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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

If There's Nothing to be Afraid of, Would Anyone Vote for McCain?

I may be in the minority on the left in believing that we're not going to attack Iran. Yes, we've been doing a lot of saber-rattling. Yes, our leadership is insane enough to do it. Yes, we're stepping up covert actions against Iran -- to the point of funding the al Qaeda- tied Iranian People's Resistance Movement, hypocritically making the Bush administration a state-sponsor of terrorism.

But how long have we been frightened with the scarecrow of war with Iran -- one year, two, three? We fire on Iranian boats, we move carrier groups into the Persian Gulf, we hear that Israel's going to get the ball rolling with an attack of their own. But nothing ever happens. I'm starting to think all this "war with Iran" stuff is a diplomatic game of good cop-bad cop. Unfortunately for the cops, it only makes them look indecisive; "We're cooking something up, just you wait. It's gonna be really bad..."

That it also freaks people in the US out is probably not coincidental. Bush has turned the Republican party into the party of fear. As long as you're so damned afraid you can't keep your pants dry, you'll agree to pretty much anything. And you'll look the other way when it comes to crimes like torture. The GOP has also been using the fear card to give them a leg up in elections. They're the tough guys. Never mind that these "tough guys" always seem to get their asses kicked. The "tough guys" didn't stop 9/11, Iraq continues to be uncontrollable, and Afghanistan is going south in a big hurry. They talk tough, so that must mean they are, recent history be damned.

But what will happen to them when Iraq isn't an issue and we have no reason to freak out over Iran? Will they claim Raul Castro has a death ray, that Robert Mugabe's third-rate military power constitutes a "threat to America," that some nasty little far-flung dictatorship like Turmenistan has designs on world domination?

If they don't have a boogeyman to scare voters with, what will Republicans run on? The problem with Republican ideology is that their positions on most issues are pretty unpopular. Everything boils down to sink or swim. Their idea of health care reform is removing restrictions on the industry to make it even more dominated by faceless corporations. Social Security reform is privatization, which is basically abolishment. Their economic policies are apparent in our current situation, which even Republicans aren't happy with.

Take John McCain. Lose "war, war, war" and his signature issue is global free trade. Turns out that most people aren't fans.


As John McCain prepares to promote the advantages of free trade during a high-profile trip to Colombia and Mexico, a poll released Tuesday suggests the issue may pose a political hurdle for the Arizona senator as the general election campaign heats up.

According to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 51 percent of the Americans questioned view foreign trade as a threat to the economy — the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of respondents report holding negative views on free trade.

Not a huge majority by any means, but in an election, 51% is the magic number. Anything below that really doesn't give a candidate much to worry about. A lot of people brought up Hillary Clinton's "high negatives" in the Democratic primary, but I don't think I ever did. Mostly because she never got over 50% disapproval and that made those negatives irrelevant. 51% is the sweat number.

John McCain may wind up running without Iraq or Iran. For Iraq's part, the Iraqi Parliament is about an inch away from kicking us out. McCain might have reason to thank them for that -- his position on the occupation is killing him with voters. On the other hand, I don't see Bush leaving. Iraq would find it's a "sovereign state" whose sovereignty extends only so far as it's allowed to by the occupying force. Bush has said he'd leave if he were asked to by the government, but saying one thing one week and something entirely different the next has never stopped him before. There is no truth in this President.

But what about Iran? Well, there's good news for sane people and bad news for crazy neocon warmongers. There are signs that war with Iran may be completely unnecessary -- as opposed to just unnecessary -- and that they may stop being scary enough for McCain and the Republicans to use as a scarecrow.

McClatchy Newspapers:

Iran's senior diplomat said Tuesday that Tehran was seriously considering a new offer from six world powers to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, and he praised the package as "constructive."

The unusually positive remarks by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to a small group of reporters raised hope that a negotiated solution can be found to defuse the crisis.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend the enrichment of uranium that can be used for nuclear weapons, and the Bush administration has refused direct talks with Iran until it meets that condition.

Of course, this is nowhere near a done deal, but it does bring up the question; if John McCain can't freak out over Iran or Iraq, just what is his reason for existing?

And it doesn't help any that Iran has come to this point with the world because the world did something Bush and McCain argued was reckless and naive -- talking to Iran. Bush, before the Israeli Knesset, compared this to the appeasement of the Nazis, as if people were arguing that we give Iran the Sudetenland. John McCain agreed and upped the ante, comparing Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain. McCain also made a ridiculous argument about Reagan and the Iranian hostage crisis that ignored the plain historical fact of the Iran-Contra arms for hostages scandal. "He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran," Baghdad Johnny said, "he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home." Maybe Reagan didn't sit down with those religious extremists, but someone who worked for him did. Reagan basically paid a ransom. Which, of course, makes Ronald Reagan a Nazi appeaser.

The Nazi appeasers who've brought us to this stage are Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and -- wait for it -- the United States. Iran has finally agreed to consider a two year-old joint offer that includes many appeasey elements -- McClatchy says it gives "Iran political, economic and security rewards if it 'verifiably suspends its enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.'" McCain would call this a "carrot and stick" approach. Bush would say it's "rewarding bad behavior." People who aren't freakin' crazy would call this "productive."

So, not only are McCain's ideas for international diplomacy very close to being proven wrong, but his entire argument as to why he has to be president is in jeopardy. If there's nothing to be afraid of, what's McCain going to pretend he can protect us from?

There doesn't seem to be any place for John McCain in a relatively peaceful world. And that's a good reason to reject him right there.


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