18 dec. 2008

Rachel Maddow pushes back on George Bush' Taliban claim

For a long time, one of the ancient tropes that emanated from the White House and its defenders was that at some point in the past, the Taliban was defeated. Nothing of the sort ever happened, but that was back when our neo-con taskmasters believed that "new realities" could be created by reading their dream journals aloud, and anyway, if we hadn't managed to eliminate the Taliban... well, then, it would sure seem a little crazy to commit all of our military resources to fighting a war of choice in Iraq, wouldn't it? Someone might have to question the good sense of that, I guess!

Well, hard on the heels of his "So what?" confession that, yes, contra-all previous statements, al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq prior to the invasion, Bush is backtracking on one of the essential myths of his administration. At a press availability in Afghanistan, Bush told a reporter:
PRESIDENT BUSH: I respectfully disagree with you. The Taliban was brutalizing the people of Afghanistan. And they're not in power. And I just cited the progress that is undeniable.
Now, is there more work to be done? You bet. I never said the Taliban was eliminated, I said they were removed from power.

Oh, but no. President Bush has consistently depicted his accomplishments with regard to the Taliban as one of elimination. As early as July 4, 2002, the President was saying:
In Afghanistan we defeated the Taliban regime, but that was just the first step.

In May of 2003, Bush was braggin' with Central European foreign ministers:
In the battle of Afghanistan, nations from central and eastern Europe supplied soldiers and special forces and peacekeepers to help defeat the Taliban, to help destroy the terrorists and to bring freedom to the Afghan people.

Heck, in 2004, the elimination of the Taliban was part of the reason Bush gave George Tenet some medal or something!
Early in his tenure as DCI, George Tenet was one of the first to recognize and address the growing threat to America from radical terrorist networks. Immediately after the attacks of September the 11th, George was ready with a plan to strike back at al Qaeda and to topple the Taliban. CIA officers were on the ground in Afghanistan within days. Seasoned American intelligence officers, armed with laptop computers, Afghan clothes and a visionary plan, rode horseback with the fighters of the Northern Alliance, identified key targets for our military and helped to free a nation.

But look, maybe some of those armchair semanticists out there want to take issue with this contention, and parse the distance between "eliminate" and "defeat." That's okay. I think Sarabeth at 1115.org has the unparsable statement from Bush, circa September 2004:
[BUSH:] "And as a result of the United States military, Taliban no longer is in existence. And the people of Afghanistan are now free."
And no matter how you twist and turn the phrase, "Taliban no longer is in existence" parses out only to "Taliban was eliminated" and not "Taliban was removed from power".

So this was about how President George W. Bush had made the extraordinary utterance that he had never before said that "the Taliban was eliminated," when in fact, he had done so personally a BUNCH of times. So much so, that the notion of an eliminated Taliban was an enduring myth for the myth-besotted throughout the aughts. Well, last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow put a nice little button on this attempt at revising the historical record. "Why is that ringing the big 'YOU'RE TELLING A LIE' bell in my head?" Maddow wondered, before pulling out a pair of statements straight from Bush's mouth:
2003: "In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban."

2004: "As a result of the United States military, the Taliban is no longer in existence."
As figures in the mainstream media go, Maddow does a pretty fine job in batting back Bush's contentions. Additionally, as figures in the mainstream media go, Maddow is one of the few doing that job at all.

Source: The Huffington Post a.o.