On Monday, Ted Koppel offered a report / commentary on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" which can be found online with this headline: "A Duty to Mislead: Politics and the Iraq War," and this introductory text:
"Democrats are telling voters that if they are elected, all U.S. troops will be pulled out of Iraq. But as Sen. Hillary Clinton privately told a senor military adviser, she knows there will be some troops there for decades. It's an example of how in some cases, politics can force dishonesty."
Well, someone is trying to force dishonesty. I'm not sure it's politics.
In the audio report, Koppel points out that in a recent debate Senator Hillary Clinton said that her first priority if elected would be to "bring our troops home." She did not say ALL our troops, Koppel points out, and she does not mean ALL our troops. She told the New York Times three months ago that some forces would have to remain. And Koppel adds that he spoke with someone from the Pentagon who briefs Clinton, and that she had told this person that if she is elected and reelected, she expects to have troops in Iraq at the end of her second term. Koppel notes that that's 10 years away. He adds that he thinks she's "right" and that the other Democratic candidates agree with her. When, oh when, he laments, will we get the truth instead of applause lines.
But let's back up a minute here. The question of how long U.S. troops remain in Iraq is not an immutable fact for Clinton and Koppel to get right, as scientists observing the natural world. It's a question to be determined by either the U.S. Congress or the U.S. President or both. Koppel, in fact, has no say in the matter, and I for one am profoundly uninterested in his opinion. Clinton's opinion, on the other hand, is of the highest importance. Koppel is to be applauded for exposing it to the light of day.
Koppel, it appears, however, did not learn his lesson in 2003 at that New Hampshire debate where Congressman Dennis Kucinich received such thunderous applause for taking Koppel to task. Koppel does not have the right to determine which candidates are "real" candidates or to put words in their mouths. Neither Kucinich nor former Senator Mike Gravel intends, if elected, to keep troops in Iraq for a year, much less a decade. In fact, these candidates are trying their hardest to fully end the occupation of Iraq prior to 2008. My distinct impression is that Republican candidate Ron Paul shares this position.
Some of the other Democratic candidates, as well, may not share the Clinton-Koppel position in favor of a decade or more of occupation. In fact, that may be exactly why Koppel has exposed Clinton's position and described it not as a position at all, but as an observation of facts that any serious candidate would recognize. Koppel may be concerned that some of the other Democrats whom Disney (ABC) considers viable do not share Clinton's position. He is instructing them on what position to take if they want to be in the center of the stage and treated respectfully by the media.
Something is, indeed, trying to force dishonesty.
Each candidate needs to be asked, and the answer reported: Will they work now for the complete withdrawal of all troops, mercenaries, and contractors?
In fact, there are a lot of questions they should be asked.
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