The Spectacle Blog

The ‘Distraction’ Meme, Recycled

By on 6.18.08 | 11:25AM

In response to John McCain's criticism of his remarks to ABC News about terrorism, Barack Obama says:

"Let's think about this: These are the same guys who helped engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11," Obama told reporters on his campaign plane.

This is an utter non sequitur. Osama bin Laden and his gang escaped from the battle of Tora Bora into the Pakistani borderlands in December 2001 -- a full 15 months before the "distraction" in Iraq. The conventional military forces used in Iraq could not have been used to hunt down bin Laden, except by invading Pakistan. Did any of the reporters on the Obama campaign plane ask the senator if his remark meant that he favors a U.S. military invasion of Pakistan?

I hasten to add that this "distraction" argument is still a non sequitur, even if you believe that the Iraq invasion was misguided and mishandled. By the time U.S. forces went into Iraq, Osama had been hiding out in his tribal sanctuary near Pakistan's northwestern frontier for more than a year, and no Democrat in 2002-03 was demanding an invasion of Pakistan to go after al Qaeda.

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