Andrew Sullivan explains why a President McCain will keep us in Iraq forever:
Since the failure of nerve by the opposition last summer, the US has effectively decided to occupy Iraq for the rest of our lives. We had a choice: ten months or ten years, and by default we picked the latter - and, according to McCain, it's more like a hundred years. This is very hard to undo, given the quicksand of a Muslim country that requires you either get out quickly or settle in for a looong occupation. Whether the Iraq that emerges is a meaningful state, or whether it is an effectively dismembered hodge-podge of regions held together by US troops and local forces, becomes less relevant once you accept Bush's premise that the US has absorbed the area as a client state for the indefinite future. He has had five years to entrench this into the global order and American politics and, simply by not budging, he has changed the facts on the ground. Iraq, I suspect, is now America's for ever - something Iraqis will always resent but never be able to reverse.
Given that McCain appears to be headed for the Republican Party presidential nomination we should all be paying much more attention to what he is saying about Iraq. On the campaign trail lately he is fond of saying that he opposed the Rumsfeld strategy all along but supported the Petraeus strategy. Everyone should understand that McCain's criticisms of the war mainly come from his long-held belief that we should have many more troops in Iraq than President Bush decided to commit.
McCain emphasizes his criticism of the way Rumsfeld managed the war so he can appear to be something of a quasi-opponent of the war without actually opposing it. In that way, he may be succeeding in tapping into the resentment of independent voters who strongly disapprove of how the Iraq occupation has been handled.
In contrast to the preferences of most Americans, McCain has always advocated a much larger presence in Iraq, and, by his own words, would like to keep US troops there for at least 100 years. So if you liked having 3,900 of our heroes sacrificed for this mindless nationbuilding adventure you should love John McCain. At the current death rate, another 95 years would give us 80,000 more names for an Iraq War memorial.
But of course, he and George Bush and all the other fools who got us into this miserable debacle will be long dead by then. Their legacy will be the tens of thousands of dead and hundreds of thousands of wounded and maimed heroes who were all needlessly sacrificed because men like Bush and McCain didn't have the courage to admit this was a mistake and pull them out.
And now we are subject to McCain's endless rants about how the "surge" has worked when everyone said it wouldn't. He fails to explain how 30,000 extra troops suddenly made it possible for the CIA to distribute briefcases stuffed with cash to pay off the Sunnis tribes so they would stop attacking our troops. He doesn't explain how 30,000 extra troops suddenly convinced the Sunnis to join us against the brutal and repressive al Qaeda jihadists in their midst when they had offered to do so (and were rejected) 3 years earlier. He can't make the connection between the 30,000 extra troops and Moqtada al-Sadr's ceasefire declaration.
No, instead we are just supposed to accept on faith that McCain was a genius and that the 30,000 extra troops fixed the whole mess in Iraq. Never mind that this was a war that never had to be fought and was only waged because clueless politicians like McCain went along with Bush's land grab in the Middle East. Never mind that the war with the Sunnis never had to be fought either and could have easily been avoided had the occupation authorities had the slightest idea what they were doing. Never mind that we have no easy way out of this endless quagmire and that we have to be intimately involved with every power struggle and conflict that will plague the failed nation state of Iraq for the next 100 years. Never mind all that. NOW, we're supposed to believe you're a genius John McCain.
Senator McCain, not only are you not a genius you stand in clear defiance of the will of the American people who by a large majority want to get out of Iraq. When was the debate in Congress over whether we should stay in Iraq for another 100 years? Where do the American people have a say in this? Who gave you the right to decide to throw away the lives of generations of young Americans on your foolish idea of making Iraq the 51st state?
Andrew Sullivan sums up the mess we are in:
Welcome to Empire: an endless, grueling slog in treacherous places where no one loves us, but which we cannot leave. Fewer casualties perhaps (and that, of course, is a wonderful thing); but more debt, more money, more treasure, more risk, more Muslim resentment and more blowback in the end. But marginally cheaper oil in the long run, perhaps. Lovely, isn't it?
Defeat McCain in 2008.
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