By Jeremy Scahill Rebel Reports 09/16/09

Jamie Rubin, one of the leading Democratic Party hawks, was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan policy. Rubin, who served as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s top deputy in the 1990s, was a major figure in shaping and refining Clinton’s “military humanism” doctrine. He was a passionate advocate for war against Iraq, which Clinton waged militarily and economically throughout the 1990s; he was a central player in the US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and, significantly, US support for the Kosovo Liberation Army, which a senior US official, Richard Gelbard, had labeled “without any questions, a terrorist group.”

Rubin is a famed cruise-missile liberal who has seldom seen a war he didn’t like. It is no surprise that he would be hitting the cable shows to support the war in Afghanistan at a time when public opinion is increasingly against US involvement. Democratic lawmakers are finally questioning the Obama administration’s escalation there. Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence and hardly a radical anti-war voice, said Sunday: “I believe the mission should be time limited, that there should be no, ‘Well, we’ll let you know in a year and a half, depending on how we do.’ I think the Congress is entitled to know, after Iraq, exactly how long are we going to be in Afghanistan.” On Sunday, Senator Richard Durbin, one of Obama’s closest friends, said, “I think at this point sending additional troops would not be the right thing to do.” And it is not just powerful Democrats asking questions. Prominent conservative George Will recently wrote in the Washington Post that it is “time to get out of Afghanistan.” While Congress is not even considering cutting off funds (only 30 House Democrats voted against war funding last round and only Senator Russ Feingold (and independent Bernie Sanders) in the Senate, the tide is changing ever so slowly.

Rubin is predictably finding himself on the side of a band of discredited neoconservatives led by William Kristol who have launched a campaign to support the US war in Afghanistan. He is not alone among Democrats. Howard Dean recently got along swimmingly with Newt Gingrich and Chris Wallace on FOX News discussing his support for the war in Afghanistan and the Center for American Progress has issued pro-war reports and done events with neoconservatives. Rubin, who is married to CNN’s Christianne Amanpour, is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International Politics and Public Affairs. Rubin remains an informal advisor to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

On Morning Joe, Rubin laid out what can only be described as a crude plan to hypnotize Americans into believing falsehoods about the Afghan war. “We need to really really put to bed the issue that I think is behind everybody here, which is that this is another Vietnam,” Rubin said. “And I think that Vietnam is a terribly debilitating analogy for our country. Every time something is difficult, we say, “Uh, it’s Vietnam.’ Afghanistan and Vietnam have nothing to do with each other. The whole world is on our side in Afghanistan. The whole world was clearly not on our side in Vietnam. The people in Afghanistan prefer an outcome that is not the Taliban, while in Vietnam as you know, the situation was different. So, let’s take that analogy, throw it out the window, and deal with the facts on the ground.”

Perhaps Rubin may want to listen to Nir Rosen, the great war correspondent who actually knows from first-hand experience about those facts.

Among the many problems with Rubin’s statement is the glaring lie that the “whole world is on our side.” Quite the contrary. NATO countries are facing growing calls for disengagement from what is increasingly viewed as an American quagmire. Canadians are weary of their nation’s involvement. Remember what Rep. John Murtha said recently? “The Europeans aren’t doing a damn thing” to support the Afghan war. Perhaps Rubin missed this comment by Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House and a member of his own party: “I don’t think there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in Congress.”

Moreover, Rubin’s illogical connection of support for the US occupation and a rejection of the Taliban is dishonest acrobatics.

President Obama, Rubin says, “has to begin to build this case for what I would call resetting the clock. The reason why so many Americans are discouraged and feeling like additional troops are unwise is because they believe the clock started eight years ago when we first when into Afghanistan.”

Is Rubin serious? This sounds like someone trying to trick a kid into eating vegetables. His silliness then continued:

I think if the president, along with his generals, and the key diplomats like Richard Holbrooke can begin to lay the groundwork for a resetting of the clock and saying that it’s really now for the first time that we’ve devoted the diplomatic, military and political resources to focus on Afghanistan, to get the mission completed and that the clock should be reset for a realistic period of time – several years with a substantial military forces are going to be needed if we are going to accomplish this mission. And, anything short of that I think will be the kind of muddling through that we did in Afghanistan and in Iraq in the first five years and I think that’s the worst outcome.

Right, because a discredited US-backed election rife with fraud, escalating US troop deaths and a widening of Taliban control doesn’t look anything like muddling. Returning to the theme of hypnotism, Rubin said:

The fundamental question that the Congress is going to face and I think administration officials are struggling with is: Is Iraq a reasonable analogy now? Will the surge that worked in Iraq, is there an analogous situation in Afghanistan? If we have top level effort, if the president focuses on it, if we have additional surge of military forces, if we reset the objectives – because we lowered the objectives in Iraq, where we began working with Sunni warlords that previously we weren’t prepared to work with. So if we lower the objectives and increase the resources, I believe that we can achieve this mission.

In other words, do what the Bush folks did with their carnival of ever-evolving justifications for these wars. Moreover, Rubin never did mention what “mission” he believes “we can achieve.” Unless, of course, the mission is to hypnotize people into believing that Afghanistan has nothing in common with Vietnam.


See Jeremy Scahill’s book  Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army