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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

John 'Potemkin' McCain

Sen. John McCain has been saddled with the term 'McCain Doctrine,' describing the troop surge idea. McCain had long argued that sending more troops to Iraq was a winner and many wondered if the Arizona Senator proposed it because he thought no one would take him up on it. Without the surge, McCain would've been able to claim he could've won the Iraq war, had anyone listened to him. Now, he's stuck with it.

So John McCain has an interest in proving that the Iraq War is now going well. And he recently set out on a BS campaign to convince americans of that. Allow me to quote myself from a couple days ago:

John McCain's 'Straight Talk Express' took a little detour through right wing fantasyland recently. Speaking on Bill Bennett's Morning in America radio show, McCain told the audience that the troop surge was working and said, "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today." He also told Wolf Blitzer Bagdhad was safe and Blitzer was repeating a 'three-month-old talking point' [i.e., that Baghdad is dangerous]. Then he told Wolf that Gen. Petraeus tools around in an unarmored humvee. That didn't go over so well, mostly because everyone and their brother knows it's a bunch of crap.

So McCain went out to prove that Baghdad's safe. He took a one hour stroll through the city's market with '100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead' and body armor -- just like your average iraqi who has 100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead and body armor. He didn't say you didn't have to take reasonable precautions -- like 100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead and body armor.

Here's a question. What does all this PR do to actually improve conditions in Iraq? Not one helluva lot. How does any of this help the troops? It doesn't.

In fact, it does the opposite. McCain required more than 100 personnel to go out and play protect-the-candidate, while he wandered around proving how safe Baghdad is if you're surrounded by armed soldiers and helicopters.

This photo-op tour didn't really accomplish much, mostly because it didn't fool anyone. NBC Iraq correspondent Tom Aspell told The Imus Show, "It looked as though the whole trip had been arranged by someone to get rid of the negative publicity about [McCain's] remarks in the States earlier in the week. It seemed as though he'd come to Baghdad, made a point of going to a market, staging this kind of visit to the market, and it just seemed to backfire." He told Imus that, with the kind of protection McCain had, 'even Paris Hilton could ride a bicycle in a bikini through Anbar province.'

In other words, the whole thing was a transparent joke.

John McCain's continuing support of the War in Iraq and the troop surge policy serves only John McCain. It won't help end the war -- with victory or otherwise. In fact, it won't do anything other than extend the war with one last Hail Mary. The fact that his polling's in the dumper and his cash on hand is anemic makes someone actually taking him up on his surge plan a real problem. It has to work.

Or appear to, anyway. And, in the end, it's all about John McCain. His Baghdad photo-op is an excellent metaphor -- he's relying on the troops to keep him safe politically and putting them in unnecessary danger in the process. The war is long past the point where anything can be turned around. All McCain wants to do is string out the fighting until he's safely in the Oval Office.

If we look at iraqi reality, we see what we're really fighting for. Even the government is in disarray.

Juan Cole, Informed Comment:

Al-Hayat [Life] reports in Arabic that a tit for tat debate broke out in the Iraqi parliament on Sunday. Shiite delegates from the United Iraqi Alliance demanded the expulsion of all Arabs from Iraq. By "Arabs," they mean the foreign nationals of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt, etc. These persons are Sunnis and the Shiites are implying that they tend to be recruited for terrorism.

In response, the Sunni speaker of the house, Mahmud al-Mashhadani, suggested that "non-Arabs" also be expelled, by which he meant Iranians.

So, the iraqi government will get around to ethnic cleansing as soon as they can decide which ethnicity Iraq needs to be cleansed of. This is what John McCain is defending -- this government -- in exchange for a slim hope of winning the White House.

How evil is that? How opportunist? McCain seems to believe that his chance at the presidency is a cause worth dying for -- so long as it's someone else doing all the dying. He'll even go out and try to convince everyone that the boat's not sinking, just to keep things going long enough to get through the general election. Who cares how many people drown? After he puts his hand on the Bible to swear in, one assumes, Iraq can go to hell.

This is John McCain in a nutshell. Not extremely different from George W. Bush. Maybe a bit smarter, but not any more concerned with other people's lives than the Sociopath in Chief. Who cares how many americans and iraqis die? It's worth it if it gets more people to wear McCain campaign buttons.

What's true of McCain is true of too many pro-war republicans -- they've dug themselves this hole and, after selling the living hell out of it, now they think they have to live in it. There are some left who still think we have to fight this war, but they're pretty few at this point. Now, the hawks are all about not embarrassing themselves.

So the war goes on, pointlessly in any sense that actually matters. People will keep fighting and dying so republicans don't take a political hit. They aren't dying for America or democracy or freedom, they're dying for the republican party. The GOP sold the idea that anything other than fighting until there are either no insurgents or no americans left is synonymous with cowardice. They've made it too difficult for themselves to switch positions without being hypocrites. They've made it politically impossible to actually end the war.

So John McCain is left fighting reality. He can walk around with entire regiments protecting him all he wants, but it won't change a damned thing in Iraq. What's important, to the Senator from Arizona anyway, is that you think everything's going well. Like Bush and the neocons, McCain seems to think that perception and reality are one and the same. At least in a practical sense. If you set up enough Potemkin villages, everyone -- other than the dead -- will be happy.

And who cares about the dead? It's not like they vote.


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