Time's Klein attacked "ill-informed dilettante[ ]"war opponents by citing war supporter who contradicted himself on troop increase

Time's Klein attacked "ill-informed dilettante[ ]"war opponents by citing war supporter who contradicted himself on troop increase

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

To support his assertion that Democrats who oppose President Bush's possible plan to increase U.S. forces in Iraq risk "sound[ing] like ill-informed dilettantes," Joe Klein attacked The New York Times' Paul Krugman for not mentioning, in a recent column, that retired Gen. Jack Keane, among others, supports a troop increase. However, Keane recently appeared to support plans to send "[a]n additional 20,000 troops" to Iraq, despite having asserted, less than two weeks earlier, that adding "at least 30,000 combat troops" was the "only" option to "[b]ring security to Baghdad."

In his second January 8 post to the Time.com political weblog Swampland, Joe Klein -- the magazine's "most liberal columnist" -- attacked "illiberal leftists and reactionary progressives" who took issue with his first post, in which he asserted that Democrats who oppose President Bush's possible plan to increase the level of U.S. troops in Iraq run the risk of "sound[ing] like ill-informed dilettantes." To support this assertion, Klein attacked New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for not mentioning, in a recent column (subscription required), that retired Gen. Jack Keane, among others, supports a troop increase. But, as Media Matters for America documented, in an appearance on the January 8 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, Keane, former Army vice chief of staff and an ABC News contributor, appeared to support plans to send "[a]n additional 20,000 troops" to Iraq, despite having asserted, less than two weeks earlier, that adding "at least 30,000 combat troops lasting 18 months or so" was the "only" option to "[b]ring security to Baghdad." Keane did not explain the apparent discrepancy. In addition, according to the January 8 edition of Newsweek, an unnamed "former senior Army official" alleged that Keane has been advised by the Army's vice chief of staff that "the actual figures on readiness" show that Keane's plan to increase troops for the length of time needed to secure Iraq was "not doable."

Media Matters has noted Klein's pattern of attacking Democrats, especially on national security issues, such as his claim in his column for the June 26, 2006, edition of Time that the party is "not known for its warrior ethic." In his first Swampland post, Klein warned that Democrats "have to be careful not to sound like ill-informed dilettantes" when talking about and opposing Bush's possible plan to send additional U.S. forces to Iraq, while acknowledging that Democrats were nevertheless "right" in opposing the plan. Even so, Klein concluded that "[l]iberals won't ever be trusted on national security until they start doing their homework" and suggested that supporters of a troop increase such as Keane had done the required homework.

After several Swampland readers took issue with Klein's first post, he published a follow-up:

I love it! First day of Swampitude and the left-wing blogosphere -- which is overpopulated by illiberal leftists and reactionary progressives -- is already attacking me: 24 mostly mingy comments about my Left Behind post, many of which seem to be steaming off a post by Greg Sargent, who writes a blog called The Horse's...Mouth. The illiberal left just hates it when I point out that the Democratic Party's naivete on national security -- and the left wing tendency to assume every U.S. military action abroad is criminal -- just aren't very helpful electorally. The fact that I've been opposed to the Iraq war ever since this 2002 article in Slate just makes it all the more aggravating. But it's possible to have been against the war and to hope for the best in Iraq. I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of Americans who now oppose the war are praying for a turn for the better in Iraq. Listening to the leftists, though, it's easy to assume that they are rooting for an American failure.

And so a challenge to those who slagged me in their comments. Can you honestly say the following:

Even though I disagree with this escalation, I am hoping that General [David] Petraeus succeeds in calming down Baghdad.

Does the thought even cross your mind? As for me, it's easy -- I've been rooting for U.S. success ever since the invasion because, after the overpowering arrogance and stupidity that led to this disaster, we owe some peace and stability to the Iraqis and the region. For the record, I'm outraged Bush is ignoring the election results and the reality on the ground in Iraq. I think he is sending more young American lives into an impossible situation. I am fairly certain that Bush will wallow amongst our worst presidents for getting us into this mess. But I hope events prove me wrong. I don't even care if Bush gets credit for the "victory" and smirks all the way back to Texas. -- joe klein

As noted on the weblog Eschaton (written by Atrios, Media Matters senior fellow Duncan Black), discussing the Iraq war on the February 22, 2003, edition of CNBC's Tim Russert show, Klein said about the decision to go to war in Iraq: "This is a really tough decision. War may well be the right decision at this point. In fact, I think ... it probably is."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Time Magazine
Person
Joe Klein
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