That's the question Jim Webb asked republican John McCain during debate on the Virginia Democrat's amendment to the Defense spending bill which would have tempered Bush's escalated, extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan by requiring as much time be made available for a service member to spend at home with his family and career as time spent on the battlefield.
The amendment, which was eventually blocked from a vote in the Senate by republicans, was the former republican's best attempt to reach out to the president's party and bring some sanity and responsibility to the unprecedented, unending, repeated deployments to their manufactured battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"If you’re a member of the regular military, this amendment basically says that as long as you have been gone, you deserve to have that much time at home," Sen. Webb told the Senate. "This is a one-to-one ratio that we’re trying to push. Many of our units and our individuals are below that when the Department of Defense’s stated goal and restated goal of the Commandant of the Marine Corps not long ago was to move back to 2-1. In other words, our troops right now are being deployed in environments, many of them, where they are spending more time in Iraq than they’re spending at home, when traditionally, they should have twice as much time here in their home environments to refurbish their units, retrain, get to know their families and then continue to serve their country. For the Guard and Reserve, we have a provision in here that would require that no member or unit be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan within three years of a previous deployment."
"We are succeeding and we are winning," McCain said in his closing remarks before he joined with his party in killing the effort, destroying hope of any imminent reprieve for our nation's defenders deployed abroad. "With this amendment, we will choose to lose," McCain told the Senate. "This is a formula for defeat, not for victory,"
Aside from addressing the obvious question of what McCain thinks we're 'winning' with Bush's increased occupation of Iraq, the republican senator and his party are putting their own ambitions in Iraq ahead of the demonstrated will of the majority of legislators in Congress and that of the American people. More importantly, republican presidential candidate McCain and his partners in the filibuster of the Webb amendment revealed just how little they regard the welfare of the troops they claim to support in their pressing forward in Iraq.
"I think we should ask the question:" McCain said, "will an unintended consequence of this amendment be to cause harm to our troops?"
“I argued last July, as did various other senators, that the amendment would cause harm – to the mission, the units and members who would have to succeed in combat despite the obstacles this amendment would impose."
Aside from addressing the obvious fact that ending the occupation and removing the troops from their dubious Iraq battleground would be the most effective way to "support the troops" in Iraq (as McCain and his fellow republicans claim is their intention), the Arizona senator and the rest of the Bush enablers who blocked the Webb amendment put their predictably political stamp on their opposition to the reciprocal leave mandated in the bill. With that cynical act, they assumed complete complicity with the WH/Pentagon in the hijacking of our democracy and in holding our troops hostage in Iraq to whatever corporate-driven nation-building impossibility they can conjure as they obstruct every effort to reign them in.
All measures of reason and candor have been abandoned by the republican party in favor of a withering defense of the effects and consequences of their own misguided militarism over the term of their domination of every branch of national government. Now in the minority -- as a result of their refusal to reconcile the lies they told along with the administration, with the deadly results of the construction of their Potemkin democracy in Iraq -- republicans have resorted to encouraging us to join them in feigning amnesia about the almost five years and 3800 American troop deaths and to set up another round of vainglorious militarism to cover for their failure to capture their leading suspects in the 9-11 attacks; and to distract from their fostering and fueling of even more individuals and groups determined to attack the U.S., our allies, and our interests in retaliation for Bush's swaggering military advance on their homeland.
Instead of accepting responsibility for their failure to intimidate Iraqis with the force of our military into accepting their propped-up Iraqi regime's manufactured authority, republicans are skating on the thin ice of their ability to manipulate their minority rights in Congress to hold our troops in Iraq until they can produce some portrait of 'victory' that they can sell to Americans as a repudiation of the solid bloc of opposition to continuing. Even more cynical is their plan to hold over 130,000 troops in Iraq until they can manage their way through their fight here at home to hold onto whatever is left of the absolute power and influence they'd enjoyed for over a decade in Washington.
So dedicated are the republicans to the preservation of their dwindling reign that they have reduced themselves even further to complain that an effort to help preserve these troops' increasingly precarious lives and livelihoods here at home would jeopardize one or more of their contrived missions which shift and escalate into staged assaults against the Iraqi communities ahead of every point of congressional accountability.
From the U.S. military suppression of Sunni enclaves before, during, and after the staged elections to replace the installed 'interim authority'; to the selective attacks on resistant Iraqis at the behest and advantage and cooperation of the Shiite-dominated Maliki regime; the strategy of Bush's faltering occupation has retreated from their intention to become the new dictatorship to a defensive posture of merely holding the ground that seats their assumed Iraqi government.
There is no national Iraqi movement in favor of Bush's military paternalism to justify his continued sacrifice of our troops in their defense of Baghdad. There is no American movement in favor of the sacrifice of our nation's defenders' squiring of the Maliki regime. Justification for all of the continued American militarism in Iraq resides in the belief and determination of Bush and his republicans that "progress" will be measured in Iraq wherever they press our troops forward.
The American and Iraqi lives lost in the territory gained and occupied by our mislead forces will be vain additions to whatever political litany and rhetoric develops to buttress ambitions in the upcoming presidential campaign. For politicians like Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq and his enablers here at home like John McCain, our troops are expendable in the time it takes to resolve their nation's politics. The sacrifice of these soldiers' lives are absolutely essential to effect the perpetuation of the republican administration's protection scheme in Iraq where the deliberate escalation of violence by our overwhelming forces creates instability and chaos which can then be highlighted in some campaign as a 'threat' to remain and defend against.
Presidential candidate John McCain and his fellow republicans are desperate that our troops remain in Iraq to avoid the certain verdict of failure which has characterized the entirety of the Iraq diversion. For five years Americans have been promised a 'victory' of a 'success' in Iraq which our soldiers are supposed to secure with their exclusive, ultimate sacrifices contrasted against the rest of Americans' looking on. They just can't abide a line being drawn between the lives and livelihoods of these volunteers in the military and the ambitions of the politicians in Washington and Foggy Bottom.
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