We’re all treasonous now

WE’RE ALL TREASONOUS NOW…. Fifteen months ago, Barack Obama, addressing U.S. policy in Afghanistan, said, “We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.” A few Republicans raised a fuss, but Obama’s comments were fair and accurate, and the issue dropped.

This week, the McCain campaign is trying to manufacture a new controversy over the old flap, with Sarah Palin going so far as to insist that the remarks from 2007 are somehow anti-military. Her bogus accusations led one of her supporters today to accuse Obama of “treason.”

As it turns out, if concern for foreign civilian casualties is “dishonorable,” as a McCain campaign ad argued yesterday, then there’s a lot of dishonor to go around.

John McCain in 2000 said because of tactical decisions U.S. troops were put in the position of killing civilians in Kosovo — something awfully similar to the comments he’s now attacking Barack Obama for.

During a Republican primary debate in 2000 McCain called the Clinton strategy in Kosovo “obscene” because it forced troops into using tactics that meant civilians were going to get killed.

“In the most obscene chapter in recent American history is the conduct of the Kosovo conflict when the president of the United States refused to prepare for ground operations, refused to have air power used effectively because he wanted them flying — he had them flying at 15,000 feet where they killed innocent civilians because they were dropping bombs from such — in high altitude.”

That is almost exactly what Barack Obama said last year about U.S. troops in Afghanistan, when he said the U.S. strategy has led to air strikes rather than controlling the ground — a remark that McCain, in a new ad announced this week, calls “dishonorable.”

Those remarks sure are awfully similar. I can only assume, then, that McCain will be denouncing himself any minute now.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.