UN Amb. Rice Pointedly Reminds Rachel Maddow That Threat From al Qaeda Not 'Hypothetical'

How does earnest MSNBC polemicist Rachel Maddow expect anyone to take her seriously when she doubts al Qaeda still threatens American lives?

It took Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations for the most leftward presidency since LBJ, to remind Maddow that al Qaeda's deadly intent is not "hypothetical."

Preceding Rice's appearance on Maddow's show Dec. 2 was this observation from Maddow about the Bush Doctrine, as enunciated by Bush at West Point in June 2002 (first of three segments of embedded video) --

MADDOW:  The Bush Doctrine was probably the single most radical thing about the Bush presidency because it dropped the requirement that the United States actually be threatened before we'd start a war with someone, instead saying that if we just thought we might be threatened some time in the future, that would be justification enough for us now to start a war. It is a really radical concept if you think about it, not only about war, but about us, about America. And it may have survived the Bush presidency.

In Maddow's revisionism, the Bush Doctrine "dropped the requirement that the United States actually be threatened before we'd start a war with someone." That's one way of looking at it. A more accurate recollection would be to point out the Bush Doctrine was preceded by an enemy doing far more than "threatening" the United States, instead actually carrying out an onslaught that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11 (and most of the victims dying within view of where Maddow broadcasts from Rockefeller Center).

Maddow continued along the same lines the following night with Rice as her first guest (second and third parts of embedded video) --

MADDOW: In terms of Afghanistan specifically, if there are only very limited elements of al Qaeda there, if it is to prevent future safe havens for the Taliban and thereby eventually for al Qaeda in Afghanistan, is this a Bush Doctrine war? Is this a preventive war to stop a threat that doesn't exist today and one from emerging in the future?

RICE: No, absolutely not, because the threat exists. It has manifested itself in the killing of 3,000 people here on 9/11. It's manifesting itself repeatedly in the plots, in plots that we've recently just disrupted here in the United States that were hatched in this border area. To again ...

MADDOW: Border area of Afghanistan?

RICE: Of Afghanistan and Pakistan, along that border. Well, it is a porous border as you well know having looked at this. Yes, they're different countries. Yes, we have very different approaches and strategies to them, but there is nothing different about that area. It is completely porous and people and fighters can and do move freely across that border.  

Later in the same segment, Rice demolished Maddow's delusion about al Qaeda along with Maddow's contention that "preventive war" is an inherently bad thing (unlike, for example, "preventive medicine") --

MADDOW: What I'm concerned about is that the war against al Qaeda is a war in Pakistan, the war in Afghanistan is preventive about in the sense that it is trying to block these future ...

RICE (interrupting): You talk about it as if it's a hypothetical. The big difference is, and I know you're making the analogy to Iraq and preventive war, there was not in Iraq a proximate threat to the United States when we made the decision to go to war there in 2003. There is and remains a proximate threat to our national security that emanates both from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now, the extremists are, have been displaced largely, not entirely, into Pakistan but the Taliban which supports and nurtures them is gaining strength in Afghanistan. And if they are not restrained and their capacity diminished, the extremist al Qaeda that have moved to Pakistan because Afghanistan had become less hospitable will easily flood back across the border and there in Afghanistan with a Taliban authority that actively nurtures and supports them, will be even more potent than they are in Pakistan where you actually have a government that doesn't want them to succeed. So this is not a hypothetical, this is very real, very proximate, and it's not about prevention at this stage. It is about actively countering a clear and present danger.
The idiocy of her views on al Qaeda having been exposed by a presumptive ally, Maddow leveled a cheap shot at Rice the next night while disingenuously claiming to "very much enjoy" their "robust discussion." On the contrary, as anyone familiar with Maddow's slippery modus operandi could tell --
MADDOW: Last night I had a rather robust discussion about the military escalation in Afghanistan with Susan Rice, our US ambassador to the United Nations, with whom it turns out I very much enjoy civil disagreement. But there was one point made by Ambassador Rice that the news gods insist we follow up on today --

RICE: In Pakistan, where we also are working to reduce and eliminate the safe haven, you have now a government that is actively going after the extremists and actively trying to counter them.

MADDOW (repeating Rice's words while reading from notes, to convey alleged relevancy of point to be made): A government that is actively going after the extremists and trying to counter them -- the crucial point (raising finger for emphasis) about why it supposedly makes sense to escalate now. Whoops! (accidentally drops pen) I didn't need that anyway. Why year nine's escalation will be effective even if year eight's escalation really wasn't. Well, now in year nine, the administration argues Pakistan is fighting extremists, right? Right? So it makes all the difference, this is why it's going to work this time, right? Pakistani prime minister Yousef Raza Gilani, right? --

GILANI (appearing to speak at press conference): I doubt the information which you are giving is correct because I don't think that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan.

MADDOW (parroting Gilani): I don't think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan. Osama bin who?! Where, here?! If one of the arguments for sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan is that Pakistan is supposedly fired up on all cylinders about fighting terrorists, someone should maybe check with them to see if Pakistan even actually recognizes that Osama freakin' bin Laden exists in their country.

Someone like that freakin' UN ambassador with whom Maddow so enjoys a verbal tussle.

Within days of Rice's appearance on the Maddow show, this was the news out of Pakistan --

ISLAMABAD (CNN) -- A blast hit near a building housing Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, in the eastern city of Multan on Tuesday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 20 others, police said.

The explosion took place at a security checkpoint, said Jamshed Akram of the city police.

Four soldiers and four children were among the dead, said Dr. Kaleem Ullah of Multan's emergency services.

Pakistan has blamed the violence on Islamic militants who have vowed to avenge (an) intense military offensive to rout them from their haven along the country's border with Afghanistan.

The nation has come under increasingly frequent attacks. On Monday, a blast at a crowded market in Lahore killed 54 and wounded more than 150 people.

The same day two other bombing attacks -- in Peshawar and Quetta -- killed at least 11 and wounded at least 41.

The attacks came three days after militants armed with guns and grenades stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi frequented by military personnel. At least 36 were killed and 75 wounded.

Not that there is much conflict between Islamic militants and the Pakistani government, as Rachel Maddow will attest. Any more than the misunderstood jihadists in al Qaeda pose a threat to Americans.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts