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McCain and the Same Old Kneejerk Militarism

By       Message Ron Fullwood     Permalink
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Everything about the candidacy of John McCain is old. The candidate's old; his policies are old; and his divisive politics are a throwback to every republican campaign for the presidency we've endured in the past two decades. Moreover, the candidacy of John McCain is not about moving the country ahead into the future, it's yet another cynical attempt to codify and continue the failures, abuses of power, and rape of our treasury that the Bush term has produced.

Nowhere are McCain's regressive intentions for America more evident than in his fawning defense of Bush's militarism in Iraq and in his indifference to the lessons learned from this administration's reflexive use and support of military force as the solution to every conflict or ambition abroad. Never before in the history of our nation have our government and military institutions been so stifled and neutered in their efforts to halt or stem the growing trend of violent acts of terrorism which has escalated in response to America's heightened presence and initiative outside of our borders.

Yet, this administration, and, now, their protege' McCain, have insisted on pressing forward with their dual, destabilizing occupations and posturing, indefinitely to some 'victory' or 'success, as if we haven't already been witness to the limits of the use of the force of America's military to effect whatever democratic change is promised or expected.

Despite the promises from this administration of political reconciliation in Iraq and assurances that democracy would blossom and flourish if just given some "breathing room" at the expense of the lives of nearly an additional thousand of our nation's defenders, there have only been predictable expressions of sovereignty and impatience from the U.S. enabled Iraqi regime for the day when Washington finally gives them their own set of keys to their new military oligarchy.

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Despite the most animated arguments of the administration and McCain that the "surge" of military force during the summer 'worked,' there has been no concrete benefit from the increased assaults on Iraqi communities and the resulting "surge" of Americans and Iraqis killed in the process -- outside of our military forces' demonstrated ability to conquer Iraqi territory and hold it. And, if there are any credible 'successes' in stemming the resistant and opportunistic violence in Iraq, most of credit must be given to those Iraqis who stepped up to forge their own reconciliation with their fellow citizens and to those Iraqis who walked away from their participation in the violence when directed to by their spiritual and political leaders. That effort by Iraqis, themselves, actually began some four months before the "surge" was announced.

McCain has been anxious and eager to show voters that he's ready and willing to press forward with his own macho, cowboy flexing of American muscle. Earlier in the campaign McCain was taped while gleefully singing, 'bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," even as he promised that his own prescription for the use of military force would require a credible threat to our national security, clear obtainable goals, and the application of overwhelming force, as he advised the administration (and was rebuffed) before their initial invasion of Iraq.

McCain's hawkishness is an attempt to supplant his reservations about the correctness of the Vietnam War -- in which he served and was held captive -- with a popular, but incredible revisionism that, if we just push a little harder and expend and sacrifice more lives and resources, we will prevail.

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There's been a driving obsession from this administration, from Bush, Cheney on down, with re-fighting the Vietnam war in Iraq in order to re-pursue the myth that we could have 'won' the conflict if we had just applied more force and not withdrawn. Bush and McCain still believe that if we stay their bloody course in Iraq -- if we sacrifice even more soldiers on top of the 4100+ he's already allowed to die for his zealotry -- he's convinced there's something worth those tragic deaths that he can 'win' there.

How many times did Nixon try to convince Americans that he could 'win' in Vietnam? Nixon, like Bush and Mccain, tried to deflect responsibility for his own escalation of his war by reminding Americans about Johnson's role as he promised a victorious end to the conflict. He called his own military muckraking, "winning the peace." The parallel is in Bush and McCain's own strategy to remain in Iraq indefinitely and blame failure there on those who refuse to agree to let them run amok with our military forces.

Bush and McCain are telling Americans that they intend to keep our soldiers in Iraq until they can manage to declare some sort of victory in Iraq. They say they're waiting for Iraqis to unify. They say they're waiting for Iraqis to train their military and police. They say they're waiting for Iraqis to stabilize their government.

Bush says that "the only way to lose in Iraq is to leave before the job is done," but, he also says he "will not put more pressure on the Iraqi government than it can bear." All of the burden for their failure in Iraq is, once again, thrown onto the backs of our soldiers who have never been equipped or prepared to transform Iraq into the ridiculously idyllic, democratic center of the 'New Middle East' that Bush and his regime imagine it should become, just by virtue of their sacrifices.

Nixon's lofty justifications for his continued involvement in Vietnam collapsed under the reality of a perpetual war that was being fueled by our very presence in Vietnam which only served to harden resistance to the U.S. and any forces allied with us. At the end of decades of war, and thousands of American lives sacrificed, North Vietnamese forces took Saigon in 1975. Communist forces occupied the South, renaming Saigon Ho Chi Minh City. It's not hard to imagine Baghdad, in the future, under the control of the very forces our troops are battling today, much like the 'rebel' leader Sadr was once able to ingratiate himself into the new Iraqi government and the manner in which Bush's nemesis in Iran, has been able to ingratiate himself with the Iraqi regime.

McCain should be forced to tell Americans that he expects further sacrifices of life, limb, and American treasure to support the military aggression that his own special brand of bluster and swagger promises. The scramble by McCain in the wake of Russia's invasion of the Republic of Georgia to rattle and brandish sabers he does not yet possess or control devolved this week into a mimic of the Cold War as the Arizona senator revealed to the world that he intends to wield an even heavier, more dense hand than the warmonger-in-chief has brandished through this crisis.

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Not only does a McCain presidency threaten to re-usher in a destabilizing chill with a Russian regime already on the defensive from Bush's own scolding and maneuvering, a McCain presidency promises to manage disagreements or crisis with an initial threat of the exercise of our destructive forces. The rest of McCain's strategy promises to isolate Russia again and encourage other nations to adopt the same regressive, adversarial approach which kept our two nations at dangerous odds for decades. Further demonstrating the ineptness of his judgment, the McCain says that he expects the UN Security Council (in which Russia has a veto) to act to join him in his strident condemnations of the former Soviet state.

In an amazing example of McCain's knee jerk militarism, the Arizona senator had once proposed the creation of a creation of a "league of democracies" that would militarily meddle in world affairs where the UN refused to tread. "We should form a league of democracies that can act with great influence and power, both economically and militarily," McCain had said. Even his diplomatic impulses are couched in his kneejerk militarism.

It will not serve those American interests of national security, the promotion of democracy abroad, or cooperation in any global effort to stem the tide of terrorist acts for McCain to re-adopt the old imperialistic isolationism of the past. What McCain is asking of Americans is for us to reject the decades of progress which has been made in reforming relations between the 'Cold Warriors' of the past and resign ourselves to the notion that our nation can do little except to try and dominate and intimidate the world by flailing our soldiers and weaponry around the globe.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price

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