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Sunday, April 20, 2008

True statement, despite having come from Hillary: "MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan"

I know that with the degree of concentration they've maintained on their overriding goal of replacing George W. Bush, it's hard for the Hard Left, and indeed for the entire Democratic Party, to actually remember what was going on within the United States in the first few days and weeks after 9/11/01. An overwhelming majority of Americans were grimly resolved to hit back — to hit back as hard as we possibly could, meaning militarily — against al Qaeda and their cooperative hosts, the Taliban, in Afghanistan.

But the sentiment was not unanimous. Others besides Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, were eager to put the blame for 9/11 squarely on America, and still others, like Amnesty International, earnestly argued against any military response and in favor of a brisk law enforcement effort in cooperation with other governments, including the Taliban.

Now, in the 2008 election campaign, it's Hillary Clinton, of all people, who's been caught telling the truth for once — and it's a bitter truth that the Hard Left, including its hysterical Obama supporters, continues to deny. From the opening paragraphs of a Huffpo piece entitled "Clinton Slams Democratic Activists At Private Fundraiser," we read of Sen. Clinton's expression of irritation at her opposition from the Hard Left:

At a small closed-door fundraiser after Super Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton blamed what she called the "activist base" of the Democratic Party — and MoveOn.org in particular — for many of her electoral defeats, saying activists had "flooded" state caucuses and "intimidated" her supporters, according to an audio recording of the event obtained by The Huffington Post.

"Moveon.org endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] — which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said to a meeting of donors. "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with....

MoveOn.org is quoted in the same Huffpo piece as not only resolutely disputing Hillary's statement, but linking it to that great boogey-man Karl Rove:

In a statement to The Huffington Post, MoveOn's Executive Director Eli Pariser reacted strongly to Clinton's remarks: "Senator Clinton has her facts wrong again. MoveOn never opposed the war in Afghanistan, and we set the record straight years ago when Karl Rove made the same claim. Senator Clinton's attack on our members is divisive at a time when Democrats will soon need to unify to beat Senator McCain. MoveOn is 3.2 million reliable voters and volunteers who are an important part of any winning Democratic coalition in November. They deserve better than to be dismissed using Republican talking points."

And just now, as I'm working my way through today's TiVo'd talking heads shows, I heard Fox News' Chris Wallace repeat and seemingly accept this disavowal — hook, line, and sinker — as part of his interview with Clintonista Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Fox News Sunday. Perhaps afraid to offend any genuinely dangerous snakes, even Snake-Oil Chuck didn't correct Wallace and defend the accuracy of Clinton's statement.

So let me say this as precisely as I can: Eli Pariser and MoveOn.org are calculating, deliberate liars, and you have to be an utter idiot to believe their claims that he personally, or that MoveOn.org, "never opposed the war in Afghanistan."

MoveOn.org's and Pariser's disavowal has been thoroughly debunked from the right, by Byron York of the National Review:

At a time when polls showed a huge majority of Americans favoring military action against the terrorists who attacked New York and Washington, MoveOn put its energy into opposing the war in Afghanistan. Shortly after the terrorist attacks, Boyd and Blades circulated a petition that read, “Our leaders are under tremendous pressure to act in the aftermath of the terrible events of Sept. 11th. We the undersigned support justice, not escalating violence, which would only play into the terrorists’ hands.”

At the same time, an activist named Eli Pariser, recently graduated from college, circulated a petition of his own, calling on George W. Bush to use “moderation and restraint” in responding to 9/11 and “to use, wherever possible, international judicial institutions and international human rights law to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks, rather than the instruments of war, violence or destruction.” Boyd and Blades were so impressed by Pariser’s work that they hired him; he now is a top MoveOn official.

And it has been thoroughly debunked from the left, from a Peter Beinart piece in The New Republic (which used to appear here, but which, unfortunately and perhaps conveniently, they since appear to have taken offline or firewalled):

Wes Boyd and Joan Blades write that I am "simply wrong to state that MoveOn opposed the war in Afghanistan." But the petition MoveOn circulated after September 11 speaks for itself. It demands that the United States "support justice, not escalating violence," calls for "ending the cycle of violence," and says that "[i]f we retaliate by bombing Kabul and kill people oppressed by the Taliban dictatorship ... we become like the terrorists we oppose."

By any reasonable standard, that is opposition to war in Afghanistan. War, by definition, does not end "the cycle of violence." And any military action that avoided "bombing Kabul" would have left the deeply interwoven Taliban-Al Qaeda regime in power. Had the United States done as MoveOn counseled, we might have avoided killing Afghan civilians. But prolonged Taliban-Al Qaeda rule would surely have killed many more while threatening American lives as well. It is this insistence on absolute American purity, and the refusal to make real world moral tradeoffs, that produces the practical hostility to U.S. power that Arthur Schlesinger Jr. termed in The Vital Center "doughface" progressivism.

But do not believe any of them, gentle readers. Believe instead your own eyes, because through the miracle of the internet, you can still read, in its original pristine form, the online petition that MoveOn.org began running on September 25, 2001. Just click this link.

Finally, I'll reprint here what I wrote in my own blog's comments when this issue came up during MoveOn.org's sponsorship last year of their infamous "General Betray-us" advertisement:


Courtesy of the Wayback Machine — because MoveOn.org has nacht und nebeled this from their own website, of course — here's a link to the online form petition, intended to be sent to the president and Congress, as of September 25, 2001:

"Justice, not terror"

Our leaders are under tremendous pressure to act in the aftermath of the terrible events of Sept. 11th. We the undersigned support justice, not escalating violence, which would only play into the terrorists' hands:

In bringing terrorists to justice, the U.S. must commit to protecting innocent civilians everywhere and ending the cycle of violence....

To combat terrorism, we must act in accordance with a high standard that does not disregard the lives of people in other countries. If we retaliate by bombing Kabul and kill people oppressed by the Taliban dictatorship who have no part in deciding whether terrorists are harbored, we become like the terrorists we oppose. We perpetuate the cycle of retribution and recruit more terrorists by creating martyrs.

Please do everything you can to counsel patience as we search for those responsible. Please ensure that our actions reflect the sanctity of human life everywhere. Thank you.

(They continued running essentially the same thing throughout 2002 and into early 2003.)

That's not support for taking out the Taliban or al Qaeda or anyone through military force. That's not support for any kind of war, period. You can't have a war, even a war in which all reasonable care is taken to avoid collateral damage to innocents, without escalating the amount of violence. "[Searching] for those responsible" was what was being argued by those who insisted that, gee, we ought to just ask the Taliban to extradite those mean naughty al Qaeda folks.

Read the damned headline. They've carefully scrubbed the phrase "Justice, not terror" from their current website, but MoveOn.org's leaders were arguing that we Americans are the terrorists while the smoke was, quite literally, still rising from Ground Zero. Okay, fine. Free country, First Amendment, yada yada. But don't come to my blog and tell me that's not Hard Left. Just ... don't.


UPDATE (Mon Apr 21 @ 2:05pm): Gateway Pundit has a nice screenshot of MoveOn.org's online petition (of which I'm also preserving a copy, here), as captured from the Wayback Machine service. DRJ, guest-blogging at Patterico's Pontifications, was kind enough to link both this post and one by Tom Maguire at Just One Minute. Tom and his commenters quote and link additional contemporaneous evidence from 2001 as to MoveOn.org's opposition to military action in Afghanistan. This is simply not a close question; there is no possibility that Tom or I are misinterpreting or misstating MoveOn.org's previous position.

Posted by Beldar at 03:52 PM in 2008 Election, Global War on Terror, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to True statement, despite having come from Hillary: "MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan" and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) David Blue made the following comment | Apr 20, 2008 8:26:00 PM | Permalink

I remember this well, because it cost me my friends, who I had had for decades and who I expected to have for the rest of our lives: mates forever.

They went the MoveOn way (though it wasn't MoveOn in Australia, but the slogans were the same internationally), and they were marching in the anti-war rallies, and my pro-war view was not acceptable.

Since we were all networking online, American and Australians alike, I can say that at that time, with the ash of 11 September, 2001 in the air, it wasn't about national differences in America and Australia. (Indeed, the guy we were most pleased to hear from - meaning he was OK - was an Australian who'd been in New York and visited the World Trade Center, just not at the wrong time as it turned out.)

It wasn't a question of whose blood was shed: the Left was the Left, everywhere the same. It was intensely, vociferously anti-war and intolerant from very early on, and also committed to a paranoid, conspiratorial view of the American state and the American President from early on.

It is absolutely not possible to stand up for our mates or defend ourselves within limits of acceptability set by the Left. And there was never a time, from 11 September, 2001 on, when it was possible.

(2) David Blue made the following comment | Apr 20, 2008 9:20:25 PM | Permalink

What is this lie about, that the same people who at the time were quoting Chomsky on the American plan for genocide in Afghanistan now say they were no board until Iraq?

It seemed to me then, and it still does, that this lie was a way to increase the pain of present rejection by taking away past friendship.

Children use this tactic, like this: "Now that you did X, I hate you ... and I used to really really like you, and I was your best friend." (Even if rewinding the tape would show no outward evidence of the alleged lost friendship.)

Adults use variations on it too, and in the long, slow run-up to the invasion of Iraq, there was ample time for the Left to massage its stories to put as much emotional pressure as possible on supporters of the war.

Later the new story stuck, but for different reasons. As the Left explained it, the idiot Bush neglected to capture Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan by "outsourcing" the war, or else the evil Neocons let Osama Bin Laden escape from Afghanistan to serve as a boogy-man and an excuse for further bloody imperialism. In telling these tales of the evil, greed and stupidity of the Americans (or their President, or the Neocon "you know who" cabal with the White House in its thrall) it was inconvenient to recall that many of the same Lefties telling these tales would not have allowed an invasion of Afghanistan in the first place, if it had been up to them. So that part of the story fell down the memory hole.

Since the convenient lie of the Left being in solid support of the invasion of Afghanistan has been repeated a lot, directly or by implication, without being challenghed much, it's now almost officially true - and it can be and is used to validate the patriotim and sober judgment of people who are busily engaged in countering American military involvement elsewhere.

(3) Phil made the following comment | Apr 21, 2008 11:58:37 AM | Permalink

My kudos and respect to those who, unlike MoveOn, have consistently refused to "commit to protecting innocent civilians everywhere and ending the cycle of violence."

Bravo! Thanks to you, civilians everywhere can rest (or rather, not rest) assured that the cycle of violence will continue to threaten them all.

(4) John H. Costello made the following comment | Apr 21, 2008 12:49:23 PM | Permalink

The way to end a cycle of violence is to kill the other people. That was how the cycle of violence in Europe came to an end in the 40s -- we killed Germans until the ones who were opposing us were either dead or in POW camps.This also brought the cycle of violence between the Germans and Jews to an end -- no more Warsaw Ghetto uprisings or Sobibor breakouts to cause the Germans to kill more Jews...

I think the whole 'cycle of violence' thingy is way overblown.

(5) kenB made the following comment | Apr 21, 2008 6:42:01 PM | Permalink

FWIW, while that petition certainly shows that MoveOn was against a *rush to war*, I don't think it's hard evidence that the organization was against the Afghanistan war in general.

As far as the info at JOM, I may have missed something in my scanning, but I didn't see any further evidence about MoveOn's official opinion, just some guilt-by-association.

Mind you, I don't doubt that many in the organization were in fact against the war, but the present question is about the organization's official stance.

(6) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 21, 2008 6:56:56 PM | Permalink

kenB: Check my comment on Patterico's site for more quotes and links, which make absolutely clear that Eli Pariser, at a minimum, was against "war" and in favor, instead, of a "non-military response." Then come back here and explain how MoveOn — regardless of its new Executive Director's personal position, which got him hired, and which the organization apparently reimbursed him for having expressed — could logically support the Afghanistan War, and yet oppose violence. Then tell us why, if MoveOn.org supported violence against only terrorists (but not against civilians, even if that could not be prevented by reasonable means while pursuing the terrorists), it didn't say that.

Then point out any public statement anywhere from MoveOn.org in September or October of 2001 in which it explicitly supported the war. Or even that portion of the war that involved no risk of collateral damage and injury to innocent civilians. Find me so much as one sentence from them, published anywhere during that period, that expresses MoveOn.org's approval of the possible killing even of only Osama bin Laden through a surgical military strike (rather than his arrest and extradition).

We're waiting. Go ahead.

You're mincing words, like a defense lawyer trying desperately to raise a reasonable doubt. But there isn't one: They're lying.

(7) kenB made the following comment | Apr 21, 2008 7:44:32 PM | Permalink

You're mincing words, like a defense lawyer trying desperately to raise a reasonable doubt.

Sorry, I thought you might be interested in a discussion rather than an argument. My mistake. Bye.

(8) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 21, 2008 8:47:11 PM | Permalink

kenB: Opposing views, civilly expressed, are indeed welcome here. I reserve the right to point out when I think they're wrong, though, and my readers are always free to draw their own conclusions.

I commend you for conceding that Pariser, for example, in his personal capacity, was unequivocal and specific in his express opposition to military action. It's theoretically conceivable, I'll admit, that an organization's official position might be different from its leaders' personal views. But I think the evidence here (specifically, the words of the online petition) tends to show — in a powerful fashion — that the organization's official position was, predictably, exactly the same as its leaders' personal positions.

If you want to make a point, either produce evidence or discuss the evidence already on the table. In your first comment, you tried to do the second, by ignoring parts of what was already on the table. I pointed out what you were ignoring. You're asking us to draw an inference which is contrary to logic — at least as I understand the meaning of words like "war" and "violence." If you understand those words differently, or have a logical explanation I've missed, fire away.

The ball's in your court, if you want to "discuss" this further, sir. But don't claim that I've refused to listen, or denied you a forum here for civil discussion on the topic.

(9) DRJ made the following comment | Apr 21, 2008 10:07:49 PM | Permalink

Well done. You're an excellent blogger and moderator, and one of the best stops on the internet.

(10) seePea made the following comment | Apr 22, 2008 1:54:33 AM | Permalink

I highly doubt kenB had any interest in anything except baiting. A corollary to Godwin's Law is that using the line "i wanted to discuss not argue" means one does not the ammo to further one's point but just posted in order to get a desired response of "belligerence"

(11) hunter made the following comment | Apr 22, 2008 11:00:59 AM | Permalink

Excelelnt post. And thank you for taking on the parsing that would have Moveon.org pretending to be both for and against the war.
And we should never forget: It was not just moveon.org that wought to undermine the war from the very beginning. By early winter of 2001, there were Congressional dhimocrats working against the war.
The other trick we should avoid is the one Obama and his moveon.org masters use: To pretend there are two wars, instead of one war with multiple fronts.

(12) George made the following comment | Apr 23, 2008 11:51:29 PM | Permalink

Do they not tell people about Lexis/Nexis these days?

From The Hotline, September 21, 2001
Knight Ridder's Pugh writes that "small numbers of college
students, liberal groups and religious leaders are bucking
public sentiment and urging the United States not to retaliate."
Joan Blades, co-founder of Moveon.org, an "online network of
liberal-leaning activists," said her group has collected more
than 30K signatures on a statement calling for "justice, not
escalating violence that would only play into the terrorists'
hands." At Georgetown, "blindfolded students lay on their backs
on the rain-soaked ground Thursday to simulate the casualties of
terrorist attacks in Ireland, New York and the Middle East"
(Charlotte Observer, 9/21). At the Univ. of MI, about 200
protests criticized the planned response, but "they were nearly
upstaged by about 30 vocal students who showed up to express
views supporting military action." More than 100 schools staged
peace rallies 9/20 (Lords/Low, Detroit Free-Press, 9/21). An
"emerging anti-war movement" in L.A. drew 300 to 400 people.
"Men in Aztec dress pounded on drums and women in colorful
headdresses danced as protesters held up signs to passing
motorists, many of whom honked apparently in support and some
yelled indecipherable jeers." The rally was the work of the
newly-formed Coalition for World Peace (Anderson, Los Angeles
Daily News, 9/21).

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