MSNBC's Ratigan Rants: Military 'Dropping Predator Bombs On Civilians Willy-Nilly'

On Wednesday's Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan didn't see any point to continuing the war in Afghanistan and slammed military air strikes against terrorist targets as: "kids with joysticks in New Jersey and Las Vegas dropping predator bombs on civilians willy-nilly." [Audio available here]        

Ratigan began a panel discussion on Afghanistan with Democratic strategist David Goodfriend and Republican strategist Brent Littlefield by wondering: "Is there anybody in this administration on either side that can actually justify the American presence in Afghanistan at this point?" Littlefield attempted to explain: "we had the previous president, took the country in there because of the attacks on 9/11." Ratigan was dismissive: "That was almost ten years ago, right? I mean that was a long time ago."

Ratigan moved on to Goodfriend and referenced NBC correspondent Richard Engel's appearance on the show on Tuesday: "He is making the point that the Bush doctrine of fight them there and they won't get us here appears to be continuing to break down as we now default to just predator drone-them-to-death wherever they may be on remote control and an apparent, sort of, nonevent in Afghanistan. It's like a charade." Of course the reliance on predator drone attacks was significantly increased under the Obama administration.

Again, Ratigan saw no reason for the war and actually blamed it for creating terrorism: "I don't understand how this war in Afghanistan is protecting me from a car bomber in midtown. In fact, I'm concerned that the war in Afghanistan is creating more car bombers in Pakistan that want to come to midtown." He then asked Goodfriend: "Is there a rational defense that you have heard for America being in Afghanistan a decade after we went in to degrade the Taliban?" As Goodfriend began to answer, Ratigan interrupted and proclaimed: "And every soldier, every journalist, every person you talk to says, 'I don't know why we're in Afghanistan.'"

Goodfriend largely agreed with Ratigan's assessment and noted: "we actually supported the Taliban when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan." Ratigan interjected: "Of course, we armed them." Goodfriend added: "it's yet another example of you know, unfortunately, the United States feeling that we can sort of change the course of history in this part of the world that even Alexander the Great failed to change."

An exasperated Ratigan then whined: "why is anybody in this country safer because we're spending a lot of money and spending a bunch our soldiers and weapons to a land-locked mountainous nation in the Middle East for the past ten years, and appear to be doing – staying there for God knows how much longer?" Again, Goodfriend agreed: "I happen to believe that we spend too much money on the military as it is. $700 Billion a year is too much....I think this nation of ours would do better with half, 50%, the military budget we have today."

In concluding the segment, Ratigan again cited Engel's criticism of the war and ranted: "America's knickers are into a bunch to the point it's ready to throw everybody out because we're taking people to the Caribbean without giving them proper rights and putting them in prison but having kids with joysticks in New Jersey and Las Vegas dropping predator bombs on civilians willy-nilly is a valid foreign policy, strikes me as if I've gone crazy....nobody's going to defend it, it's crazy."

Here is a full transcript of the segment:
4:13PM

DYLAN RATIGAN: We begin, though, with the Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He's visiting the White House today, as you likely know. Karzai and the President spoke to reporters after private meetings on the war effort. Each leader downplaying highly publicized tensions between the two administrations.

BARACK OBAMA: Obviously, they're going to be tensions in such a complicated difficult environment. A lot of them were simply overstated.

HAMID KARZAI: There are moments that we speak frankly to each other. And that frankness would only add to the strength of the relationship.

RATIGAN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Karzai's meetings this week will determine whether or not she helps to secure congressional approval for a $33 billion war-funding bill, that of course being your money. Here to 'Mix It Up,' our panel, former Clinton White House staffer David Goodfriend and Republican strategist Brent Littlefield. Pleasure to see you both. Brent, I'll begin with you. Is there anybody in this administration on either side that can actually justify the American presence in Afghanistan at this point?

BRENT LITTLEFIELD: Well, look, we had the previous president, took the country in there because of the attacks on 9/11. And that-

RATIGAN: That was almost ten years ago, right? I mean that was a long time ago.  

LITTLEFIELD: That's right. That's right. And we have a current president that campaigned on and has continued to say that he's going to increase our presence and increase our activity in Afghanistan. I think what happened today was fascinating. At the end of the last administration, Hamid Karzai, in his last press conference with President Bush thanked the American people. And then since that time, we've had the White House press secretary fighting with Karzai, saying that he was making statements against the West that were tirades, that he was railing on the West.

RATIGAN: Sure.

LITTLEFIELD: Clearly Karzai hasn't been happy and now they're back there claiming that they're holding hands and there just were minor differences. I guess you just played a clip, the President said there were minor differences, but it was his own press secretary that was attacking Karzai about a month ago. So it's fascinating to watch what's happening there today.

RATIGAN: David, Richard Engel was on the program yesterday. He's in New York, obviously having spend a tremendous portion of his career, still, in the Middle East covering these wars in Afghanistan, on the ground. He is making the point that the Bush doctrine of fight them there and they won't get us here appears to be continuing to break down as we now default to just predator drone-them-to-death wherever they may be on remote control and an apparent, sort of, nonevent in Afghanistan. It's like a charade. I don't understand how this war in Afghanistan is protecting me from a car bomber in midtown. In fact, I'm concerned that the war in Afghanistan is creating more car bombers in Pakistan that want to come to midtown. Is there a rational defense that you have heard for America being in Afghanistan a decade after we went in to degrade the Taliban?

DAVID GOODFRIEND: Well, is there a rational defense, yes. Whether or not I agree with it is probably immaterial.

RATIGAN: And what is it? I mean, yeah, sure.

GOODFRIEND: Fair enough.

RATIGAN: What is – what's the rational defense to spending $10 there for every $1 we spend here. And every soldier, every journalist, every person you talk to says, 'I don't know why we're in Afghanistan.' The only reason we're fighting is because we're in Afghanistan.

GOODFRIEND: Well, I think that may be oversimplifying it. Look, let me give you the rationale and then, if I may, I'd like to answer your broader question.

RATIGAN: Go for it.

GOODFRIEND: Which is why should we spend it? So the rationale really has to do with the leadership of the Taliban, its location both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And the Taliban now emerging – not Al Qaeda mind you – but Taliban now emerging as a hotbed of terrorist activity. And look, one of the things I was thinking about before coming on the show, and this gets more to your broader question of 'why are we there,' we actually supported the Taliban when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

RATIGAN: Of course, we armed them.

GOODFRIEND: And so – and so it's yet another example of you know, unfortunately, the United States feeling that we can sort of change the course of history in this part of the world that even Alexander the Great failed to change. So you know, look we're-

RATIGAN: But the question is, why am I safer? Why are you safer? Why is Brent safer? Why are our viewer – why is anybody in this country safer because we're spending a lot of money and spending a bunch our soldiers and weapons to a land-locked mountainous nation in the Middle East for the past ten years, and appear to be doing – staying there for God knows how much longer. Do you – do you have any-

GOODFRIEND: I mean, look, Dylan – look, Dylan, maybe I'm not the right guy for this – for this particular segment. I happen to believe that we spend too much money on the military as it is. $700 Billion a year is too much. I don't think that with a hundred bases overseas, our national security is better. I think what we need are jobs and more of that money for folks here at home. You are talking to a guy who agrees with you on that. Now, that having been said, is the President rational when he says we ought to be doing more to attack the bases of the terrorists? Sure. But you know what, he's even said in 2011, that's next year, that the number of troops, the American troops, starts to come down and we have other forms of support, economic support. So look, I think this nation of ours would do better with half, 50%, the military budget we have today.

RATIGAN: Yeah.

GOODFRIEND: Okay?

RATIGAN: And that's for another day, but what strikes me, again, is the Richard Engel comment. America's knickers are into a bunch to the point it's ready to throw everybody out because we're taking people to the Caribbean without giving them proper rights and putting them in prison but having kids with joysticks in New Jersey and Las Vegas dropping predator bombs on civilians willy-nilly is a valid foreign policy, strikes me as if I've gone crazy. We'll save it for another day.

GOODFRIEND: Look, you're not going to get me to defend it. I wish-

RATIGAN: No I'm not, I know. I get it. No listen, nobody's going to defend it, it's crazy.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC