by Jeff Huber
Part I describes how John McCain became indebted to the neoconservative cabal when he gained their support by endorsing the Iraq surge stratagem. Part II examines McCain's taste in bedfellows.
The thing I dread most about a John McCain presidency is that he gets that phone call at three in the morning and actually wakes up to answer it. McCain best illustrated the sound judgment he claims to have when he voted to invade Iraq, followed by his echoing Dick Cheney's line that "the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” Then there's his choice of running mates.
I've heard the excuse that, well, Sarah Palin wasn't McCain's pick of prospective veeps, that his advisors pushed her on him. If that's true, it only goes to show how bad McCain's judgment in choosing advisers is and his utter inability to judge when he's getting bad advice. In the foreign policy realm, McCain has shown the same misplaced trust in the same woebegone wonks that young Mr. Bush listened to.
Bill Kristol, editor of the right wing Weekly Standard, son of the "godfather of neoconservatism" Irving Kristol, founder of the infamous Project for the New American Century, signer of the 1997 letter urging Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, co-author of the September 2000 neocon manifesto Rebuilding America's Defenses that said the U.S. military should conquer and occupy the entire planet but that only "a new Pearl Harbor" would convince the American public to go along with anything that crazy, who has said that America should join Israel in a war against Islam, and who has persistently tried to goad young Mr. Bush into bombing the camel snot out of Iran, and who was a leading proponent of the Iraq surge stratagem, that Bill Kristol is one of John McCain's key foreign policy advisers.
In an October 13 editorial, Kristol allowed as how the McCain campaign "is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional," but lauded McCain's "sound judgment and strong leadership." What Kristol likes about McCain's judgment and leadership is his sound decision to let Kristol lead him around by the nose.
As 2007 dawned, McCain was down in the poles and his campaign organization was going through its second or third out-and-out dysfunction. When he threw out a lifeline, the Kristol Gang was happy to haul him aboard. On January 5 of that year, when Kristol henchmen Fred Kagan and Jack Keane rolled out their surge strategy at the American Enterprise Institute headquarters, John McCain was there to endorse it, as was his frequent dinner companion Joe Lieberman. Lindsay Graham, McCain's other paramour, didn't attend. I'm sure he had a superb excuse.
From that point on, McCain was a made guy in the neocon mafia. Robert Kagan, Kristol's Weekly Standard collaborator, co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and brother of Fred Kagan, is credited with having crafted McCain's foreign policy platform. Bob Kagan is a proponent of a looming second confrontation between western democracies and their old nemeses, Russia and China. Not surprisingly, the Bush administration's policies, particularly its insistence on shunning diplomatic approaches to Iran, have put the world on a direct vector for Cold War II. It took America about half a century to win the first Cold War; the neocons hope start the next one in less than half that time.
McCain's foreign policy team also includes Dick Armitage, Max Boot, Ralph Peters, Gary Schmitt and James Woolsey, all neocon luminaries who lobbied for the invasion of Iraq.
McCain's national security platform, available at his campaign web site, is a Readers Digest condensation of Rebuilding America's Defenses. McCain champions a missile defense program, a larger military, and the fielding of more esoteric and costly weapon systems. McCain insists on pursuing something he calls "victory" in Iraq, yet he proposes an end game that looks like the occupation that followed the Korean War, which was hardly a stunning American victory. (It was, at best, a tie. In fact, the Korean War has never been formally ended.) McCain will protect Israel from Iran, but he will not talk to Iran about Israel or anything else. As to nuclear proliferation, well, he'll fix that just like he'll fix the economy and social security and Osama bin Laden's rear end if you just give him a chance. I don't know how he's going to fix anything, but he knows. At least he says he does. Take his word for it at your peril.
Sport the Troops
"John McCain has worked tirelessly to protect increased benefits for America's veterans," his web site boasts. McCain's campaign also avows that, "America must never leave its military retirees in any doubt that it will keep its commitments to them for their many years of faithful service" and that "John McCain has fought for improved military pay and benefits, and an improved quality of life for military families."
One has to wonder how the McCain campaign squares those statements with how veterans' groups rate of their candidate on veteran and active duty personnel related issues.
The Disabled American Veterans gave McCain a veterans issue support rating of 20 on a scale of zero to 100 (Barack Obama received a grade of 80). Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) recently gave McCain a veterans support grade of "D" (they gave Obama a "B").
In response to IAVA's congressional report card, Vets for Freedom (VFF), a neoconservative front group, released its own Senate analysis scorecard. The VFF gave every Democrat in the Senate a grade of "F." 38 Republicans earned an A+. McCain received an A-. One supposes VFF was trying not to look like it was too much in the tank for McCain, but they aren't likely to fool anyone except, well, fools. It's symptomatic of the McCain camp and of the neoconservative worldview that they would so persistently strive to create a perception that is in such diametric contrast with reality.
McCain has shown his "support" by voting against funds for additional body armor and PTSD screening and treatment, by voting against funding for veterans benefits and health care, by voting to underfund the Department of Veterans Affairs, by opposing Jim Webb's 21st Century GI bill that would give better education benefits to veterans… the list of McCain's votes against the troops and veterans extends beyond the horizon.
It's remarkable how willing the American warmongery is willing to steer the country into wars that amount to little more than manhood measuring contests, as long as it's someone else's manhood that's on the line. Warmongers who have seen combat are the worst of the lot. Their rationale seems to be that if they had to fight a stupid war for their country, so does everyone else.
Next: Johnny Warbucks
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Scott Horton's interview with Jeff at Antiwar Radio.