Friday, July 25, 2008

We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right," McCain said

McCain rejects 'audacity of hopelessness' for Iraq
Jul 25, 7:21 PM (ET)
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, ridiculing Barack Obama for "the audacity of hopelessness" in his policies on Iraq, said Friday that the entire Middle East could have plunged into war had U.S. troops been withdrawn as his rival advocated.

Speaking to an audience of Hispanic military veterans, McCain stepped up his criticism of Obama while the Illinois senator continued his headline-grabbing tour of the Middle East and Europe. The Arizona Republican contended that Obama's policies - he opposed sending more troops to Iraq in the "surge" that McCain supported - would have led to defeat there and in Afghanistan.

"We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right," McCain said, a play on the title of Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope."

McCain laid out a near-apocalyptic chain of events he said could have resulted had Obama managed to stop the troop buildup ordered by President Bush: U.S. forces retreating under fire, the Iraqi army collapsing, civilian casualties increasing dramatically, al-Qaida killing cooperative Sunni sheiks and finding safe havens to train fighters and launch attacks on Americans, and civil war, genocide and a wider conflict.

"Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened," he said. "Terrorists would have seen our defeat as evidence America lacked the resolve to defeat them. As Iraq descended into chaos, other countries in the Middle East would have come to the aid of their favored factions, and the entire region might have erupted in war."

Noting that the buildup was unpopular with most Americans, McCain said: "Sen. Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth."

Obama has called for a withdrawal over 16 months. McCain again criticized him for advocating "a politically expedient timetable" and for voting against funding for troops.

McCain had raised eyebrows earlier this week by charging that Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign."

There was more, it's here.


Vigilante said...

If McCain hadn't been - from the beginning - cheerleading Busheney's unnecessary invasion and endless occupation of Iraq, our now divided country would be united in the the audacity of hopefulness. But alas, Republicans have never seen a war they didn't like.

BostonMaggie said...

It's ridiculous to say that a man who was a POW for five and a half years would be a cheerleader for a war.

Bush has a vision. You don't like it. I understand. But it is part of something bigger. Have you read Barnett's "The Pentagon's New Map"? Iraq is a piece of something bigger. It was not planned as well as it should have been. It was not executed as well as it should have been.

However, we are on the verge of success there and that success will benefit the entire world. History will judge whether or not it was worth the price.

Vigilante said...

Yes, McCain is ridiculous.

Vigilante said...

Perhaps I should have said Thomas Barnett has never seen a war he didn't like.

Truth is, I could have sworn that Barnett wrote a book called The Gap before he wrote the Pentagon's New Map. Couldn't find a reference to it, so it must have been just a scholarly article I read. I liked his concept of Gap, but drew a contrary conclusion:

· Defense rather than offense
· Defend, nurture, and promote modern societies along the frontiers of the gap(s).
· Whether there's some hope for the people in the gap or no hope, don't go looking for trouble.
· History is on the side of the global world economic system.
· Some gappers will come along, some will not.

Nothing wrong with Barnett's diagnosis. Just his prescription: that we go looking for trouble, because we can afford all the trouble in the world (we can't!). This is Barnett in March 2003:

The reason I support going to war in Iraq is not simply that Saddam is a cutthroat Stalinist willing to kill anyone to stay in power, nor because that regime has clearly supported terrorist networks over the years. The real reason I support a war like this is that the resulting long-term military commitment will finally force America to deal with the entire Gap as a strategic threat environment.

Sounds like McCain in 2008: "There will be wars. Lots of wars."

BostonMaggie said...

Your opinion and you're entitled to it.

However, I think that was childish.

Vigilante said...

There you go again. Just when I think I have found a conservative who's got a mind, I'm disappointed that she doesn't want to use it.

BostonMaggie said...

For the record my observation to you being childish was in response to the first remark "Yes, McCain is ridiculous.". And I stand by it.

It just got out there after the Barnett response.

However, I am on my way out to dinner and have no time right now to respond to the Barnett comment.

My mind is fine and useful.

BostonMaggie said...

His "Gap"/"Core" theory is older than "The Pentagon's New Map".

You can't settle for some "Gap" will come along, some won't. As long as there is "Gap", they will strike at the "Core".

You must export security in order to create the setting for the other events to take place. You need a flow of money and ideas into the "Gap" and you need a flow of migration out of the "Gap". Money is not going to go in (with the exception of foreign aid) until the target country is perceived as stable and safe.

There is only one country that can export security and that's us. Other countries can help, but none of the other "Core" countries can do it on their own.

What we have built in Iraq is fragile and expensive.....but if it works....if it continues, it tips the scales in our (Core) favor.

You really should give the book a shot. It's well written. Even if you don't draw the same conclusion, isn't it helpful to understand what we are trying to achieve?

My biggest beef with "W" is that he has never been able to successfully communicate this to America at large. If more people understood the problem, and the goal we would be better off.

I'm not saying that if he were a great communicator we would all be in complete agreement.....we wouldn't be. But it would really help all the people who see the number of casualties and say "Why?"

Vigilante said...

Thanks for engaging, Maggie.

And thanks for confirming Gap/Core theory preceded the Pentagon's New Map. When I was reading Barnett earlier in this decade, I was impressed with his theory's ability to describe international realities. It was much more productive theory than, say, Huntington's clash of civilizations. I was just surprised how he applied it.

I'm resisting a temptation to go to Barnett a quote chapter & verse. Where we disagree (especially) is where you say,

There is only one country that can export security and that's us. Other countries can help, but none of the other "Core" countries can do it on their own.

This is where I take you mean what Bush tried in Iraq; what he means by "going on the offensive against terror". (Leaving Afghanistan aside as a special case.) No one country can afford to export security. Not even us. All we can do is, in ad hoc concerts with other great powers is to shore up nation-states on the periphery of the Gap. Pakistan is a case in point. Lebanon is another. And so is South Africa.

Take South Africa: this democratic miracle is in danger of sliding back over the cliff due to unresolved pockets of extreme poverty. An especially egregious source of conflict is the nativist hostility against unlimited migration from Zimbabwe. There is total unrest in areas around Alexandra, where jobs and especially housing has become a crisis. The reaction of the CORE should be to fix this situation by finding someone or someway to put a bullet between Mugabe's eyes. Don't occupy Zimbabwe; just assassinate the bastard and let the Zimbabweans shakes themselves out. It won't be pretty, but it wasn't before. With Mugabe gone. South Africa can send Zimbabweans back where they came from.

I could give other examples. A major point is that the Gap is diffuse, divergent, and eclectic. Left to itself it cannot be unified. Whereas the Core has a built-in unified interest in protecting the new world order and its food chain. Therefore, I'm basically optimistic of the Core's chances, given prudent leadership which does not bleed the Core dry in terms of will, resources, and blood.

I probably should do a post on this. I am convinced re-reading Barnett will only strengthen the argument that the developed world should play defense, not offense.