Olbermann to Obama on Afghanistan, Libya: ‘Don’t press your luck, Mr. President’

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Oh Keith, it has been too long.

When Keith Olbermann left MSNBC and ended his “Countdown” show earlier this year, his “Special Comment” segments naturally left with him. But now that he’s been reincarnated on former Vice President Al Gore’s fledgling network Current TV, those bombastic “Special Comment” segments are back.

On his Tuesday night show, Olbermann gave viewers a dose of that commentary, but instead of his usual tirades aimed at conservatives, the Current TV host went after President Barack Obama on the eve of a speech he will give on his Afghanistan policy.

“[T]he analogy was apt in 2009 and I think it’s apt tonight,” Olbermann said. “Mr. President you must take the advice Sen. [George] Aiken, Republican, gave to President Lyndon Johnson about Vietnam: You must declare victory and get out. As of the escalation more than a year and a half, our men and women there were at risk from the Taliban, from the brigands that constituted the Afghan government, from the election-fixer Karzai and from what the national security adviser estimated was eight dozen members of al-Qaeda.”

Olbermann explained the U.S. military’s perception problem with its presence in Afghanistan.

“The only ones we were not fighting were the citizens of Afghanistan, yet all the polling done there indicated the only people the citizens thought we were fighting were them,” he said. ”We were in their eyes an occupying force. That thee whole thing has not blown up in our face because of that is both providential and testimonial to bravery and moreover the common sense of our troops and leaders on the ground.”

Olbermann suggested that Obama not set an exit date in the future, but one that would involve exiting as soon as possible. (Politico’s Vogel strikes again — takes talk radio fight to Olbermann’s Current TV debut)

“Mr. President, don’t press your luck,” Olbermann said. “Do not take the proposal that lets you set the ultimate end date, but lets the Pentagon control the echelons of drawing down. Select the door with the easiest access that allows the most Americans come home the fastest. Anything less will still be that Joseph Heller ‘Catch-22’ or the M.C. Escher version of an exit strategy – one that began with entering further and then becomes staying longer.”

And the consequences of not following that advice Olbermann said was the chance Obama could become part of the military-industrial complex.

“As I said in 2009, lose to win, sink to swim, escalate to disengage because there is still, sir what President Eisenhower so insightfully called our military-industrial complex,” Olbermann said. “The Pentagon and the ex-Pentagoners and with them the defense contracts – for them, war is a business. And like all businessmen, they will do whatever is necessary to make a profit. No one here Mr. President is accusing you of participating this but every day we are still in Afghanistan and Iraq and now Libya, another piece of the certainty that you would never participate in it gets a little rusty. Get the troops out, sir. To Sen. Aiken’s famous advice, you can in a very real way answer, ‘We can declare victory. We got through a rainstorm without an umbrella and without getting wet.’ Don’t press your luck, Mr. President. Don’t press ours.”