On This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, December 13, during the show’s Roundtable segment, liberal blogger Arianna Huffington argued that the war in Afghanistan is "the gold standard of a dumb war, immoral and unnecessary," during a discussion of President Obama’s recent speech at West Point announcing that he would send more troops to Afghanistan, and his speech in Oslo accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Huffington also criticized fellow liberal panel member John Podesta -- a former Clinton administration member who is now president of the Center for American Progress -- charging that, "You now sound like George Bush," after Podesta explained President Obama’s rationale for sending more troops into Afghanistan.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the December 13 This Week on ABC:
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I don’t think there are many people who would argue that there are no reasons for war. I mean, after all, this is the peace prize, it’s not the pacifist prize. So I didn’t quite understand all that big defense of the necessary wars. For me, the main problem is the same problem I had with his West Point speech, which is when he said that my job is to protect the American people from threats. Of course, everybody would agree with that. But he has not defined what the threats coming from Afghanistan are. And he did not define those threats in the West Point speech, he did not define them at any point. And that’s really, at the moment, the main problem with his credibility because: Where are the threats coming from? The Taliban? The 100 al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan?
And remember, in 2002 he gave this defining speech – that in many ways is responsible for his being President – which was against the war in Iraq when said I’m not against all wars, I’m against a dumb war. And right now, Afghanistan is the gold standard of a dumb war, immoral and unnecessary.
JOHN PODESTA: Well, you know, I think that, I find it ironic that the conservatives all embrace this speech. It seemed to me a repudiation of conservatism. They made the argument that because America was exceptional the rules didn’t apply to us. This was really rooted, I think, in post-World War II. This sounded like FDR, really, that he said he was that constraining that our following the rules of the road, not torturing people, applying the Geneva conventions, was the source of American exceptionalism that we led the world place at. With respect to Arianna’s point about what the threat is, I think he was fairly clear that in the context of both speeches that he gave, that we have to go after the people that attacked us. And I think that they’ve done that, they’ve done that. You could argue about whether this is the right strategy to do that. The fact that they’re using predators in Pakistan, they’re doing more in Pakistan over the last 10 months.
HUFFINGTON: You now sound like George Bush. You know the people who attacked us, the people who attacked us are not in Afghanistan.
PODESTA: That’s the first time I’ve ever been accused of that.
HUFFINGTON: But you know the idea that the people who attacked us are in Afghanistan-
PODESTA: Are in Pakistan.
HUFFINGTON: But they’re not going to Pakistan.
PODESTA: Well, I would beg to differ.
HUFFINGTON: They’re not sending 30,000 more troops to Pakistan.
PODESTA: I said you could argue about the tactics, but I would beg to differ that we’re not going to Pakistan. I mean we’re-
HUFFINGTON: The announcement he made was about 30,000 troops.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And there was a drone strike just this week that took out the number four or five member of al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
HUFFINGTON: That’s right, but that’s not what he announced. The escalation was in Afghanistan.