Friday, June 13, 2008

POLITICS- McCain's 100 Year Occupation

I haven’t been writing about politics lately because (like most of the country) I’ve gotten so tired of the permanent presidential campaign show that it’s all I can do to keep up with who lost the last staff member due to revelations about their past. But now that Barrack has finally dropped a house on Hillary once and for all, things are already starting to return to normal. And by normal I mean Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.

On the war front, the initial volleys have picked off a few individual soldiers (a financial adviser here, a vice-presidential committee member there) doing no real damage to either force. Initial peace offerings have been made but it’s still to early in the conflict for them to be taken seriously. The nuclear option has already been discussed by the Republicans, but they always do that (well, the fucking penis envy Neocons, at least). Forward divisions have launched mostly ineffective ordinance in the hopes something will do some damage out of pure luck. Positions are being fortified and countermeasures are being undertaken. It’s going to be a long war.

But enough with tortured metaphors. There are a couple of interesting platform planks that the candidates have discussed in the last week or so.

Going from the metaphorical war of the campaign to the actual war where brave American men and women are dying, still. First is the idea of John McCain’s 100 years in Iraq. The quote has been played almost as much as the Reverend White tape. McCain says that it’s taken out of context and honest Dems have mostly agreed. But what McCain actually seems to mean, in that and subsequent statements this week (which he is also claiming were taken out of context), is that while he doesn’t want a 100 year WAR in Iraq, he is perfectly happy to establish a 100 year occupation. You know, like the relationship we have with so much of Europe and Japan- we’ll house troops in your country indefinitely. This idea is further supported by the fact that the President is trying to get the Iraqi leaders to sign off on a treaty that places over FIFTY US MILITARY BASES in the country. Now I could go into how this is exactly the kind of thing that prompted 9/11 in the first place (American troops in Saudi Arabia) but I don’t think that’s exactly true (I think the “they hate us for our freedom to have women get boob jobs and dress like tramps on the street” meme has some tread). Or I could go into how we really need to be getting our troops out of Europe and Japan instead of looking for new countries to spend billions of military dollars on every year. Or I could discuss the limited strategic value of having a staging area in the Middle East (in addition to the ones we have in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Israel). Or I could mention that this Middle East Domino Theory the Bush administration seems to be pursuing is a more ridiculous idea than the Maginot Line (still fighting the last war, but ignoring any lessons from that to try to fight the last war we won).

And I’m somewhat torn that we don’t owe the Iraqis as much long term stability as we can afford. Since we went and broke their country and all.

But the real reason is that what we promised the Iraqis was democracy, and I don’t think they are going to have it until we leave. As long as there are thousands of troops on the ground, we are going to be outsiders supporting a particular regime. And that kind of meddling in the Middle East was the real spark plug for 9/11. I understand that to the administration this looks like Saddam II: Democracy Boogaloo, the new and improved way to establish a US friendly regime while avoiding the old “our pocket dictator went rogue on us and now we’ve got to take him out” eventuality. The whole time wrapping it up in a “but they are a democratic country” teflon package. But it isn’t going to work. I’ve said from day one that the biggest mistake of this war wasn’t that Iraq was a threat or that democracy was good, it was the idea that an Arab country was going to be Pro-American and Pro-Israel just because we toppled a dictator that we had been supporting for years. The whole thing misses the point that democracy in other countries has been a two edged sword for American foreign policy over the last 60 years (we prefer friendly autocrats).We just need to get out of the nation building mindset. We need to bring our troops home and let the Iraqis decide what they are going to do with their country. If we really want to give them freedom.

But was that ever really the motivation?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

PERSONAL- A Return to the Blog

Sorry for the long absence. My internet connection has been (hopefully not “still is”) out of commission and anyway, I’ve been reading, working extra, and enjoying the summer.

On the reading front: I had been on a non-fiction kick most of the winter and spring. Brushing up on chemistry, physics, history, and some biology. This was a pendulum swing from a early winter graphic novel binge. Having indulged my strange affectation for science I was ready for something lighter and at just about that time I happened upon the SMART POP books published by BenBella press. This is a series that dedicates a book to a particular pop icon and collects a dozen or two essays exploring various aspects of that pop icon. Topics include Superman, Batman, Farscape, Star Trek, Star Wars, Alias (the TV show), House (ditto), etc. This is a kind of geek heaven. Smart people writing seriously about not very serious subjects. It's why I read the COMICS JOURNAL during the '70s and '80s. I have a soft spot for serious literary criticism devoted to not-so-serious literature. So far I’ve read a half dozen in the last couple weeks and branched out into similar books such as Danny Fingeroth’s SUPERMAN ON THE COUCH and the excellent SUPERMAN VS. HOLLYWOOD by Jake Rossen (neither published by BenBella). I have some things to say about the books and whether you should read them.

On the working front: I haven’t got much to say about that. The interesting thing about my job is that it forces me to keep up with what’s happening in medical science. OTOH, the day to day performance of my job is full of human drama and occasional insights into the human condition but that’s not what this blog is about.

Well, perhaps some stories later.

On the enjoying the summer front: I took a trip out of town last weekend and it was as good a holiday trip as I have ever taken. I plan to break the rule of blogging about personal stuff so I’m going to leave that for a later entry. It will include science, sex, cars, and good food. What more is there than that?

I’ve also seen a few more movies, watched some GREAT television (yes, that’s right, great television. Not an oxymoron just something as rare as a blue moon), listened to some new music, bought a new car, built a new garage, and done some other stuff that defies description. Sorry to have been gone but one of the ironies (God is far to fond of irony) of life is that the more time you spend living it, the less time you have to write about it.

(Have you seen Valerie Bertinelli on the new Jenny Craig commercials? For a woman on the leeward side of forty she looks GREAT!)

But now on to smart people writing about silly subjects.