Wednesday, February 27, 2008

McCain on Iraq: Straight Talk, No Chaser

The stall tactic we know as the "surge strategy" has a clear and definable objective. No, it's not to create sufficient security in Iraq for political reconciliation to take place. It's to keep the war's critics at bay until the neoconservatives can slip John McCain into the White House.

Double Talk

On Monday, February 25, while rolling through the highways of Ohio on the Straight Talk Express, McCain told reporters that if he can't convince Americans that the troop escalation in Iraq is working, then, "I lose."

Six seconds later he retracted the statement, saying, "I don't mean that I'll, quote, lose. I mean that it's an important issue in the judgment of the American voters."

Heh. Will he "mean" it when he tells his Secretary of Defense to "Blow the living bejesus out of every one of those sand farmers" or will he just be having a bout of the "grumpies?"

Right after that, McCain said, "It's not often I retract a comment." Great Caesars ghost! The guy's the Barry Bonds of flip-flopping. If he really doesn't think he goes back on what he says very often, what else can't he remember?

Pillow Talk

McCain bet his political farm on the surge and stood fast aboard the Good Ship Bush while the rest of the GOP hopefuls scampered down the ratlines. So far, the gamble has paid off, not because it got him Mr. Bush's backing, but because it bought him the aegis of the neoconservative movement and its Borg-like array of think tank strategy and propaganda wizards.

At this point, McCain's nose is planted so far up the neoconservative agenda it's a wonder he can get enough oxygen to sustain life. His foreign policy advisers include Richard Armitage, Max Boot, Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, Ralph Peters, Gary Schmitt and R. James Woolsey. Rounding out this august group of warmongers is Henry Kissinger, who knows more than anyone else alive about how to keep America entangled in a self-defeating war in a third world country. If McCain really wants to keep us in Iraq for a century, Kissinger can tell him how to do it.

It's easy to see why the neocons were eager to embrace McCain as a bedfellow. Like Bush, he is malleable, willing to adopt to any policy that kinda/sorta sounds like it conforms to his value set (and as evidenced by McCain's track record, his value set is flexible enough to wrap itself around any philosophy that helps him get elected). And like Bush, McCain is quite capable of espousing the tenets of whatever dogma he's loyal to at the moment although, also like Bush, a lot of what he says makes him sound like he's been sitting on a barstool since breakfast.


Referring to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, McCain told reporters, “Now the majority of Americans believe the surge is succeeding.” The poll actually stated that 43 percent of Americans think the troop increase is "making the situation there better."

Does McCain really think "better" is a synonym for "succeeding" or that 43 percent of anything is a majority?

"It's generally quiet," McCain said of his recent visit to Iraq with ideological hug buddy Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. McCain based this assessment on an interesting metric: he said he flew over Baghdad and counted "fifty soccer games going on." Given that McCain thinks 50 is less than 43, it's hard to guess how many soccer games he actually saw, but he probably saw more than just a few. Giving aerial tours of the Baghdad soccer scene has become General David Petraeus's PR stunt of choice. He probably figured out finally that it takes a lot fewer troops and helicopters to secure soccer fields and fly VIPs over them than it takes to lock down an outdoor market so the press can take pictures of big shots like McCain and Graham while they buy hand woven rugs for a buck apiece.

Baghdad probably did sound "generally quiet" to McCain. A volcano in eruption sounds quiet when you're watching it from a turning helicopter.

Kool-Aid, Neat

If you want a poll that reflects reality, you survey people living in the middle of it. Had McCain really wanted to know what people who mattered thought of the surge, he might have taken a look at a BBC/ABC/NHK poll of Iraqis taken in fall 2007, shortly before McCain gushed, "We've succeeded militarily" and his neo-confederate Joe Lieberman giddily declared "We are winning." That poll showed that about 70 percent of Iraqis believed security had deteriorated in areas covered by the surge, and that a shocking 60 percent of Iraqis still thought attacks of U.S. forces were justified.

But that reality didn't interest McCain, whose "straight talk" conforms to the neoconservative notion of "truth."

William Kristol's father Irving Kristol, the "godfather" of American neoconservativism, established a hierarchy of truth. "There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people," he once said in an interview. "There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy."

It is patently obvious the neoconservative spin merchants have been selling us the Gerber Baby Food variety of truth. The question is: which flavor of the truth is John McCain telling himself?

We might ask the same question of Frederick Kagan, neoconservative warfare expert and chief architect of the surge strategy. Earlier in the Iraq war, Kagan noted that tactical victories which do not produce desired political aims are merely "organized but senseless violence," precisely the condition his escalation gambit has produced.

The military success McCain and others boast of is a house of cards, consisting mainly of an operational pause while Petraeus supplies weapons to everyone he didn't arm when, while training Iraqi forces in 2004 and 2005, he handed out 190,000 free Kalishikovs that disappeared themselves, almost certainly into the hands of insurgents. Petraeus himself has warned that, "Security gains are fragile and still reversible."

More importantly, though, claims that Mr. Bush and his echo chamberlains have made lauding political progress in Iraq are, at best, specious.

As the Center for American Progress aptly notes, the oil revenue sharing bill has not even received a first reading in parliament. The de-Baathification law came up for discussion, but was roundly protested by Shiite members of the legislature. The constitutional review has been delayed for another three months (half of a Friedman unit), the fourth time such a review has been deferred. Promised provincial elections have been postponed indefinitely pending agreement on a law defining relationships between the national and provincial governments.

Petraeus says "There is no lights [sic] at the end of the tunnel" and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker says tensions have heightened between Sunnis and Shiites a the national level, and admits that, "nothing good is coming down the line."

Yet somehow, John McCain manages to tell America with a straight face that the surge is working. Most likely, he has developed what all true neoconservatives possess: his own personal truth fairy who tells him whatever he needs to hear to justify whatever means he employs in pursuit of his political aim. And since his presidential candidacy rides on the all-in commitment he made to Bush's surge strategy, he'll stay on top of that horse until it either reaches the barn or the glue factory.

Or, to couch his mendacity in terms his fellow naval aviators will immediately recognize, that's his story and he's sticking to it.

For a change.


Jeff Huber's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available April 1, 2008.
"…a witty, wacky, wildly outrageous novel that skewers just about anything you’d care to name, from military budgets to political machinations to America’s success as the self-appointed guardian of the world…a remarkably accomplished book, striking just the right balance between ridicule and insight." — Booklist

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pakistan Bananastan

Pakistan, it appears, has replaced Afghanistan as the world's top Bananastan.

You may remember "Afghanistan bananastan" from the 1972 film The Hot Rock, in which thief Robert Redford uses the phrase to put vault guards into a hypnotic trance. Today, a "Bananastan" is (largely by my decree) a South Asian equivalent of a South American Banana Republic. Don't confuse a Bananastan with a Bananaraq, which is a Southwest Asian Banana Republic, or with the Barbecue Republic, which is the United States.

Like a Banana Republic, Pakistan is rife with corruption and has been ruled of late by a puppet (albeit an often uncooperative puppet) of the Barbecue Republic who has run roughshod over his country's constitution and judicial system; which, come to think of it, makes the Bananastan a lot like the Barbecue Republic, too. In many ways, in fact, Pakistan objectifies all that has failed in American foreign policy, and in America itself, over the past seven years and change.

Worst Laid Plans

Preserving and spreading democracy has been the central aim of U.S. foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson was in office. The current administration has taken less than a decade to sabotage the efforts of generations.

Recent elections in the Middle East have transformed terrorist outfits like Hezbollah (Lebanon), Hamas (Palestine) and the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt) into legitimate political parties. No one can readily predict how soon we'll manage to extract ourselves, if ever, from the quagmire all those purple fingers created in Iraq. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the latest Rovewellian reincarnation of Hitler who's president of the "single greatest challenge" to our security, was duly elected to office. And now, the peace loving people of our new top Bananastan have voted their tinhorn's political party out of power, and there's talk among the victors about impeaching the tinhorn. (Did I tell you the Bananastan looks a lot like the Barbecue Republic or what?)

The Bananastan also illustrates the haplessness of the Barbecue Republic's attempts at controlling nuclear weapons proliferation. Pakistan, not Iraq or Iran or even North Korea, is the country most likely to let a nuke creep into the hands of terrorists.

A year ago, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell confessed that our Bananastan is the sanctuary of the tallest Arab ever wanted dead or alive by a U.S. president. Clear back in 2003, former Indian general and terrorism expert K.P.S. Gill said that not only was bin Laden holed up in Pakistan, but that members of Pakistani intelligence knew where he was. Dr. Ajai Sahni, another Indian authority on terrorism, said that the Pakistani army and intelligence service actively facilitated bin Laden's relocation from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

That could explain why the CIA opted to ask forgiveness rather than permission from the Pakistani government for its latest spy-fly-die mission against an al Qaeda operative in that country.

The Spy Who Snuffed Me

On January 29, the CIA killed al Qaeda Leader Abu Laith al-Libi in the Pakastini town of Mir Ali. A "knowledgeable Western official" told CNN that al Libi was "'not far below the importance of the top two al Qaeda leaders'—Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri." The story barely broke the radar horizon. Perhaps we've grown so inured to hearing about al Qaeda number two men meeting instant justice by now that when the target is "below the importance" of a number two, nobody could give a number two less.

As Joby Warrick and Robin Wright of the Washington Post tell the story, the CIA used a "variety of surveillance techniques" to track al Libi to the home of a local Taliban commander. A Predator drone aircraft was flown over the site. Two Hellfire missiles left the Predator and tore into the compound, destroying the main building and the gatehouse, and killing up to 13 inhabitants. Unnamed officials told the Post that the CIA conducted the strike without obtaining the Pakistani government's permission beforehand. Wright and Warrick say reaction to the strike from U.S. and Pakistani leaders has been "muted" because neither side is eager to call attention to an awkward situation.

But there's something a darn sight more awkward about this situation than whether or not the Pakistanis gave prior permission for the operation. Let's make something very clear: foreign governments don't order U.S. forces into combat. The U.S. government does that, and in theory, we have rules about who exactly in the U.S. government is authorized to do it.

Bananastan Shenanigan

A former intelligence officer involved with previous strikes in Pakistan said "In the past, it required getting approval from the highest levels." This time, the drone operators, situated half a world away at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, released the missiles "On orders from CIA officials in McLean [Virginia]."

The "Standing Rules of Engagement for U.S. Forces" defines this and other sorts of offensive operations as acts of national defense, things normally approved of by, at minimum, the four-star officer in charge of the geographic area of responsibility. This strike occurred in Central Command, and it sounds like CENTCOM chief Admiral William Fallon got cut out of the loop.

We can plausibly speculate that the CIA acts as hit man on these missions in order to work around the military chain of command. One can even reasonably argue that the time critical nature of this kind of operation demands a streamlined chain of command. But this is not Spy vs. Spy shtick where we slip the evildoer a designer drug that makes his beard fall out. These are air strikes, overt military operations, something that Congress is supposed to have a say in.

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 allows a president to "introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities" for a maximum of 90 days without a declaration of war or a "specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces" from Congress. Mr. Bush had an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from Congress to invade Iraq. He doesn't have one for Pakistan.

If we want to take an argument for the legality of the Pakistan strikes to the sublime level, we might say that the CIA does not, per se, constitute a "United States Armed Force," and therefore its actions aren't covered by the War Powers Resolution. But how, then, do we justify the Bananastan style shenanigans that have been going on in Somalia? There, we have conducted air strikes not just against al Qaeda "compounds," but against entire villages, and not just with CIA drones carrying a pair of relatively small missiles, but with U.S. Air Force AC-130 gun ships that can rip a town into smithereens in a lot less time than it takes a subsidiary of Halliburton to rebuild one. And there's no AUMF for Somalia either.

If we argue that the Somali strikes are sanctioned by the "blank check" permissions of the AUMF of September 18, 2001 that authorized Mr. Bush "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against anyone or anything that might have had a connection with 9/11 or might ever conceivably be involved with a terrorist plot against the U.S. , then we have a president who can initiate wars whenever and wherever he wants without approval from any other branch of government.

That, fellow citizens, is one of the top three characteristics of a Barbecue Republic. The other two are the executive's ability to a) disappear the Bill of Rights and b) place covert propaganda and disinformation in the domestic media without fear of censure or penalty.

Welcome to your Brave New World Order.


Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available April 1, 2008.
"…a witty, wacky, wildly outrageous novel that skewers just about anything you’d care to name, from military budgets to political machinations to America’s success as the self-appointed guardian of the world…a remarkably accomplished book, striking just the right balance between ridicule and insight." —Booklist

Monday, February 18, 2008

Defense Budget: Feed the Pig

"Isn't it odd that after a terrorist attack that relied on $2 box-cutters, we are redoubling our pursuit of fantastical weaponry?"

Robert Scheer

On February 4, largely evading the media radar like a B-2 (Billion) stealth bomber, the Bush administration proposed to Congress a 2009 Defense budget of $515.4 billion. If approved, this amount, adjusting for inflation, will be the highest defense appropriation since World War II.

This is just the tab for "standard operations." Non-standard operations like the business in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere cost extra, as do defense related activities in departments like Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Energy, Justice and so forth. We can't calculate an exact figure for the total security tab. Doctor Robert Higgs , Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute, said in 2004 that "a well-founded rule of thumb is to take the Pentagon's (always well publicized) basic budget total and double it."

What will we get security wise for some indeterminate amount over $1 trillion? According to William Lind, defense analyst and co-author of The Case for Military Reform, "Most of what we're buying is a military museum."

Bringing Home the Bacon

The military we had on 9/11/2001 was the best-trained, best-equipped force in the world. Yet, it did not defend us against the attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Some time in 2006, U.S. defense spending exceeded that of the rest of the world combined. Today, the best-funded military in history is failing to achieve its country's goals overseas. Though we have battled toe-to-toe with al Qaeda for over six years, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell says the organization "remains the pre-eminent terrorist threat against the United States" and it is "improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.: the identification, training, and positioning of operatives for an attack in the homeland."

And all this time you thought we were fighting them over there so we wouldn't have to fight them over here.

Despite bankroll warfare's demonstrated failure, Pavlov's Dogs of War insist we can solve our security woes by throwing more money at them. Neoconservative luminary Frank Gaffney says we need to maintain defense spending at four percent of America's gross domestic product (GDP). Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen agree. By what specific criteria did they arrive at the four percent figure?

Gates, according to his press secretary Geoff Morrell, believes four percent "to be a reasonable price to stay free and protect our interests around the world.” Mullen says of the four percent benchmark, “It’s really important."

That the defense budget should be tied to the GDP has been a neoconservative clarion call for decades. I first heard it while attending the U.S. Naval War College in the 90s, but never once while at the War College did I hear or read of a single war's outcome that was determined by what percentage of their GDPs the belligerents spent on their militaries. If percentage of GDP expended on defense were an accurate predictor of failure or success in armed conflict, 27 other countries could presently kick our keyster in a straight up conventional war, including such military powerhouses as Armenia, Swaziland and Barundi.

The reason war hawks typically give for the need to increase military spending is that our Iraq experience shows we need a bigger Army and Marine Corps. But the Iraq experience really shows that we don't need to fight any more wars like the one we're fighting in Iraq, and wars like the one in Iraq are the only reason we would need a bigger Army and Marine Corps.

Frank Gaffney, on the other hand, believes in security through high tech, high dollar solutions.

Clutching Forks and Knives

Gaffney's name appears on 1997 Statement of Principles of the infamous Project for the New American Century that says "we need to increase defense spending significantly." His name also appears on the PNAC's September 20, 2001 letter to George W. Bush that encouraged the president to remove Saddam Hussein from power by force "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack."
These days, Gaffney is president of the Center for Security Policy which he founded in 1988 and a columnist for the slightly right of Generalissimo Francisco Franco Washington Times.

In a December 2007 Times piece, Gaffney asserted that if we don't continue to feed the Pentagon's insatiable appetite, we'll "leave the armed forces fighting today's wars with yesterday's weapons." Following this line of logic, Gaffney urged additional funding for the F-22 Raptor, which by a gentlemanly margin is the most expensive air-to-air fighter ever built and a weapon platform as vital to today's global security environment as the blunderbuss.

No, Gaffney's not concerned that the Red Sultan and his Flying Carpet Air Shieks will wrest control of the skies from us. He's worried because "countries like Russia and China are demonstrating a determination to field militaries comparable to and capable of inflicting great harm on the best of our armed forces."

Sure, Frank. By and large, what's left of Russia's mighty Cold War arsenal is either leaking radioactivity in the silo, rusting on the flight line, sinking at the pier or burning in Chechnya. The Russians already got their hats handed to them in one arms race with the U.S. They aren't inclined to take up another one.

What's more, China isn't likely to launch a campaign to challenge our military industrial air superiority complex. The vast majority of China's fighter jets are Jian-7s and -8s, aircraft patterned after the Mig-17 Fishbed which the Soviets introduced in 1956.

You may not be shocked to learn that the boards of directors and advisers of Gaffney's Center for Security Policy are typically populated with executive officers of Lockheed Martin, the primary contractor for the F-22 project. The CSP boards also include executives from defense companies involved with the Star Wars missile defense system that doesn't work, a system that Gaffney also aggressively advocates.

Don't jump to the conclusion that we have a conflict of interests going on here. Gaffney and his cronies, all loyal patriots, are merely concerned for our country's security.

And the F-22 Raptor and Star Wars will be, after all, America's first, last and only line of defense when the Borg invade.


Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available April 1, 2008.
"…a witty, wacky, wildly outrageous novel that skewers just about anything you’d care to name, from military budgets to political machinations to America’s success as the self-appointed guardian of the world…a remarkably accomplished book, striking just the right balance between ridicule and insight."


Saturday, February 09, 2008

John McCain and the Forever War

"I have wounds to show you…"

—William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Coriolanus

In his January 28 State of the Union address, George W. Bush told Congress, America and the world that "The surge is working" and "al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq."

Mr. Bush must not have been watching NBC six days earlier when his "main man" in Iraq General David Petraeus said that, "there is no light at the end of the tunnel that we're seeing." And one has to wonder how Mr. Bush, if forced to, would square al Qaeda being "on the run" with the February 5 statement by his Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell that al Qaeda "remains the pre-eminent terrorist threat against the United States" and that he is "increasingly concerned" that al Qaeda in Iraq "may shift resources to mounting more attacks outside of Iraq.”

Mr. Bush would likely be mystified as a prehistoric man watching a rocket launch to know what the chief architect of his surge strategy had to say concerning whether or not it is "working." In the fall of 2003, when the Iraq situation was just beginning to unravel, neoconservative warfare guru Frederick Kagan wrote that combat which does not achieve the political objectives of an armed conflict—precisely the condition we have in Iraq—is merely "organized but senseless violence."

One may have grown inured by now to Mr. Bush's web of denial and delusion regarding his woebegone war in Iraq. One should be alarmed, however, that the evident GOP nominee to replace Mr. Bush appears content to extend America's policy of senseless global violence into the next century.

Neocons and Theocons

Before he dropped out of the race, Mitt Romney's foreign policy platform seemed to have something to do with using his personal wealth to bribe the rest of the world into doing what we want it to. Mike Huckabee's global agenda appears to involve praying for our enemies before having God and/or Chuck Norris smite them.

John McCain promises more war. He is "fine" with us spending another 100 years in Iraq. Maybe he was joking when he said that; but what kind of joke is that for a presidential candidate to be making? A regular Bob Hope, that John McCain is.

McCain was foursquare behind the surge in Iraq from the get go. That's how he became the official unofficial Bush sanctioned candidate to succeed the unitary throne. Back in November, McCain said "We've succeeded militarily." McCain must not have gotten the memo from Fred Kagan.

Straight Talk, No Chaser

The surge strategy was never meant to be anything more than a stall tactic, a ruse to keep a lid on political discontent over the mishandling of Iraq until a) our commitment there became a crack too tight for any Democratic president to wriggle out of or b) Team Bush could get John McCain elected and preserve the neoconservative initiative for war everlasting against post-modern extremism, emboldened Islamo-fabulism, or whatever magical realism happens to be available.

John McCain was highly critical of Donald Rumsfeld's conduct of the Iraq war. "We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement—that's the kindest word I can give you—of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," he said. He also said, "Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history."

McCain didn't say those things at the time Rumsfeld actually was mismanaging the war and being one of the worst SECDEFs in history. When Rumsfeld resigned from being such a bad defense secretary shortly after the 2006 elections, McCain said that Rumsfeld "deserves Americans' respect and gratitude for his many years of public service." Did he honestly think Rumsfeld deserved our esteem and thanks for being a worst ever wartime Secretary of Defense, or was that just another example of McCain's celebrated sense of humor?

It didn't sound like McCain was kidding during the 2000 GOP nomination race when he censured the Republican Party—and Mr. Bush—for pandering to the Christian right. He went so far as to characterize Jerry Falwell as an "agent of intolerance," and said the ideas of Falwell and his fellow televangelist Pat Robertson were "not good for the Republican Party."

By 2006, as the next Republican nomination race left the gate, Falwell had apparently become far more tolerable to McCain, who gave that year's commencement speech at Falwell's Freedom University. On Meet the Press afterwards, McCain explained that he now believed "the Christian Right has a major role to play in the Republican Party." That role, clearly, was to support McCain for the nomination and not some theocon like Romney or Huckabee.

In 2001 and 2003, he was a vociferous opponent of Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. Today, McCain promises to make them permanent, and Mr. Bush has praised him for it.

Here all this time I thought flip-flopping was something only Democratic presidential candidates did. Maybe it's a Vietnam vet thing, huh?


Coriolanus, Shakespeare's patrician war hero of ancient Rome, obliterates his honor and integrity when he succumbs to his political ambition and displays his war wounds to the plebians in exchange for their votes. John McCain's conduct as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton rivaled the bravery and moral character of any hero of myth or history you care to name; but the character presently running for president is not the same John McCain.

In a recent Newsweek profile of McCain, Evan Thomas wrote that the Senator "bridles at anyone or anything that impugns his honor." So far, however, the party most responsible for impugning McCain's honor has been McCain himself.

It was in an October debate that McCain first trotted out his cheesy one liner "I was tied up at the time" to explain his absence from the original Woodstock concert. I hoped that he would try to put this moment behind him, and let everyone forget how he had dumbed down the McCain sense of humor to tickle ditto head tastes, but no. McCain is so proud of this scripted ad lib that he turned it into a television ad that he now proudly features on his campaign website.

Worse yet is the image of a freshly tortured Lieutenant McCain that the Senator featured in his Christmas ad. This too would have been better swept under the rug, but he continues to feature this graphic in his media campaign. I'm frankly embarrassed for the guy, that he seems oblivious to the fact that he's making a spectacle of something so deserving of tacit reverence, and anyone concerned for his dignity and the dignity of all American POWs, living and departed, should be embarrassed too.

Worst of all is McCain's insistence that having been a prisoner of war for five plus years taught him something about when and why and how to conduct a war. It didn't. McCain's rhetoric indicates he doesn't know any more about the subject than does his ideological soul mate Joe Lieberman, and you forget more about the art of war every time you blow your nose than Joe Lieberman will ever learn.

McCain's war talk consists of the same Rovewellian boo noise we hear from the rest of Bush's echo chamberlains. He cautions that if we withdraw from Iraq, we'll fall into isolationism, which means that his idea of being engaged with the rest of the world is to invade and occupy it. He warns that victory in Iraq is essential because defeat will lead to bigger fiasco that the one we've already created.

Let's get something straight. The terms "victory" and "defeat" long ago lost any relevance to the situation in Iraq and the so-called war on terror. "Defeat" would entail our troops dropping their weapons, throwing up their hands, and allowing the evil ones to cut their heads off on videotape while one of Osama bin Laden's thousand-and-one number two men holds up a sign in the background that reads "Jihad Accomplished." "Victory" would involve bin Laden signing articles of surrender on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln while latter day American Caesar David Petraeus looks on.

McCain either knows this, and knows he's pitching us a bale of humbug, or he suffers from an even worse case of arrested cognition that Bush has.

Many of us, including and especially me, share McCain's self-confessed "many failings;" but many of us including me aren't running for president. McCain is a slob. He has no patience for detail. He is vindictive. He is a hypocrite, a fawner and a panderer who loudly condemns the practices of fawning and pandering. Newsweek's Thomas relates that as an "angry toddler," McCain would hold his breath until he passed out, a habit his parents tried to cure him of by dropping him in a tub of ice water. Today, he's a perpetually f-bombing temper tantrum with a 71 year-old life support system. McCain won't outgrow that sort of thing once he's in the Oval Office.

In some ways, I can admire those traits in McCain, and I rather hope Congress always has a "Senator Hothead" or three to shake things up when they need shaking.

But as president of the United States, John McCain would be the most dangerous human being of the face of the earth.


Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available April 1, 2008.
"…a witty, wacky, wildly outrageous novel that skewers just about anything you’d care to name, from military budgets to political machinations to America’s success as the self-appointed guardian of the world…a remarkably accomplished book, striking just the right balance between ridicule and insight."


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Blooper Tuesday

We live in historic times, and very few examples from history can fail to resonate in some way with current events. I found retracing of the Battle of Yorktown with Steve especially relevant.

On October 19, 1781, Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered his forces to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, marking the end of America's struggle for independence. Britain's defeat in this battle was partly the result of a lengthy campaign that involved skilled application of guerillas tactics by the Americans and a brilliant joint and combined force operation conducted by American and French land and maritime forces. It also came about because of the pitiable foreign policies of King George of England and the arrogance and incompetence of his titled general officers.

Whatever line may have once demarked American foreign policies from domestic ones has vanished, probably forever. We cannot possibly address our internal woes effectively without some sort of workable solution to the overseas fiasco our Unitary George has created, but I'm somewhat pessimistic that the majority of our leading presidential hopefuls can provide that solution.

John McCain gives the promise of more war, even though war has devolved over the Bush decade into a degenerative tool of foreign policy. All Mitt Romney seems offer is a chance bribe the rest of the world into cooperating with us from his personal fortune, but even his pockets aren't deep enough to pull off a stunt like that. As best I can tell, the crux of Mike Huckabee's foreign policy plan involves having Chuck Norris beat up anybody who doesn't do what we tell them to, and I fear Hillary Clinton will still be explaining how she didn't really vote for the war in Iraq she voted for even as she explains how she didn’t really promise to get us out of it.

That leaves one viable candidate who might have a chance of hauling us out of the sand trap we've hooked our way into. So far, Barack Obama's taste in foreign policy advisers (like Zbigniew Brzezinski) seems impeccable. Let's just hope we never hear of him hunkering down with the likes of Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan.


Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) will be available April 1, 2008.