UPDATE: Shields contacted ThinkProgress and kindly informed us that his comments below were intended to be sarcastic. We regret our error in misinterpreting his comments and for questioning his motives. Shields told us that his comments were meant to disparage those who consistently argue that more war will solve America’s problems and that his statement was directed at co-panelist and right-wing neoconservative Charles Krauthammer, who, according to Shields, was displeased with the remark. With a deeper appreciation for his wit, we extend our sincere apologies to Mr. Shields.
Since reports emerged last month that top commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal asked President Obama for upwards of 40,000 additional troops to continue the war there, the right wing has been attacking the President for taking time to make a decision on his new strategy. “It is absolutely unconscionable,” Liz Cheney said yesterday on Fox News, that Obama “is denying our troops on the ground in Afghanistan the resources that they need to prevail to win that war.”
Also during that time, Obama has made reflective gestures to those who have fallen in the wars he is now running, paying tribute to returning war dead at Dover Air Force Base and making an impromptu visit to Section 60 at Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day to commemorate Iraq and Afghanistan war casualties. Yesterday on Inside Washington, during a discussion of Obama’s upcoming decision on Afghanistan, syndicated columnist Mark Shields scoffed at Obama’s demeanor, wishing instead for a “manly man” in the White House:
SHIELDS: We have a president of real intellectual horse power who is cool, detached and analytical and if anything you can watch the emotional side of him emerge in this whole process. … There’s an emotional aspect, the comforter in chief as well as the commander in chief. Both roles. And I think it makes me nostalgic for those days when we had a manly man in the White House who could say, “Let’s kick some tail and ask questions afterwards” you know? That’s what we really need instead of any reflection.
Shields’ rhetoric is eerily reminiscent of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s justification for the war in Iraq, who in May 2003 argued that after 9/11, the U.S. had to invade in order to “burst” the terrorism bubble:
FRIEDMAN: And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand? You don’t think, you know we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck on this, okay?” That Charlie is what this war [in Iraq] is about. We could of hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. Could of hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
Of course Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and after nearly 4,400 U.S soldiers dead, 32,000 wounded and nearly $1 trillion spent, the U.S. still has well over 100,000 troops stationed in Iraq.