Tag Archive 'Iraq war'

Frank Miller’s Geostrategic Theory

Frank Lovece sat down with Frank Miller for Newsday to discuss his upcoming film The Spirit. Toward the end of it Lovece asked Miller about remarks he’d made in 2007 in support of the Iraq War, and offered him an opportunity to clarify/retract. Miller was unapologetic:

Miller: When the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor, we didn’t just declare war on Japan, we declared war on Germany. It was an international fascist effort. And so when I said that the attack on Iraq made sense, it was the same way we had to attack not just Afghanistan. Instead we had to attack the center of Islamofascism.


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The Left, McCain And The War


The inestimable Oliver Kamm provides a glimpse at the value our British friends find in a potential John McCain presidency:

Two points about McCain stand out. He’s not a conservative and he’s been right all along about Iraq. These are the reasons I favoured him from the outset for the Republican nomination. Indeed McCain has been more right than anyone on Iraq. He’s stuck to that position despite his conviction, (expressed in Seattle just over a year ago) that, like Tony Blair, he might have sacrificed his political career for Iraq. In The Sunday Times today, Sarah Baxter reports a gracious remark of McCain that “I do miss Tony Blair”.

Oliver quotes this exchange as being particularly noteworthy (my emphasis):

[INTERVIEWER]: In all of the polls, the majority of the American people say it’s time to begin withdrawing the troops. The House is on record saying it’s time to begin withdrawing. The Senate now on the record. You say more troops are the answer. Why?

MCCAIN: Well, I think the surge is a new strategy. It’s not just more troops. It’s a new strategy. The second thing is, polls are interesting. If you ask the American people, “If we can show you a path to success, a way that you can have a government that’s functioning and the military situation under control,” of course they’ll support it. They’re frustrated, and understandably, by the lack of progress in Iraq. And that’s because of the terrible mismanagement of this war that went on for nearly four years.

In addition to opining that McCain should opt for Sen. Joe Lieberman as his running mate over Mike Huckabee, Oliver concludes:

When I had a rather less elevated exchange last week with Tony Benn, he kept on about the anti-war views of the British people. But the British electorate, like the American electorate, is not opposed to war: it’s opposed to defeat.

Even as I agree that both the Brits and Americans would be more supportive of the war if a clear path to “victory” were established, I have to wonder if the Brits’ would be as enamored of McCain if he was more of a true conservative. McCain’s more Continental views with respect to social issues and the government’s role in them, and his unwavering stance on the proper manner for prosecuting the war in Iraq, combine to present to the Brits a politician they apparently feel comfortable with. However, if McCain did hold more conservative positions on topics such as immigration, global warming, and stem cell research, would the Brits be as sanguine about his prescription for Iraq? Somehow I doubt it.

Indeed, the comments at Oliver’s place suggest as much:

I have to disagree with you, Oliver, when you say that McCain is “not a conservative.” He’s definitely a conservative, just not a bigot (usually the two are interchangeable in American politics); McCain is to the right on every issue you cite: immigration, environment, science (he recently promoted the teaching of creation alongside evolution in Arizona schools), and same-sex rights. He also leans to the right on taxation, direct corporate intervention in legislation, and the place of religion in public life. Moreover on each of these issues McCain has compromised or entirely sold out his “maverick” positions in order to attain the nomination, and it is unlikely that once in office he would be able to renege on the promises he has made to far-right groups during the campaign, and definitely not if he wanted to seek a second term. Certainly he is not a far-right figure, but considering that even the Democrats are closer to the British Conservative party than to Labor, that makes McCain rather further right than you suggest. McCain may well be correct (or more correct) than Clinton or Obama on Iraq, but he would be a disaster for America’s domestic politics, which might well be more important in the long term for the fight against terrorism and al-Qaeda.

In other words, McCain’s domestic policy positions are much more important than his stance on Iraq. Brits who find him less than stellar in that regard, aren’t going to be very persuaded that (a) the war in Iraq is susceptible to any positive outcome, or (b) that John McCain has the proper policy for it, or (c) that his Iraq war policy is at all beneficial. And I think that holds true on this side of the pond as well. Many on the American left would agree, I think, that however left of the GOP base McCain may be, he’s still the wrong choice on domestic issues. There is almost no position he can take on such issues that will change their mind on the war.

To be sure, Roland Dodds (also found in the comments) argued back in January that the left should support McCain precisely because he stuck to his guns on the “surge”:

I have made it clear on this blog and in conversations with friends and family that my vote will go to the candidate that supports the fight for democracy in Iraq, and will not abandon the Kurds to be slaughtered yet again. I can forgive some of McCain’s decisions throughout his career and the way he has pandered to religious conservatives in recent months, and I can effortlessly when I consider what democracy promotion will look like if someone like Obama or Edwards is elected.

The War on Terror and the fight for liberal democracy may be nothing more than a bumper sticker slogan to some on the left, but it means something to me. If we surrender freedom to the forces of theocracy and totalitarianism overseas, we do not deserve to call ourselves democrats at home. If our concept of democracy ends at our borders, like Ron Paul supporters would have us believe, then we have sacrificed our comrades overseas for juvenile self assuredness and sciolism.

Both Oliver and Roland make a case for the left to get behind McCain’s campaign based his plan for victory in Iraq, which they see as the correct one. However, the presumption that victory is important to the left is misplaced. Achieving a stable democratic regime in the heart of the Middle East is never going to be acceptable to a good deal of the left who, even if they begrudgingly granted that such an accomplishment would count as a “victory”, tend to consider it to be little more than encouragement for future foreign excursions. Even more troubling for them is the fact that America will have avoided its much deserved comeuppance for its domineering ways. A victory in Iraq translates in to ever more unchecked American imperialism, which the left simply cannot abide.

In my humble opinion, until voices akin to those of Roland and Oliver (and Hitchens) find more purchase amongst the left, anybody and anything that trips up America will be applauded, and any person who speaks up against America will be feted as a hero. John McCain, therefore, may stand out to some on the left as one who can fulfill the role of spreading democracy (and through democracy, peace), and thus as someone whom they can get behind. But I would not expect the left as a whole (or even a large part) to embrace the Senator for these views, regardless of how liberal he may be on social issues. At least not until a majority of them can also embrace American virtues such as free enterprise, self-determination and individualism, which virtues are antithetical to governance for the “common good.” For so long as the needs of government are placed above the needs of the governed, victory for America in foreign lands will be viewed through the prism of the “common good.”

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The Left and John McCain

McCainIn a post at QandO, Billy Hollis explains why John McCain will not be getting his vote. Essentially, McCain-Feingold and Johnny’s continued contempt for the Bill of Rights leaves Billy cold:

This [McCain-Feingold] is THE main reason I cannot vote for the man. Heck, I almost shied away from Fred merely because he voted for it. McCain was the ringleader, the prime mover, the guy without whom it would not have happened.

The fact that McCain feels justified in subverting the Bill of Rights to arbitrarily decide what citizens may say and do makes him unqualified to be the president of these United States.

I pretty much agree entirely with Billy (and Peg) on this. I have great deal of respect for the Arizona Senator, but he truly seems to believe that government knows what’s best for everybody, and he isn’t afraid to use the levers of power to override Constitutional rights.

However, there was something in the comments that just begged for further analysis. Frequent QandO commenter jpm100 cogently observes:

McCain, Iraq, and the Left’s Hypocrisy

For the past 5 years, the lion’s share of the attacks on Bush and Republicans have revolved around Iraq. They include Abu Garib, no WMDs, lying about WMDs, lying about terrorism ties, Haliburton, Escalation, ad infinitum.

But here we have McCain, who’s one Republican Selling point is his support for the Iraq War. Not just a Supporter, but the Queen Bee of Senate Support for Iraq. Yet the Left relishes his rise as the Republican nominee.

I’ve have to believe this is only because of one or both of two possible reasons.

1) Opposition against the Iraq War was purely politically motivated, a tool to smear Bush with. With US Troops deaths as the anchor, they could attack Bush and recreate the Vietnam era for the Kerry campaign for one. And just generally deride Bush and Republicans.

Yet does any of this negativity get raised by the left when the Queen Bee of Iraq War Support is in line for the Presidency? You’d think they’d go nuts. Instead they support him. Its not even brought up directly. Opposition to Iraq has all been a fraud that was easily jettisoned.


2) McCain is a such a liberal boner, they can overlook his support for Iraq. This wasn’t the case for Lieberman who they literally kicked out of the Democrat Party. Iraq was all important then.

Liberal’s support for McCain has betrayed their opposition to the Iraq War as a political tool and they otherwise couldn’t give a crap.

I’d say jpm100 sets up the tension perfectly. For all the caterwauling about the Iraq war, it really doesn’t make any sense that the left would even grudgingly show respect for the Republican candidate with the strongest position on the war. Joe Lieberman has received no such respect, and Hillary Clinton is persistently dogged by those who want her to repent openly and with as much self deprecation as possible about her vote for the war. So why would the left give John McCain a pass?

Frankly, I don’t think that jpm100’s suggestions are mutually exclusive so I’ll opt for the “and” in his (her?) statement. The Iraq War is/was a convenient club to bash Bush, and McCain’s affinity for Democrat programs prompts the left to leave him pretty well alone. Added to that, McCain’s penchant for bucking his own party probably softens the left’s stance toward him. However, I thik there is more to the story than that.

I am certain that there are many on the left who simply oppose war for any reason. These would be the folks who were not only against the war in Iraq, but also the war in Afghanistan, the war in the Balkans, and the first Gulf War. A significant portion of this contingent is likely made up of Code Pink types who oppose any and all actions of the United States, which they see as a crony-capitalist state enforcing the will of big corporations at the expense of the working classes. For them, war at the hands of a capitalist regime is the epitome of the rich oppressing the poor, and really no different than medieval Kings sending peasants off to die for them in their never ending quest for more riches.

But there is another segment of the left that, while more sane in matters political and historical, are absolutely resigned to the idea anything coming from the right is surely motivated by bad intentions (their counterparts on the right are just as certain that Bill and Hillary are evil incarnate, and that they had Vince Foster killed). These are the leftists who always vote Democrat and who only seem to oppose wars when its a Republican prosecuting it. For them, the motivations behind going to war are much more important than the war itself. Since they can’t trust Republicans to have the “correct” intentions, they immediately suspect and dismiss any stated reasons for war, and assume some nefarious and/or selfish reasons instead. Out-of-context statements and extemporaneous missteps by Republicans are seized upon in gotcha frenzies as evidence of the malintentions they all knew were present, yet hidden.

So, maybe the reason that McCain gets such a pass is because, despite his steadfast support for the war, his intentions are not as immediately suspect. Perhaps because of his willingness to buck the party line, and his support for issues important to Democrats, his status as the “Queen Bee of Senate Support for Iraq” can not only be forgiven, but overlooked entirely. Accordingly, because he is trusted by Democrats, the usual tropes that make up anti-war cant are not very useful against him. Similarly, since his belief in using government to organize and regulate people’s lives meshes nicely with Democrat views, he is treated as de facto Democrat.

And therein lies the problem for him among small-government conservatives and libertarians. If that part of the statist left who actually wields power is comfortable with him, then it will be left up to the Republicans in Congress to oppose him. Judging from how they dealt with Bush on matters of government spending and expansion, it’s hard to see how there will be any effective opposition at all. In short, with McCain occupying the White House, there won’t be any adults in charge and you can kiss any attempts to restrain the federal government good-bye.

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