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Olbermann: U.S. 'Provoked' Russia, Sees 'Troubling Neocon Echoes'

By Media Research Center
August 13, 2008

On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blamed the Bush administration for Russia's invasion of Georgia, charging that "the U.S. knowingly provoked Moscow for years by building up Georgia's military," and asked if "the administration essentially stoked the fires of this conflict by the way we contributed to the building up of Georgia and sort of encourage its President to do something like this?" The MSNBC host was also distressed at the words of "neo-conservatives" who favor a firm response against Russia, and referred to "troubling neo-con echoes." Guest Flynt Leverett expressed his concern that "a very powerful group of neo-conservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party" would undermine Barack Obama's "more nuanced approach" to dealing with the situation as these neo-conservative "elements" move into the Obama campaign.

     [This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Olbermann teased the August 11 show charging that John McCain is "trying to turn death near the Black Sea into political points at home." He also took exception with McCain for employing an advisor, Randy Scheunemann, who lobbies on behalf of Georgia.

     After relaying that Barack Obama rejected McCain's "geopolitical simplicity" by placing some of the blame on Georgia, Olbermann took on neo-conservatives: "McCain's language, meanwhile, was echoed by the architects of the Iraq war. Vice President Cheney saying, quote, 'Russian aggression must not go unanswered.' Fellow neo-con William Kristol arguing that Georgia's participation in Iraq means, quote, 'We owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely, we cannot simply stand by.' And troubling as the neocon echoes are, perhaps more embarrassing two elements of McCain's speech -- one, this report from CQPolitics.com wherein a Wikipedia editor pointing out at least three passages from the McCain's speech today, that it says most people would consider to have been derived directly from Wikipedia."

     Olbermann soon brought aboard former NSC Senior Director Flynt Leverett, who expressed his concern that Obama's "more nuanced approach" to the situation may be undermined by "neo-conservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party" relocating from the Hillary Clinton campaign onto the Obama campaign: "There's a very powerful group of, what I would call, neo-conservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party, and a lot of these people were attached to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now, the Obama campaign is trying to figure out how to take some of these people in. And I think there's a risk that Senator Obama could, in the end, end up ceding control or shaping the direction of his policy on important issues to some of these elements."

     After agreeing with Leverett that the situation "requires a very nuanced approach," Olbermann asked if President Bush was to blame for "stoking the fires." Olbermann: "At the same time that Russia was mishandled, did we not, essentially, did the administration not essentially stoke the fires of this conflict by the way we have contributed to the building up of Georgia and sort of encourage its President to do something like this?"

     While speaking with his second guest, Rachel Maddow of Air America, Olbermann claimed that America's military has been "rendered impotent" by President Bush and contended that some American voters "assume we can win anything provided we chant, 'USA, USA, USA,' loudly enough":
     "Like it or not, a lot of voters assume we can win anything provided we chant, 'USA, USA, USA,' loudly enough. When your foreign policy positions reinforce that as McCain's do, throughout, not just Russia and Georgia, but throughout the world, when it's that way versus the message of nuance and complexity that Obama touched on today, how does Obama get that message through in a world in which everybody just breaks in to cheers at the idea, 'Okay, we're going to go, we're going to fight,' even though there are no troops to fight with, and we're not going to take on Russia, and more than what we could do to them, the Russians could shut off the oil spigot tomorrow and we'd be at $7 gasoline?"

     Maddow then mocked the neo-conservative view on war policy, with Olbermann expressing agreement:

     MADDOW: Honestly, the neoconservative position is that, 'You know, look what we did in Gulf War I, look at those smart bombs, that only took five minutes when we toppled, we did what we wanted to do there.' Ever since then, the neocon position has been, that using military force is something that is precise-
     OLBERMANN: Right.
     MADDOW: -that has predictable consequences that always gets us what we want and no Americans die. And they've got this magical idea of American military omnipotence that we can use our military anywhere to accomplish any sort of objective and there'll never be any blowback. Americans just don't believe it anymore. It's a fairytale.

     On the same show, Olbermann also continued to push conspiracy theories regarding the Anthrax attack case from 2001. During the show's regular "Bushed" segment, Olbermann advanced the theory of a Bush administration "coverup":
     "Anthrax-gate. The idea that the FBI and the Bush administration are somehow covering up what really happened by blaming it on the late Dr. Bruce Ivins creeps more and more total plausibility. The Murdoch Street Journal reported that the flask containing the so-called 'Ivins Anthrax' could have been accessed not by 10 people at Fort Detrick in Maryland, but by more than 100. Now, the Washington Post reports that the supposed exact genetic match between the 'Ivins Anthrax' and the Anthrax that showed up in the victims, that same genetic match shows up in the Anthrax in 15 other labs."

     On the bright side, at least Olbermann did not theorize that President Bush intentionally arranged for a Russia-Georgia war to happen to distract attention away from the upcoming Democratic Convention, which would be in line with his past conspiracy theories. At least he hasn't advanced that theory yet.

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