Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

President McCain's 100-Year Wars

He keeps reminding us how lucky we were that he lost in 2008. Now John McCain gets into a more-warlike-than-thou exchange with the Afghan War's current proprietor, David Petraeus.

Testifying before the Senate, the General cites "fragile and reversible" gains, guardedly talking about possible drawdowns but raising a likelihood of joint military bases with local forces well after our troops are scheduled to leave in 2014.

But that's not enough for McCain, who during the campaign talked breezily about a 100-year-war in Iraq. As ranking Republican on the Armed Forces Committee, he presses Petraeus to say that, instead of withdrawing some American forces this summer, a “reinvestment” of U.S. troops might be required.

This exchange follows a new poll showing nearly two-thirds of Americans now feel that the Afghan War is not worth fighting. If McCain were in the White House, instead of a cautious Obama, would we be slouching unthinkingly toward a second decade there as turmoil throughout the Middle East raises questions about how much blood and money we should invest in the region--and for what purpose?

But strategic thinking has never been McCain's style, just shoot-from-the-hip reflexes of a career military man with a hammer who sees every problem as a nail. (Libya no-flight zone? Why not?)

Yet it may be too charitable to excuse away the former maverick's bad judgment by background alone. Contrast him with another soldier named Eisenhower, who led America to victory in World War II but left the White House warning against the "military-industrial complex" and the "disastrous rise of misplaced power" that could endanger "our liberties or democratic processes."

Ike said it even more simply: "People want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

But not if John McCain can help it.

Update: The level of discourse goes lower as a frustrated Democratic House member quotes the Rolling Stone editor whose interview helped bring down the previous Afghan commander:

"General Petraeus is giving us the Charlie Sheen counter-insurgency strategy, which is to give exclusive interviews to every major network, and to keep saying 'we're winning' and hope the public actually agrees with you."

If only as many Americans were paying attention to the endless war as to Charlie Sheen, there might be a civilized debate about it.


Ralph said...


John H said...

Most military people are not war mongers but you have to remember McCain's background. He was never a good naval officer. He lost plane after plane. He was nothing but a hot shot fly boy who only got as far as he did because his father and grandfather were senior admirals.

John McCain showed little judgment when in the navy (other than doing the right thing when a POW) and never made admiral. He has never shown any better judgment since becoming a senator.