Deceptive progressives call for support of Obama’s war by Bruce Gagnon

End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars!

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Organizing Notes
December 2, 2009

This morning I got an email from a friend who tipped me off to a conference call for “progressives” to discuss Obama’s Afghanistan speech last night.

The call announcement included this: “The narrative so far is that the left is against sending more troops and the right is for it,” said Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project at the Progressive Policy Institute. “But that’s not the reality of the situation. There are reasons for progressives to take heart from much of the President’s new strategy, as well as reasons to tread carefully. We want to make sure all those voices are heard.”

This made me quite interested so I dialed in. The call began with everyone in the audience on mute as the following people made opening statements.

* Rachel Kleinfeld, CEO, Truman National Security Project
* Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project, Progressive Policy
* Gen. Paul Eaton (Ret.), Senior Adviser, National Security Network
* Andy Johnson, Director, Third Way National Security Program
* Lorelei Kelly, Director, New Strategic Security Initiative
* Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress
* Frankie Sturm, Communications Director, Truman National Security Project (Moderator)

Frankly I had never heard of any of these people before and I’ve been working in the “progressive movement” for the past 30 years. A couple of the organizations they work for I had heard a bit about – they are DC-based “think tanks” that usually are heavily funded by corporations to project their message.

Here is a bit of what some of them said in the opening:

Rachel Kleinfeld: “Thrilled by last night’s speech….it’s a realistic goal we have been given…dismayed that progressives don’t see that this will reduce the violence of this war.”

Jim Arkedis: Described himself as a former counter-terrorism analyst at the Pentagon…..”Think of the US like an NFL defense….by adopting this counter-insurgency strategy it essentially takes the other sides offense off the field…..this is about peace and stability.” He slammed Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who was on the news this morning criticizing the plan as being from the “far left.”

Lorelei Kelly: “Progressives need to abandon the old talking points from Iraq and Vietnam….progressives need to get inside this debate, President Obama is trying to create a new way….these policies need support….The American military is probably the most progressive agency we have today.”

One of them brought up CodePink’s recent visit to Afghanistan and subsequent statements made by Media Benjamin to say that some peace groups understand that we need to stay there and stabilize the country. Another called Obama’s plan the “full spectrum approach” that progressives must support – we “need the military” to get to a positive conclusion.

Finally they unmuted the listeners and then opened it up for “questions”. I didn’t ask a question but instead read a quote from the Robert Scheer article (just below this post) which came from former Marine captain Matthew Hoh where he said, “In the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan … I have lost understanding and confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan. … I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.”

A woman listener from West Virginia (CodePink) said she had family killed in these wars and they need to stop. A woman from Georgia said we need to end the wars. A man from upstate New York said they were organizing protests and that Obama had betrayed us.

Next they put us on mute again and told us that we could only ask questions and that we’d better be good. When they unmuted I accused them of trying to silence the voices of the people as it was clear that they only wanted us on the call to listen to the talking points put out by the White House.

I know this is true because last spring I did a couple blogs about the Obama administration daily sending out talking points to groups like these that today hosted this “conference call”. You can see one such story about this by Jermey Scahill here.

One of the groups mentioned by Scahill in his article is the Center for American Progress which was represented on the call today as one of the “expert” speakers.

While on the call I quickly did an Internet search on the Truman National Security Project just to see what I could learn about them. Their advisory board stands out like a sore thumb:

Advisory Board
Madeleine K. Albright
Principal, The Albright Group LLC

Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

William Marshall
President, Progressive Policy Institute

William J. Perry (former Clinton Secretary of Defense)
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institute

John D. Podesta (former Clinton operative)
President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Wendy R. Sherman
Principal, The Albright Group LLC

First chance I got I read the list off and commented that it was now abundantly clear to me that this call was intended to deliver Obama team talking points to us and that they were not in the least interested in what we had to say…..these folks organizing this call came from the right-wing of the Democratic Party I said…… earlier I had strongly challenged one of them who stated that the peace movement should stop protesting and support Obama’s plan!

They couldn’t wait to finish the call and I am happy to say that it did not go as well as they had hoped. I thank Mark Roman for tipping me off and I want to warn everyone to be on the lookout for these “pseudo progressives” who will now be coming out of the woodwork to tell the public and the media that only the far-left is against Obama’s war in Afghanistan. Good “progressives” they will say are going to support Obama’s war surge.

In the old days they used to call these folks “Scoop Jackson Democrats” after the senator from Washington state who was a pro-war leader. They have wised up and now call themselves progressives and will steal the rug out from under our feet if we are not watching closely.


Crunch time for peace movement by Bruce Gagnon + Chicago Afghan Wedding Party Protest

Dennis Kucinich: We’re Acting Like a Latter Day Version of the Roman Empire

Nir Rosen: We Managed to Make the Taliban Look Good

Andrew Bacevich: The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War

30,000 Wrongs Won’t Make it Right by Cindy Sheehan

The World’s Least Powerful Man – The Obama Puppet By Paul Craig Roberts

Rep. Kucinich: Congress has responsibility, too + Rep. Maxine Waters + Kucinich vs O’Reilly

5 thoughts on “Deceptive progressives call for support of Obama’s war by Bruce Gagnon

  1. Thanks, mm, and Annie. Good points.

    Not all states have voters declare a party when registering to vote, but great idea to register as I in those states that you must declare. It gets a bit tricky during state primary elections, though. Not sure if Independents can take a Democratic Party ballot for local and state primary elections. You may want to look into that.

    In my state we don’t have to declare a party when we register and can choose whichever party ballot during the statewide primary elections.

    More on the organizations that held this conference call at this post:

  2. Pingback: Cindy Sheehan’s Peace Of The Action « Dandelion Salad

  3. Thanks to Dandelion for the reporting …

    This line of propaganda s surfacing everywhere … we are against the war and Obama has given us a way out – in 18 months! Bull Shit!

    Some are even calling the 2011 time line a great victory for the left … !

    Even those coming out against the escalation say it is not Obama’s fault, he is roped in, had no choice …

    I’ve never seen so much parsing of what are the real reasons behind escalating the injury, death and destruction that is war by supposedly intelligent people. It makes me sick …

    • I have to respond to you…once again, you “nail it” for what it is!

      My own thoughts this morning, having read several articles (on Dandelion Salad and others) lead me out of marshmallow land into a call for individuality. I’m sick of what I’ll call “affiliate mentality”–the neurosis that leads individuals to think they have to identify others or themselves by political party, by gender, by money, by affiliation with/identity as celebrity, or some other marker.

      I guess I understand why one has to register to vote, so my alternative recommendation is that all of us register as Independents.

      Dis-empower the political machine!


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