John McCain owns the Republican Party – at least for the next two months. He owns the Republican National Convention. He owns the message being presented by every speaker and every video. The stubbornness of John McCain is evident in the message presented. McCain’s life bookends are all about War. His adult life is framed by his participating in the Vietnam War in his youth and his championing of Iraq in his old age.
John McCain is so proud of War he has dictated that everyone highlight his War efforts in every speech. McCain served his country with great honor and distinction as a POW in Vietnam. His support of killing American soldiers in Iraq is less honorable – it is about his pride- his personal pride – John McCain hates to be wrong.
The “surge” in George Bush’s ill-conceived Iraq War finds success or failure in definition. What is success? Americans armed with the latest technology in warfare were being slaughtered by makeshift bombs, improvised explosive devices wrangled from other munitions. The newly elected Iraqi politicians struggled to organize and produce a functioning, self-reliant, self-defending government. General David Patreaus had an idea – This writer is an admirer of General Patreaus – The General said we needed to redefine the mission, add 30-40 thousand more troops, stabilize the cities, and bring humanitarian aid to the people. With these goals accomplished the politicians would be able to complete the strategies of organizing their government.
This writer believes the War was ill-conceived – but like many other Americans we feel that once engaged an honorable solution should be found. We agreed that General Patreaus’ ideas had merit. Here’s the hitch. No one in our George Bush led government would give us any time frame for success. We know all the hyperbole about giving the enemy secret information – the argument was that with time frames the enemy would simply wait us out. There is not one single American CEO of any Corporation who would commit his company to a project with no measurements of success. So measurement were given. There were 19 objectives the Iraq politicians were to achieve in a given time frame – the American people would sacrifice their troops and their money in the process. The American Troops, led by General Patreaus, did their job with dignity and honor – and success. The troops managed to alleviate the violence. But the Iraqi politicians failed to do their job – they have not accomplished half of their objectives – and there is no promise of more unity in the future.
So was the surge a success? If defined only in military terms the surge was a resounding success. But the terms of success included successful government organizing by the politicians. It occurs to this writer they would have been more successful if they had hired a community organizer from the south side of Chicago – those folks know how to get things done. The end result is a military success and a government failure – the surge did not accomplish the total objective – and that fault lies with the Iraqi politicians – not with the American Troops or with General Patreaus.
John McCain confuses military success with political success. McCain is steeped in a strong sense of military as the means to any end. Think about this – the military exists for one ultimate purpose. We can be polite and say things like ‘defense of country’ or ‘national security’ – but the safety of our country comes in the form of economics, adherence to the Constitution of the United States, the following of law, the checks and balances of power in Washington, and military intervention as a last resort.
Military intervention – in plain terms – is the use of violence. Violence should be a last resort – and when used should be forceful and purposeful. This country has lost over four thousand of our greatest citizens – the soldiers who fight for us – and Osama Bin Laden has not been capture or killed. The people who attacked us on September 11, 2001, remain free.
The Iraq War lost the sense of purpose – and John McCain can not accept that the purpose of our assault on the middle east was lost – replaced by the petty vengeance of George W. Bush.
When we send our troops into harm’s way we should provide them with every possible means of support. And we should never send our troops into harm’s way with out just cause.
Listen to the rhetoric coming out of the Republican National Convention – the rhetoric is not about praising our troops – it is about praising War as the only means to an end. If John McCain becomes President we will see more violence, more tough guy rhetoric. There is a big difference in doing things right and doing the right things.
We will have entered the age of American Militarism. The age of the American bully.
See also: John McCain and T. R. Roosevelt