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?