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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nothing is the President's Fault

John McCain isn't running for president. Not in the constitutional sense, anyway. McCain is running for the extra-constitutional position of Guy-Who-Does-Whatever-The-Generals-Tell-Him. This position was invented by the current GWDWTGTH, George W, Bush, so he could pretend that irrational, irresponsible, and braindead policies for the occupation of Iraq are not his own. In the Bush playbook, once you start a war, it's completely out of your hands and Generals get to dictate policies to the executive. Once this happens, the executive doesn't even get to disagree.

Of course, in practice Bush's GWDWTGTH isn't at all what he pretends it to be. If one of your military commanders give you advice you don't like, you fire him. Then you hire some yes-man and pretend that all of your ideas are his. The position of GWDWTGTH has built-in plausible deniability. It allows the executive to wash his hands of all responsibility and claim that stubbornly pursuing unpopular and boneheaded policies is the only course of action available to him.

John McCain expressed his desire to be the GWDWTGTH last week. In trying to explain away his "hundred years" comment, McCain outlined his position as identical to Bush's.

Address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Missouri, courtesy of National Review (emphasis mine):

Throughout this period, we must continue to help the Iraqis protect themselves against the terrorists and the insurgents. We must press ahead against the radical Shi’ite militias and the Iranian-backed Special Groups, and support the Iraqi government’s efforts to defeat them. We must continue to support the Sunni volunteers of the Iraqi Awakening as they stand up to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, especially in the ongoing battle for Mosul. And we must continue to build the capacities of the Iraqi Security Forces so that they can play an increasingly strong and neutral role in suppressing sectarian violence.

All this will require that we keep a sufficient level of American forces in Iraq until security conditions are such that our commanders on the ground recommend otherwise. It also means we must increase levels of reconstruction assistance, so that Iraq’s political and economic development can proceed in the security that our forces and Iraqi Security Forces provide.

John McCain is running as a military expert. Now he's saying that he won't actually be running the war -- that's someone else's job. In which case, you've got to ask yourself, what the hell difference does it make if you're running for the position of Guy-Who-Does-Whatever-The-Generals-Tell-Him? You'd assume even a military genius would be wasted in that position. After all, you let slip the dogs of war, then the dogs run around doing whatever the hell they want. The reasoning behind the GWDWTGTH may have built-in plausible deniability, but it doesn't have built-in logic.

A quick gear-switch -- I'll tie these together, I swear. Yesterday, I reported that the current NIE on Iraq is classified. In fact, even the reason it's classified is classified. Those who've seen it say there aren't any secrets in there, which guarantees that it's bad news. Good news gets blasted over and over on FOX, bad news gets marked "TOP SECRET! EYES ONLY!!"

Yesterday also saw another top secret document come to light. The British paper Guardian reported that John McCain's 100 years in Iraq is pretty much the plan.

A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked "secret" and "sensitive", is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without time limit.

The memo calls this all "temporary," but the absence of a time limit renders that word almost philosophical -- the sun is likewise temporary. Given this open-ended agreement, the testimony of Ambassador Ryan Crocker to Congress is more than a little disturbing. In that testimony, Crocker told Hillary Clinton that the US and Iraq can make agreements -- agreements that don't need to be ratified by Congress. This despite the fact that any binding agreement couldn't be called anything other than a treaty.

Adding to the absurdity of this statement, Crocker told her that any agreement would have to be ratified by the Iraqi Parliament.

Here's a fun question; which country took over which country again? Pro-war people keep telling us that we're "fighting for our freedom," yet Iraq gets to tell us what to do. That make any damned sense at all to you?

So here's where we stand right now; McCain wants to be the Guy-Who-Does-Whatever-The-Generals-Tell-Him. He wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years -- except when that sounds bad, then he doesn't. He'll be able to stay in Iraq for 100 years. His adoption of the GWDWTGTH strategy makes his position on how long we'll stay in Iraq meaningless anyway -- at least, if we take it at face value and assume it's not a bunch of Bush-like BS. McCain, after all, won't be able to decide that.

That's the job of the Generals who tell him what to do.


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