Karl Rove spokesman John Sidney McCain III hasn't even been officially nominated at the Republican National Convention yet and already he's threatening to start a war with Russia. Of course, young voters may not feel the same passion that McCain does when it comes to the former Soviet Union, inasmuch as unlike McCain they did not personally witness the fall of the Romanovs in 1917.
Anyway, before the media again falls in love with Sidney's fabulous military and foreign policy credentials and starts listening to him about yet another war, it would be nice -- and in the national interest, to boot -- if they'd take a little closer look at McCain's analytical grasp of one of our current wars.
In Las Vegas Saturday McCain stood up in front of the Disabled American Veterans convention and spewed the usual claptrap about how Barack Obama can't be president because he didn't even vote for the Glorious Surge.
The Sun triple-teamed the event and of the 14 vets they talked to, only one was hot for McCain. The Gleaner (also in attendance) would like to add that when McCain vigorously (well, his head was shaking and his face was all clenched; let's be nice and call it vigor) declared "the surge has succeeded," it had the distinct sound of an applause line ... except nobody applauded -- yet more evidence that America's veterans may not be nearly as enamored with McCain's much-marketed biography as the liberal media.
But about McCain's oft-repeated assertion about the Magnificent Surge ...
Dr. Cole is an indispensable tracker and linker of Iraq developments, but in one essay in particular he unpacks much of the "surge" mythology. For starters, Cole calls out McCain's "logical fallacy" that attributes a decrease in violence to the surge:
"If event X comes after event Y, it is natural to suspect that Y caused X. But it would often be a false assumption. Thus, actress Sharon Stone alleged that the recent earthquake in China was caused by China's crackdown on Tibetan protesters."
After dismissing any claims of political progress attributed to the surge as "too laughable to command real respect," Cole acknowledges that Patraeus' military tactics are smarter than those attempted by the general's ham-handed predecessors. But he also scoffs at the notion that 30,000 additional troops tipped the balance in a country of 27 million people.
"What actually seems to have happened," Cole notes, "was that the escalation troops began by disarming the Sunni Arabs in Baghdad. Once these Sunnis were left helpless, the Shiite militias came in at night and ethnically cleansed them."
And that brings us to this video from an Iraqi journalist for the
Guardian (via C&L) who returns to Baghdad to find that that, yeah, sectarian
violence is down ... because all the sectarians are locked behind 12 foot
Yes, nothing says a Bechtel or Halliburton infrastructure restoration project like entire streets full of open sewage. But rest assured, the nightly news should begin reporting on all the walls (and maybe even some of the sewage behind them) any day now -- perhaps when the election is over and the networks have more time to devote to Iraq coverage.
Obama is in a tough spot. It's not that he was wrong to oppose the surge. It's that if he starts explaining there are any number of reasons behind the diminished attacks on American troops in Iraq -- the U.S. buying off of Sunnis outside of Baghdad, the America-ennabled ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, al-Sadr standing down (for now) to play politics, perhaps even a decision to help calm things down on the part of the Iranians who now have more influence in Iraq than the U.S.(Reid was right when he said the was was lost) -- the Rove confidantes who control McCain will say oh look there goes Obama saying that U.S. troops aren't as great as everyone knows they are and how come Obama hates America so much.
Hmm, nuanced explanation of "conditions on the ground" (a phrase that McCain is fond of uttering but loathe to understand) or Rovian stooges saying Obama hates the troops -- wonder which story the mainstream media will cover in an election year.
Meantime, it's hard to know what's more disturbing. Either McCain keeps saying that the surge is a success over and over again
because he genuinely believes it, in which case he's a doddering old fool, or he actually knows full well that
things are much more complicated than his simplistic messaging suggests but
he's sticking with it anyway because he's too weak and frail to stand up to Rove's tireless demonic acolytes and he's ceded his entire campaign to them.
In any event, sure, McCain may be a big media celebrity. But even and generously assuming that it might have been true at some point in the past, no serious person can believe that he is still ready to lead.