Crackbrain McCain Plays Churchill Card - Part II

Thursday, April 10, 2008 11:43 AM

Let me drop the Churchillian avenue of inquiry for a moment to address McCain's current campaign strategy as it relates to Iraq and the so-called “surge” as propagated by General David Petraeus. McCain stated not too long ago that the fate of his 2008 presidential campaign will largely be determined by the success of the “surge” in Iraq or lack thereof. Like playing the Churchill Card, support for “the surge” is part and parcel of McCain's game plan, highlighting patriotism and heroism, with the not-so-subtle subtext that it takes a hero like himself to lead America.

McCain was a strong supporter of the “neoconservative”-plotted intervention in Iraq in 2002, presided over by Cheney and Bush. He thought it was a great idea at the time. He still does, or says he does. He's running on that pro-war record, and therefore has a lot to explain. He is, in fact, betting his entire campaign on the war.

I'm coming from a different perspective. Like most writers, I'm not running for President or anything else, and I don't need to kid people or pander to special-interest groups for money and support. The Iraq war policy of Cheney-Bush--which was dreamed up by the “neoconservatives” and the U.S. Israel Lobby--was nuts from the start.

A handful of commentators on both the left and right of the political spectrum, including myself, denounced it from the start, but to no purpose. The foreign policy of the “neocons” and of the hyper-Zionist war criminal Ariel Sharon was wholeheartedly adopted by the Washington establishment due to American domestic political considerations. Doubters and nay-sayers were ridiculed or ignored.

The “neocon”/Sharon policy was authorized by Congress, including the Democratic leadership in the Senate, back in October 2002.  Among others, this leadership included Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Diane Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Lieberman. To oppose invading Iraq meant you were soft on terrorism, at least according to Karl Rove and AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The Democratic leadership voted for the war simply because the Israel Lobby owns the Democratic Party.

As for the brain-dead Republicans, the war was vetted by the White House to a remarkable extent because Karl Rove wanted to get the Republicans in on this racket, to get their fair share. Likud liminaries have not called G.W. Bush “the greatest friend Israel has had in the White House” for nothing. McCain wants to carry the same torch for the same reason.

That superlative Senator, Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, is no longer a Democrat, but he remains in the Senate as an “independent” and continues to be a strong cheer-leader for Wolfowitz’s War, no matter what disastrous direction the war takes. Lieberman now serves as John McCain's consigliere and traveling companion, when Lieberman is not working on schemes to start a war with Iran. Actually, being consigliere to the Republican nominee for U.S. President nicely complements Lieberman's warmongering agenda on behalf of his counterparts in Tel Aviv. First, there was Iraq, now there is Iran. Call it networking for war.

The background to the Iraq fiasco and the plot to attack Iran has been covered extensively in previous essays.  For example, “Was it the Oil, all along?” and “Regime Change, Redux” and “Immediate Need of Inspector Maigret, among others, all of which I wrote for Taki's Top Drawer in 2007.


In the meantime, it seems to have finally dawned on the average American, heretofore in narcosis, that the war which the White House promoted in 2002, and then executed, has been a very expensive mistake as well as a confidence trick from the beginning. Somehow the same realization has not penetrated the remarkable cognitive faculties of Senator McCain, who prefers to get his facts from Lieberman and his inspiration from Likud apparatchik, Robert Kagan. Either that, or McCain is pretending to be more obtuse and ignorant than he actually is. Does it matter? 

All we need to know about Iraq now, and all that matters, was stated in a few sentences by McCain's thoughtful fellow Republican Senator, and fellow Vietnam veteran, Chuck Hagel, on September 14th, 2007 in an interview on the Bill Maher RealTime television show: “Every country in the Middle East is as combustible as it’s been probably in the history of the Middle East. And there’s been no strategic context from this Administration on anything. It’s all about tactics. And that is what I think, more than anything else, has gotten us in the mess that we’re in today....  This war policy, where we are today, and the continuation of this policy, is the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of our country, and we’re going to pay a very high price for this.” [My emphasis.] 

While McCain continues to wave the flag and live in denial, Hagel has been telling the unpleasant truth like it is, which fact meant that Chuck Hagel could not run for President. As a result, we are stuck with three outstandingly bad choices. McCain may be out of his mind; Hillary is the biggest phony one could possibly imagine; and Barack Obama leaves much to be desired in the experience department.

True, Obama did not vote for the invasion of Iraq like Hillary and McCain, but we will never know if he would have voted for it, because he was not in the Senate at the time, and so was not subjected to the hysteria and the extreme political pressure which the Washington establishment had turned on. Recall that Senator Hagel succumbed to that pressure, and has regretted it ever since.

I'm not a fan of Bill Maher, because he impresses me as a leftist smart aleck with no respect for anything, but he certainly did a fine job in the Hagel interview of last September. You may recall that General Petraeus was in Washington at the time, testifying before the Senate. Maher made the following important point to Senator Hagel: “I’ve heard you say before that if you really want to know what’s going on in the war zone, you ask a sergeant or a corporal. But, this week in Washington, we asked a General. And that created a lot of controversy, what General Petraeus said. Isn’t it a dirty trick, sort of, on the American people, when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell job?”

Hagel's immediate response: “Well, it's not only a dirty trick, but it’s dishonest, it’s hypocritical, it's dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is, this is not Petraeus’ policy. It’s Bush’s policy. And the military--it’s certainly very clear in the Constitution--is there, subservient to the elected public officials of this country. And I think we all agree on that. Certainly, the military does. But, to put our military in a position that this Administration has put them in, is just wrong. And it’s dangerous.” [My emphasis.] 

At the moment, April 2008, General David Petraeus  and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to the "Green Zone" in Baghdad, are back in Washington, testifying about the military and political outlook in Iraq, and putting the best face on a deplorable situation. And McCain continues to be in denial and continues to play politics with the war. Last Monday, April 7th, McCain gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which is posted on the McCain for President website. Everyone should read this speech--probably written by speechwriter Kagan--to get an idea of just how misguided and self-deluded McCain is.

Item. “At the beginning of last year, we were engaged in a great debate about what to do in Iraq. Four years of a badly-conceived military strategy had brought us almost to the point of no return. Sectarian violence in Iraq was spiraling out of control, life had become a struggle for survival, and a full-scale civil war seemed almost unavoidable.” [My emphasis.]

In all humility, may I suggest that the “badly-conceived military strategy” was to invade Iraq in the first place. McCain does not bother to explicate what he is talking about or provide exact information. Is McCain suggesting that Cheney and Rumsfeld and their sidekick, G.W. Bush, presided over an incorrect military strategy for four years in Iraq? They let the U.S. military do that? Why? Are they really that incompetent? Who was directing the strategy and actually responsible for it? McCain or his ghostwriter does not assign blame, leaving us to wonder.

Isn't it clear now that both the military and political strategies in Iraq were deeply flawed and extremely puzzling? Who was calling the shots during most of the occupation, until proconsul Paul Bremer vanished from the scene? For some ideas about that, see my essay “The Kissinger Connection”. 

Item. “In the year that has passed, our nation showed its strength, and its deep sense of global responsibility. Instead of abandoning Iraq to civil war, genocide, and terror, and the Middle East to the destabilizing effects of these consequences, we changed strategies. We sent to Iraq additional troops, many of them on their third or fourth tour, and a great, seasoned general [Petraeus] to lead them, with a battle plan that, at long last, actually addressed the challenges we faced in Iraq.” [My emphasis.]

Please be advised that “we” and “our nation” did not do a thing.  We are hostages. All we can do is watch, as Dick Cheney tells George Bush what to do next. According to McCain, everything the White House did in Iraq up until General Petraeus was put in charge of Iraq was a mistake, aside from invading the country. 

Does McCain not comprehend that the  “destabilizing effects” on the Middle East of the “civil war, genocide and terror” which he deplores were all made possible thanks to the U.S. invasion in 2003, authorized by the U.S. Senate and Congress, and thanks to the prior campaign of subverting the country, also authorized by the U.S. Senate and Congress, going back to the economic sanctions of the Clinton years, all of which led up to the invasion and our present nightmare? 

In point of fact, from Islamabad to Beirut, it is U.S. policy itself which created the overall mess in the Middle East, not the terrorists or the “insurgents”. Washington created the terrorists and the “insurgents” in Iraq, just like it created the instability in Pakistan and in Lebanon, not to mention the impossible, gruesome situation in Palestine, which is at the core of all Mideast conflict.

America is now the beneficiary of the “blowback” from this long-term, bipartisan, Israel-centric policy of rule and ruin. Why do you think we were attacked on 9/11? Rien n’arrive par hasard. McCain wants us to trust him, going forward. With this kind of track record and these rotten results, why should we? 

Item. “Doing the right thing in the heat of a political campaign is not always the easiest thing. But when 4000 Americans have given their lives so that America does not suffer the worst consequences of our failure in Iraq, it is a necessary thing. In such a grave matter, we must put the nation's interests before our own ambitions.”  [My emphasis.]

Come again? Amazing. Whom does McCain think he is kidding, besides himself? Does he really believe that he is putting the nation's interests above his own ambitions? To the contrary, he has rationalized his crackbrained Iraq “strategy” to mean that America’s interests somehow correspond to his own quest for the Presidency. They are congruent. How convenient. What nonsense. 

And what are we to make of his remark about the four thousand Americans who have given their lives so that we do not suffer the worst consequences from “our failure in Iraq”? McCain has just let slip the horrible truth, and has unwittingly stated the obvious: the Washington adventure in Iraq, the invasion and occupation of that country, has been a failure. Four thousand Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have needlessly died in the execution of that failure. 

And what, pray tell, does McCain conclude from all of it? There will be bad consequences. And what to do now? Give him the job of President, and he will avoid the worst of the consequences. This is what McCain has said and implied to the electorate. It is opportunism and madness. In terms of logic and the facts, would it not make more sense to demand instead the immediate resignation of Cheney and Bush?

In translation and in summary, although there was no authentic threat from Iraq to begin with, the tactic of Dick Cheney, G.W. Bush, John McCain, et alia was to instill fear and brandish the “slam dunk” lie that there was a danger which required a preemptive war. The tactic worked, and the war took place.

Unfortunately, this same dishonest tactic is still operative today for McCain, five years later, in his crusade for the Presidency. The human tragedy and foreign policy fiasco which the invasion itself created--meaning chaos, civil war, instability and terrorism--must be feared today, just as much as the nonexistent threat of former times. Real or unreal,  fear must rule. Such is the McCain message. He believes that message to be his ticket to the White House. Time will tell.

Create a problem where none actually existed, then proclaim you are the man to solve the problem. If someone disagrees, then he or she is not supporting the troops and is putting his or her own ambition above the interests of the country. Very clever indeed.


Speaking of General David Petraeus, may I ask why is this military officer testifying on Capitol Hill without his boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, sitting at the same table? Petraeus is an agent, carrying out a policy, a policy determined by the Cheney-Bush Administration or, as I sometimes call it, the Cheney Regency.

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are presiding over a wreckage created by U.S. foreign policy officials, “neocon” pundits, and a subservient Congress. The Executive Branch officials under Cheney-Bush executing the policy have been either “neocons” or those who operated under the supervision of “neocons” and in accord with their Israel-centric foreign policy. In brief, Petraeus and Crocker are not responsible for the wreckage in Iraq, and they certainly cannot fix it. They are simply doing their job with the assets they have at hand. At best, they can limit the damage, manage it.

What is required is a fundamental reevaluation and honest reassessment of overall U.S. Mideast policy inside Washington, like what the Iraq Study Group was trying to do some months ago. It would be nice to salvage something meaningful from this $3 trillion dollar fiasco and colossal human tragedy, but nothing can be gained, unless we first learn from from the experience, starting with why it happened. One could start by exploring the Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Speaking of our fighting men stuck out there in Iraq, under the command of General Petraeus, last night (Tuesday, April 8th) on Keith Olbermann's  Countdown program, retired Lt. General William Odom had a word or two to say about them.

Last week, on April 2nd, General Odom testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “...we face a deteriorating political situation [in Iraq] with an over extended army. When the administration’s witnesses appear before you, you should make them clarify how long the army and marines can sustain this band-aid strategy. The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order. Only that step can break the paralysis now gripping US strategy in the region.” 

To Olbermann, Odom had the following frightful insight, when asked if the virtual open-ended stay in Iraq, as proposed by Cheney-Bush via Petraeus, is a physical possibility for our troops: “What's most interesting is, recently, the vice-chief of staff of the Army said precisely that, and also General Casey has said that, the chief of staff of the Army—that this is just not sustainable, and we are really brutalizing our troops, calling it supporting the troops.  We do have the option to not brutalize them, but we continue to do it.” [My emphasis.] 

I am beginning to wonder if, instead of  “the surge”, it would make more sense and be more appropiate at this point in the conflict for Washington to parachute the following reprobates: Cheney and Bush, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Elliott Abrams, Henry Kissinger and Paul Bremer, George Tenet and John Bolton, Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, Victor Davis Hanson and James Woolsey, Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright, Joe Lieberman and Newt Gingrich, Michael Ledeen and Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, Frank Gaffney and David Wurmser, Stephen Hadley and Fouad Ajami, John Hagee and Pat Robertson, Christopher Hitchens and Norman Podhoretz, Condoleezza Rice and Robert Kagan, Tony Blair and Nicholas Sarkozy, in addition to every idiot editor and contributor to the Weekly Standard and National Review, --parachute them into certain disturbed, dead-end neighborhoods of central and southern Iraq, supplying the aforesaid with candy bars, surplus Uzis from the IDF, and a caravan of refurbished Humvees, and allow these resourceful individuals, who orchestrated and enabled this war, to fend for themselves.

Putting their much-touted communication skills to work, it would be hoped that such important policy-makers and propagandists could negotiate a solution to our Iraq adventure, based on a speedy redeployment of themselves and our troops out of the area. If they felt compelled to call upon the good offices of Tehran to intervene in Iraq and to act as an intermediary, so much the better.

A side trip afterwards to inspect Iran's nuclear research facilities--to confirm that the December 2007 NIE is indeed correct, to wit, that this nuclear research is for peaceful civilian energy, and not atomic bombs--would be a most serendipitous event, clearing up that urgent matter for Tel Aviv, Fox News, and Angela Merkel.


Please note, finally, that in the above-cited speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars this past Monday, McCain again referenced Sir Winston Churchill, implicitly linking the current quagmire in Iraq and the Middle East to World War II: “...we are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success.... ‘Never despair,’ Winston Churchill once said. And we did not despair. We were tested, and we rose to the challenge. Some political leaders close their eyes to the progress that ‘the surge’ has made possible, and want only to argue about the past.”

More unvarnished blarney. I can certainly understand why John McCain, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Jr., and their supporters, enablers, and paid advisors would not want to address the past or be held accountable for their actions. They want to cover their tracks, and move on. Perfectly understandable. It is so much easier to invoke Churchill, and wave the flag.

In any event, like the present conflict in Iraq, World War II was just another fraudulent, self-destructive war, albeit on a grander scale. Senator McCain and most folks do not see it that way, granted. The current enlightenment says we should worship Churchill and FDR. That question will be taken up in a separate dispatch.

--Copyright 2008 Patrick Foy