NBC's Richard Engel Sounds Very Angry With NBC's Richard Engel

“Engel told Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press that the growth of ISIL in Iraq and Syria was ‘incredibly predictable,'” the Washington Free Beacon noted yesterday, watching NBC’s Meet the Press so the rest of us don’t have to:


“We reported about it. Reporters risked their lives going into Syria to talk about this buildup of extremists in the country, yet nothing seems to have been done. And now we have a very serious situation,” said Engel.

Engel also reported that military commanders are “apoplectic” over the president’s inaction in Syria: “I speak to military commanders, I speak to former officials, and they are apoplectic. They think that this is a clear and present danger. They think something needs to be done.”

“One official said that this was a Freudian slip,” Engel continued, referring to Obama’s admission last week that he does not have a strategy yet for Syria. “That it shows how the United States does not have a policy to deal with Syria, even when you have ISIS, which has effectively become a terrorist army, roughly 20,000 strong.”

As Engel told Andrea Mitchell, his fellow Democrat operative with a byline, The rise of ISIS was entirely predictable. Particularly when you have a president who, as Sen. Blutarsky might say, f***ed up and trusted the advice that Richard Engel proffered to Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight Show in 2011:

LENO: Well, I mean, our goal initially was to hunt down bin laden and kill him. It took us ten years. We killed him. Over? Time to get out?

ENGEL: It’s time to have a withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think that’s what the speech was talking about tonight. And it’s probably time to end the global war on terrorism. Think of it this way. Osama bin laden organized an attack that was carried out against the United States, New York, Pentagon, and the other aircraft, with 19 attackers, 19 guys with box cutters. An attack that’s probably cost almost nothing. And in the end, Osama bin ladin was killed by 24 Americans in helicopters. So what did we do in between? And all of the ground wars, the Iraq war, which had nothing to do with al qaeda. Afghanistan, which is going on now. Still going on. And I think that’s what I think needs to end. This chapter in our history.


Recently retired President Obama evidently agreed, as it was during that same year that he exited virtually all US troops from Iraq. The entirely predictable result had multifaceted consequences. A year ago, Boston talk radio host Michael Graham noted how having those troops there would have influenced the administration’s actions in Syria.  As Graham wrote, “Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq will be viewed by history as one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of all time.” Or as Richard Fernandez posited last month, “The Obama administration has reached what one might call the ‘Pol Pot Aftermath’ of its Middle Eastern policy.”

But hey, aren’t those all acceptable results from Engel’s perspective? In 2006, Engel was quoted by Howard Kurtz, then still with the Washington Post, as saying, “I think war should be illegal. I’m basically a pacifist.”

George Orwell, call your office. In  1942, Orwell wrote, “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other:”

Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me’. The idea that you can somehow remain aloof from and superior to the struggle, while living on food which British sailors have to risk their lives to bring you, is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security. Mr Savage remarks that ‘according to this type of reasoning, a German or Japanese pacifist would be “objectively pro-British”.’ But of course he would be! That is why pacifist activities are not permitted in those countries (in both of them the penalty is, or can be, beheading) while both the Germans and the Japanese do all they can to encourage the spread of pacifism in British and American territories. The Germans even run a spurious ‘freedom’ station which serves out pacifist propaganda indistinguishable from that of the P.P.U. They would stimulate pacifism in Russia as well if they could, but in that case they have tougher babies to deal with. In so far as it takes effect at all, pacifist propaganda can only be effective against those countries where a certain amount of freedom of speech is still permitted; in other words it is helpful to totalitarianism.


It’s certainly helpful to ISIS, both in their formation to capitalize on America’s withdrawal from the region, and now, as they spread death everywhere they go. Or as Mark Steyn noted last month, “ISIS are fast-track Nazis” with a penchant for YouTube-friendly snuff films of their many victims.

But then, Engel isn’t the only Democrat operative at NBC to have a change of heart on the issue. As I quipped last month, Rachel Maddow transformed herself into a neocon so slowly, only Moe Lane happened to notice; the Red State blogger wrote:

Mind you, I agree that ISIS needs to be squashed like an absolute bug.  I just wish that I had a time machine.  It would be priceless to see the reaction on 2004-Rachel Maddow’s face when she saw video evidence that 2014-Maddow was now committing herself to a morals-based, easy-to-escalate campaign in Iraq and Syria.  Or, shoot, the look on June-2014 ‘Iraq is the new South Vietnam**!’ Maddow’s face.  Because I’m pretty sure that Maddow was kind of arguing back then that, hey, the Communist takeover worked out all right over there, hey? She certainly didn’t want to go back into Iraq then.

Seriously, this is why you pick your principles first, and then let your policy positions be informed by them.  Because when you don’t – when you pick what you want to do, and don’t bother working out why you would want to do it – then you end up like Rachel Maddow.  Because she’s not really a neoconservative, you see.  If Maddow was, she’d have a moral center to her universe that was simply better than Barack Obama wants to do this, and I trust him implicitly. And she wouldn’t be required to change her opinions every three months, because the problem here is that Barack Obama here has no moral center that’s better than I want to do this, and I trust myself implicitly.


And the mother of MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow is also vacillating wildly on the issue:


Don’t worry though, Maddow, Engel, and others at 30 Rock have plenty of time to reassess things, depending upon who wins in 2016:

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Related: Left-leaning Business Insider.com had the following headline on Friday: “White House: We’re Not At ‘War’ With ISIS.”

To paraphrase the famous aphorism often attributed to Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in war with ISIS, but ISIS is very interested in war with you.


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