Is McCain About to ‘Refine’ His Withdrawal Plan, Too?

Jim Lobe, July 08, 2008

Don’t be surprised if Sen. John McCain “refines” his own Iraq plans very soon, just as his campaign has accused Barack Obama of doing.

In an article in Monday’s USA Today, ret. Army Gen. Jack Keane, a key architect and supporter of the “Surge”, who is close to both Gen. David Petraeus and the neo-conservatives who are advising McCain, predicted “significant reductions (in U.S. troops in Iraq) in 2009 whoever becomes president.” Even more remarkably — and in contrast to the repeated cautions by senior military officials in Iraq, including Petraeus, that the progress made by the Surge over the past year remains “fragile” and “reversible” — Keane told the newspaper, “I think the momentum we have (in Iraq) is not reversible.”

With Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard already declaring victory, Keane’s assessment opens the door for McCain, who revised his previous opposition to setting any timetable for withdrawal when he declared in mid-May that most U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by 2013, to suggest an accelerated pace that may yet approach Obama’s timetable for withdrawing all U.S. combat troops 16 months after taking office, or by June, 2010. Despite the ridicule that such a revision might invite, the fact is that the Iraq war remains a loser for McCain, especially among independent voters.

Interestingly, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, who is desperate to get more troops into Afghanistan, revived the possibility Monday that Washington will continue withdrawing troops from Iraq after only a brief pause in August after the formal end of the Surge. That possibility seemed to have been put on the shelf a couple of months ago when Bush indicated that troop levels were unlikely to be reduced below the 140,000 to be reached at the end of this month through the rest of the administration. Whether Mullen’s remarks were provoked by a new assessment that improvements in Iraq are indeed irreversible, as Keane apparently believes, or whether they reflect a new Pentagon effort to persuade Bush to revise his own timetable isn’t clear yet.

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.


Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.



102 Responses to “Is McCain About to ‘Refine’ His Withdrawal Plan, Too?”

  1. The war in Iraq is a disaster. Eventually the Americans will leave. They will either leave because of the insurgents killing and wounding them and the USA running out of naive teenagers in jobless, rural communities joining the volunteer army, or they will leave because the American economy grinds to a collapse. Either way they will leave. The insurgents have shown the world that America can be defied. Hopefully the Iraq diaster will mark the beginning of the demise of the American empire. Hopefully the United States will return to being a REPUBLIC with limited government and the liberties rescinded by Washington’s so-called “war on terror” will be restored.

  2. The US is in Iraq to steal as much oil as it possibly can as fast as it can! Why the hell would they want to leave all that free oil behind…plus, all that free oil in Iran?! And what about all that revenue the “defense” industry will lose out on? Not gonna happen! These wars will drag on and on for years to come.

    So, this is a red herring.

  3. That’s why there was no exit startegy; they never intended to leave..these arrogant Israel First neo-cons and their war-profiteering allies thought they could turn Iraq into an arabic version of Puerto Rico..Of course, in the long run it would actually be better for the US if these war-mongers and thieves are proven wrong..

  4. Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

    Polonius: By the mass, and ’tis like a camel, indeed.

    Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.

    Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.

    Hamlet: Or like a whale?

    Polonius: Very like a whale.

    [WS]

    In Kuwait before the first Gulf War it cost $3 to get a barrel of oil from the well onto the tanker.

    How much is it going to cost to pump and deliver and ship under armed guard and with naval escort?

  5. I wouldn’t put much stock in a “revised” McCain Iraq plan. These corrupt politicians will say anything in an election year that will increase their chances of winning. They are criminals and liars and if you believe the opposite of what they say you are more likely to uncover the truth.

  6. Surge, schmurge. What “end” to the Surge? If payments continue to the Sunni partisans that stood aside for a price just prior to Bush’s injection of 20.000 troops completed earlier this year, the Surge isn’t over and won’t be. Although hyped as a military intervention, the Surge has been more like the transplantation of the Bursar’s Office. The discontinuation of these payments would represent the only valid test of the Surge and from the evidence it would likely fail.

    Respecting the two insects and their “revisions”, no one beside Justin Raimondo is conned. Raimondo’s recent apologetic for Obama and his marked ambivalence concerning the man are of genuine concern. Last week’s left critique of Obama has been accurate even though the Republicans have attempted to make hay of it. Obama is the worst sort of system worm, supported by lobbies of the education elites, trial lawyers and information technology companies. It’ll be their turn at the trough as soon as the oil company executives and big agriculture have had their Republican fill. I believe that we must be uncompromising with the system. Properly understood, there is no apology to be made either for it or for the self-serving bacteria that lead each of its components.

  7. McCain couldn’t plan his way out of a wet paper bag. The man has never had a legitimate job in his entire life. That anyone could rival George W. for intellectual laziness speaks volumes, but McCrazy gives him a run for his money.

    So the foreign policy genius that can’t tell the difference between a Sunni and a Shi’ite is going to make things better in the Middle East, eh? Yeah, and I’ve got some swamp land to sell you.

    Here’s a prediction: we’ll keep as many troops in Iraq as the political elite think they can get away with for as long as possible. Witness Japan and Korea. But unlike our protectorates in the Pacific, we won’t have 60 years to export our worthless currency to pay for the outpost in Iraq. When enough Americans have no savings, no home, and no job, maybe we’ll reach critical mass.

    Our empire, like all before us, will topple. Don’t look to McCain or Obama to let it happen gracefully.

  8. McCain jokes about killing Iranians with cigarettes:

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/email/idUKN0832180920080709

    And this man wants to be president! What a joke ?!

  9. Everything started with stealing.
    Israel steal the Palestaine with the help of Europians & Americans.
    People who lost the homes they become a Terrorist to the west Heroes to the Middle East.

    Invasion to Iraq to steal more oil,maybe to attack to Iran to steal oil.
    Like British steal oil supporting Shah and terrorised 1950ties democratic Iranian Premier.

    Simon says danger on stealing:
    1) You steal my property I will do my best to get it back.
    2) You kill my people to get the oil I will do my best to revenge.
    3) Stealing create Terrorist,live the peoples land & oil go home where you belong then terrorist will have no reason to terrorise you.

    So my frend stealing no good for you.

  10. Does McCain ever stop to wonder how his “jokes” play out overseas? Or with the Iranians? He has also “joked” about bombing Iran. What if Iran had thousands of nuclear missiles, twelve aircraft carriers, and was a military superpower. What if America had none of these things? What if an Iranian army was occupying Mexico like America is occupying Iraq? What if Iranian military ships, including carriers, were in the gulf of Mexico like American ships are in the Persian gulf? And finally what if some Iranian authority was “joking” about bombing America and how good it was their exports were killing Americans? This is statemanship?

  11. Remember when Bush was first considered for nomination back in 1999/2000, there was a lot of talk regarding Bush’s lack of “gravitas”? I guess the last eight years have put to rest the notion that the POTUS needs to be considered mature and restrained; the last eight years have proven that a even sophmoric jerk can function as POTUS. So I guess McCain will do just as fine as Bush. I have this mental image of Bush and McCain running around naked in a locker room snapping each other on the ass with wet towels. “Gravitas” enough for America.

  12. Of course he’s changing his position.
    Now that the brain dead Republicans have handed him the
    nomination he must broaden his base by appealing to
    people who possess half a brain.
    This is the neocon base: Brain dead Republicans and
    people with half a brain.

  13. The war in Iraq is a disaster but most wars are. America was hurting and the nation demanded action. To call all young people who served for their country as naive suggests the lady with the torch as no meaning. I was never in favour of war but history makes its own mind up. Humanity run its natural coarse (the biggest bully) wins the day and tells the tale. Empires rise and fall and history just tries to recall.

  14. I totally agree with you alekos!

    But, I’m sorry to say, I think they want to create more terrorists…terrorists are good for the “defense industry” and they provide an excellent excuse to stay in these oil/gas rich countries! If they can’t find real terrorists to shoot up the place they do it themselves…remember the two British SAS guys who were caught red-handed dressed as terrorists shooting civilians?

  15. “The war in Iraq is a disaster but most wars are.”,,,,, True, BUT THE WAR IN IRAQ WAS A WAR OF CHOICE. It could have been prevented. “America was hurting and the nation demanded action”,,,,, I presume this is in reference to the events of September 11th 2001. I can only reply that Iraq had NOTHING to do with this. Should the USA have invaded Canada as a response? “To call all young people who served their country as naive suggests the lady with the torch has no meaning”,,,,, HUH? How is fighting in Iraq serving your country or advancing freedom? The war in Iraq is evil, wicked, immoral, wrong, illegal and abhorrent to any decent American. “The biggest bully wins the day”,,,,, Gosh, I sure HOPE NOT. You are RIGHT about one thing though. The U.S. IS a bully.

  16. McCain is a lout, crude, mean, and rude. The GOP needs to get a get a grip, if he is the best and brightest that it has to offer this nation of ours. Bye, bye, American pie.

  17. Just a warning on McCain–he is a joker but his jokes can be deadly.While he was a fighter pilot,he got his jollies by over priming his jet engine,which shot a huge flame.Rear plane caught on fire and it’s payload of two-one thousand Lb. bombs killed 167 USS navy crew. Daddy Colonel McCain transfered Junior McCass to another ship on Q.T.–an the jollies continued.Lucky 4 our troops then,this goofus was caught as prisoner and put out of action.
    FYI: Also Afaghastian had nothing to do with Sept. 11,2001.

  18. weak

  19. An uncompromising view…..” THE WAR IN IRAQ WAS A WAR OF CHOICE” Iraq was an accident waiting to happen yet another leader Saddam Hussien playing the power game, supporting anything that made America look bad. America just like the Roman Empire, British, French etc. waged war on many fronts and paid a price?–strange though most have a strong economy now! Therefore I suggest that to keep the ‘status quo’ your first priority is to yourself— not a nice thing but true. The indoctrination of young people to protect what is America is understandable, although America is a divided country in every level of society. I am not an admirer of any of the leaders around the world because their priority is doing the best for themselves (wicked, immoral, wrong….) yes …does the biggest bully win. Well America is the strongest and most powerful in the world. On the positive side Religion as tried to create a balance of understanding and harmony even though the power hungry have attempted to hijack it—- odd though the leader or god is not of this world!!!!!!!

  20. Is not the surge that is so called working.Baghdad has been turned into different walled in sections easily controlled.If the Iraqi government reject the sign the so called defense aggreement with the US ,the salvador option will be put into action again as before.Therefore,the US will alaways have control over the Iraqi governmrnt.

  21. McInsane is a mirror image of the “typical” Amoricon voter: ignorant, xenophobic, and belligerent, just daring the rest of the world to knock the chip off of his shoulder. While definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed (another trait his shares with Boobus Americanus), McInsane has an uncanny knack for being able to relate and pander to Joe Sixpack the Voter’s most unsavory instincts while simultaneously representing the very interests and policies that will make Joe poorer and more oppressed in the coming years.

    In short, McInsane represents the twisted “leadership” that Amerika collectively (God, I hate that word!) wants and deserves.

  22. Saddam was better than Bush because he was more honest..If you can know a man by his enemies then Saddam was more good than bad..His enemies were Wahabi Sunnis like al-Quaeda, Shia extremists and Kurdish ( many of whom were communists ) seperatists…He kept his country together, got too opportunistic when Iran was chaotic in the early 80′s and should have waited ’til he was stronger before attempting to re-join Kuwait to Iraq…But he protected the Christians in Iraq who thrived under his regime ( his foreign minister was Catholic )..His Ba’ath Party contained Sunni, Shia and Christians and he financially supported the families of Palestinian resistance fighters..No wonder the New Order Pharisaical crowd hated him so much….I hope God showed mercy to perhaps the last rightful ruler of Iraq.

  23. .
    .
    the only thing Mccant should refine is his shuffle board technique
    .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqAXOnatyTo
    .

  24. Ridiculous.

    Honesty is only one virtue among many, and you are certainly not in a position to gauge the relative honesty of Bush and Saddam. Having lots of bad enemies is consistent with being worse than any of them. He kept his country together through systematic repression, fear, and violence. His ‘opportunism’ resulted in nearly half a million unnecessary casualties, and unless you think modern Iraq is the reincarnation of the Ottoman Empire, Kuwait had as much or more right to independence in 1990 as Iraq did in 2003. Whatever ‘toleration’ and ‘diversity’ flourished under Saddam did so only because his rule depended on their mutual support, but also on their animosity towards one another. No wonder all reasonable people deplored him as a brutal tyrant.

  25. “No wonder all reasonable people deplored him as a brutal tyrant.”

    Your remarks are devoid of facts and context, and the conclusion is delicious strictly as sophistry.

    “The reasonable deplore, and if you do not deplore you are not reasonable.”

    Today white is black. When will you be arguing the other side, and making black white?

  26. McBush is simply the Bad Cop in the Ablacker Bomber/McBush Good Cop/Bad Cop scam. Its depressing how many of you fall for it.

  27. Possibly, but I’m more than sure that the CIA encouraged him to attack Iran ( given all the aid that he rcvd fm the US and our allies..Kuwait was slant drilling into Iraqi oil fields..It was carved off fm Iraq by the British who wanted an oil puppet…Put Bush in Saddam’s place and I doubt he would’ve kept the country in one piece..Actually I think he would have crawled under his desk and soiled himself..A better man than Bush, and more honest…Yeah, I still think so…What I KNOW is this: as Americans it’s really none of our damn business who runs any of these countries in the first place..At least Saddam never said he was bringing “democracy” to Kuwait..( or Iran which was a border which escalated )..no, he sd he was taking it back..That’s certainly more honest than Bush..

  28. Yeah, Bill Kristol and his ilk are crowing about “victory” but note that it’s only a “victory” if U.S. troops stay in Iraq, forever and ever. To even speak of treating Iraq as a sovereign country gives poor Bill the vapors. Terrible, terrible defeat if we ever leave! he cries.

    They always meant to make Iraq a permanently garrisoned colony. I would think that even our dimwitted “journalists” would have caught on by now, but no…

  29. “a border war, which escalated..”

  30. As long as American troops are in the middle east there is going to be violence.

  31. Hello Weston,

    Let's see who has been under a brutal occupation for the last 40 years? Who are denied access to education, medical care, or freedom from arbitrary and unfounded arrest and imprisonment? Who has been subjected to ethnic cleansing and driven from their land with their homes demolished by bulldozers? Who have been refugees from a 60 year old war, and are not allowed to return to property they have legitimate title to?

    You bet that I would love to see America help these people in "overthrowing repressive dictators".

  32. What is “weak” about it, my dear fellow?

    In fact, McCain was already being called “Ace” in training, for the number of US aircraft he brought down.

    The whole list is impressive:

    McCain III lost jet number one in 1958 when he plunged into Corpus Christi Bay while practicing landings. He was knocked unconscious by the impact coming to as the plane settled to the bottom.

    McCain’s second crash occurred while he was deployed in the Mediterranean. “Flying too low over the Iberian Peninsula,” Timberg wrote, “he took out some power lines [reminiscent of the 1998 incident in which a Marine Corps jet sliced through the cables of a gondola at an Italian ski resort, killing 20] which led to a spate of newspaper stories in which he was predictably identified as the son of an admiral.”

    McCain’s third crash three occurred when he was returning from flying a Navy trainer solo to Philadelphia for an Army-Navy football game.

    Timberg reported that McCain radioed, “I’ve got a flameout” and went through standard relight procedures three times before ejecting at one thousand feet. McCain landed on a deserted beach moments before the plane slammed into a clump of trees.

    McCain’s fourth aircraft loss occurred July 29, 1967, soon after he was assigned to the USS Forrestal as an A-4 Skyhawk pilot. While seated in the cockpit of his aircraft waiting his turn for takeoff, an accidently fired rocket slammed into McCain’s plane. He escaped from the burning aircraft, but the explosions that followed killed 134 sailors, destroyed at least 20 aircraft, and threatened to sink the ship.

    McCain’s fifth loss happened during his 23rd mission over North Vietnam on Oct. 26, 1967, when McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. McCain ejected from the plane breaking both arms and a leg in the process and subsequently parachuted into Truc Bach Lake near Hanoi.

    http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnmccain.com/cin_mccain_lost_five_u.htm

    Incidentally, is the fellow still on steroids? And what is his position on viagara?

    Persons sitting in darkness want to know.

  33. At the very least McCain seems a Joe Btfsplk.

    Ah well, profound incompetence is the ticket. Does it matter much how one gets there–working at it or by pure good luck–as long as one makes the grade and rises to the highest rung of the national political elite.

  34. If it weren’t for the strength of your “black/white” argument, I would have written you off as an idiot.

  35. McCain didn’t cause the Forrestal fire, and George’s post falsely says that he did. That’s what’s weak.

  36. True. But the violence would continue even after American troops left, so you’re not saying much of anything.

  37. On the contrary: as people, it is our business what happens to other people. I’m not saying we should run around invading other countries, or that we should have done so in Iraq. But I do think we have an obligation to help those in need, and sometimes what people need is help overthrowing repressive dictators.

  38. “But the violence would continue even after American troops left, ”

    Fewer and smaller bombs though.

  39. .
    (Concealed Presents)
    .
    President John McCain: No Cuntry for Old Men
    .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEkEtWzvT0s
    .
    .

  40. No of this justified the invasion.

  41. What I am SAYING is that AMERICANS are going to continue to die. The withdrawal of AMERICANS from Iraq will save AMERICAN lives. If the various peoples who comprise the artificial non-historic ‘state’ of Iraq want to continue killing each other so be it. We should leave now.

  42. First, Weston can’t possibly prove that violence at current levels would continue after American troops leave. The future can’t be predicted.

    Second, it’s pretty obvious that the levels of violence in Iraq have been greater since March, 2003, than they were in the immediately preceding time.

    Finally, withdrawing troops will relieve Americans of the moral responsibility for whatever level of violence ensues. Unfortunately, nothing will ever lift from us the guilt and international shame ensuing from our invasion and occupation of Iraq 2003-2008.

  43. Why isn’t anyone talking about McCain’s assault on the family member of a Vietnam-era MIA, in the hall outside of his D.C. Senate office?

    It was witnessed by about 12 people and they filed a Senate ethics complaint against McCain.

    Here’s the video of one of the witnesses testifying, plus some more info that I received about the allegations against McCain:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1AWeZrdxfQ

    John McCain assaulted Jeannette Jenkins, cousin of an American missing in South Vietnam since May of 1965, by backhanding her against the wall. He then threatened a wheelchair-bound mother by raising his left arm as if to strike her before coming to his senses. He then pushed her wheelchair out of the way and abruptly continued down the hall.

    The two speakers are Eleanor Apodaca, sister of a Vietnam War MIA, and Carol Hrdlicka, wife of a USAF pilot shot down in 1965. Photos demonstrate that Hrdlicka’s husband was held in CAPTIVITY, yet he never returned after the war. She details her long experience with John McCain’s betrayal of trust.

    To view McCain’s rude and antagonistic attack against Delores Alfond, Chairperson of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Missing, at the Senate Select Committee for POW/MIA Affairs in November 1992 please see the YouTube link below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CazKanlYDg

  44. Should the US have been invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union in the let say in the forties ,fifties.sixties, or before for the opperssion and mistreatment of the black people.How many White – Americans would hvae welcomed that!?

    In or around 1953,the US helped overthrow an elected government in Iran and brought a represive regime.In central,and south America many “repressive dictators” were brought to power by the US than helping the people of those nations.

    It is time to overthrow the idea of American expetionalism that some still kling to.

  45. How do you know that, my dear fellow?

    Are you an expert on missiles “accidentally” firing on aircraft carriers?

  46. We were told this the American presence in south east Asia before.Represive regimes,in the middle East,will fall when they longer can count on the US support.

  47. We were told this about the American presence in south east Asia before.Represive regimes,in the middle East,will fall when they no longer can count on the US support.

  48. The unintelligent have the habit of transforming the rest of the world into terms they themselves can understand.

    It is all the worse when they have a light patina of “education” and use it to sit in judgment of whole worlds that they have no experience whatever in.

    One has no idea what Weston’s chronological age is, but from what appears here, Weston is young, naive, impressed with his own shoddy, very contemporary and rhetorical understanding of logic and argument, an ideologue, and ultimately sophistic.

    The pattern is also seen among the Neo-Cons.

  49. Here is an incident in which exhaust ignited a rocket:

    The cause of the accident was an aircraft handler who left the tow bar in the wrong spot. So when the Huffer (a small jet turbine used to start the aircraft engines) was brought in to start the engines, it could not be placed correctly. The exhaust from the Huffer heated up a rocket warhead. Then it cooked it off.

    The ENTERPRISE lost 50 yards of her flight deck due to the explosion of rockets, bombs and 20 millimeter ammunition. It took 40 minutes to bring the fire under control.

    [tripod.com/~ffhiker/index-7.html]

    Apparently the fellow who misplaced the tow bar was not an admiral’s son and grandson.

    At any rate, the official “cause” of the rocket firing on the USS Forrestal is apparently listed as “shortcircuit.”

    Care to give the word the benefit of your expertise, Weston? Certainly the whole subject seems worthy of extensive discussion, as is also McCain’s flight record and his POW time.

  50. I didn’t claim that it did.

  51. Well, I didn’t say I was able to prove that the violence would continue at current levels. On the other hand, no one here is able to prove that the violence would decrease after American troops left.

    Of course the violence levels in Iraq are higher than they were prior to the invasion. That’s why the invasion was such a stupid idea in the first place.

    On the other hand, if withdrawing American troops would directly result in an increase in the level of violence in Iraq, we would be responsible for that.

  52. If, I repeat, IF we could save more lives by continuing the occupation than by withdrawing, then we ought to stay. Whether the lives lost or saved are American or Iraqi makes no difference.

  53. hilariously hypocritical

  54. Would it make a difference if it was YOUR life buddy? Are you serving in Iraq? Or are you a chickenhawk?

  55. Huh. Well, I don’t recall defending American exceptionalism. I also don’t recall defending the coup in Iran. For that matter, whether white Americans would or would not have ‘welcomed’ foreign intervention is beside the point. If the injustice perpetrated against black Americans had reached a level of egregiousness that the benefits of intervention would have outweighed the harms, then perhaps such intervention would have been justified. Of course, if it had been the Soviet Union attempting to intervene, it probably would have started a nuclear war, so in that case the costs would have outweighed the benefits.

  56. Well, ‘buddy,’ obviously I’d rather someone else be dead than me. But I don’t think my life is more valuable than anyone else’s, so even given my preference for staying alive, I think I’d be doing something wrong if I allowed two people to die in my place. Now, I don’t think anyone has the right to force me to risk my life for others. But if I had volunteered to serve in the military, knowing full well that I might be required to do exactly that, I don’t think I could hold it against my leaders if they told me to do so.

    For that matter, unless you’re saying that only present and past members of the military have the right to hold and express policy opinions on Iraq, I suggest you keep your insults to yourself.

  57. “He [Hussein] kept his country together through systematic repression, fear, and violence. His ‘opportunism’ resulted in nearly half a million unnecessary casualties, and unless you think modern Iraq is the reincarnation of the Ottoman Empire, Kuwait had as much or more right to independence in 1990 as Iraq did in 2003. Whatever ‘toleration’ an‘diversity’ flourished under Saddam did so only because his rule depended on their mutual support, but also on their animosity towards one another”

    You will notice the seeming contradiction above–”systematic repression, fear, violence” but admitted “toleration” and “diversity” explained away as depending on “mutual support”.

    Perhaps you might wish to research Hussein’s rural electrification program, just for one example, and contrast it with what Bush and Cheney and their “Coalition” have done for Iraq. Or compare Hussein’s rule of Iraq with the British in the days when Churchill was glorying in the “terror” (his word) of poison gas used against Iraqi peasants to good effect.

    Have you ever talked with Assyrian Christians who lived under Hussein?

    Your ignorance is stunning, as is your facile and imbecilic use of what is “reasonable” hinging on what is “deplored”.

    Very young intellectually indeed, and very naive–not doubt with kneejerk moral and ethical judgment and authority on everything under the sun.

    There was good and bad about Hussein from the perspective of what benefited Iraq and Iraqis. One doubts the same can be said bout the British or the Americans.

    In the case of the latter, indeed, demonizing Hussein, as they did with Kuwaiti connivance before the First Gulf War, seems to be the extent of their analysis.

    This is an old pattern. Create a demon, then overthrow him–is that not the alpha and omega of what “good” the Americans have done in Mesopotamia?

    Weston’s moral judgments, naturally, are unerring.

    At any rate, the elder Bush and the Americans were close sponsors and allies of Hussein for a time, were they not? As they also were of “Osama Bin Ladin”, whoever and whatever he happens to be.

    Isn’t it strange that this latter “group” attacked the World Trade Center, supposedly, not once but twice?

  58. In fact I would love that.

  59. Another Neo-Con cryptotype–all the American military in Iraq “volunteered”.

    Did they?

    The ambiguity is key–”volunteered” for what?

    Then of course there are the myriads of private contractors (also known as mercenaries) whose dead body count is not even made public, save scantily by the Labor Department when their families try to collect death benefits.

    It is, merely by the way, increasingly fashionable among Neo-Cons to deplore invading Iraq as a “mistake” (which it was). After all, the intended damage has been done, the Likud is satisfied with the chaos and is trying to cozy up to the Kurds, and Iran is next at bat.

    The real hilarity is the recent hint that Israel is now advertising itself as the new potential protector of “Sunnis” like the Saudis against the same Iran.

    Meanwhile are the same Israelis by any chance now playing oil futures and building up a new reserve Euros? Announcing one drill, making one threat against Iran, if one has not noticed, produces a predictable spike in oil prices. Ah yes, the SEC is on the case.

    The money rolls in and life is good.

    What harm in admitting the “mistake” and as long as they secure the next and bigger one?

  60. No, that’s right. Not everybody serving volunteered; some were unfairly pressured or coerced into joining by social and economic circumstances, and others are being held hostage by the stop-loss program. But, first, I doubt that those conditions describe most American troops in Iraq. Second, I should revise my original claim: I think that there are circumstances under which I could be justifiably coerced to risk my life, but I think those cases are limited to when the risk to my life is outweighed by enormous potential benefits.

    BTW, I’m not a neo-con, at least not in any conventional sense. I was opposed to the invasion since before it began, I don’t agree with the Bush Doctrine of preventive war, I don’t believe in American exceptionalism, I don’t think the US is doing nearly enough to pressure Israel into giving up its occupied territory, and so on and so forth. But I’m not an isolationist, a libertarian, or a pacifist, either. We have obligations to people beyond our borders. Sometimes those obligations might include going to war. I don’t think we should have gone to war in Iraq, but that’s a different, and much easier question than whether we should leave.

  61. Not necessarily fewer.

  62. Sigh. Bill said that the “Ba’ath Party contained Sunni, Shia and Christians,” as if including a variety of ethnic and religious groups in the government warrants praise regardless of Saddam’s motive in doing so. The scare quotes around ‘toleration’ and ‘diversity’ were intended to signal my skepticism regarding this uncritical attitude towards inclusiveness. Saddam’s primary motive for this inclusiveness was, quite transparently, to get a foothold among various demographics so as to facilitate the identification, surveillance, and occasional kidnapping, torture, and murder of dissidents. That’s a fairly standard blueprint for totalitarianism, and it’s entirely consistent with non-discriminatory practices towards various ethnic and religious groups. The alleged contradiction is merely ‘seeming.’ For that matter, systematic repression, fear, and violence are also compatible with public works programs, like rural electrification and the like.

    None of that is to make the comparative claim that Iraqis were better off under British or American rule. We don’t need to glorify Saddam, or even paint him as anything more than a petty–if successful–dictator, in order to criticize British or American imperialism. At any rate, comparisons between individual assholes like Saddam and Bush are as inconsequential as they are futile.

  63. The US has intervened in so many countries under the guise of fighithing repressive regimes so many times however, the outcome turned out to be worse than the prevealing condtions.And why is it Americans obligation to help to help people overthrow repressive dictators?And which dictators should”we” help other people overthrow,the ones “we” choose as friends or the ones “we” decide to turn into enemies?The point I was making previously is that people not matter who they are wouldn’t like their country invaded and occupied under any reason.

    “I’m not saying we should run around invading other countries, or that we should have done so in Iraq.”.But this exactly what has been happenning because many Americans believed it was their obligation to do so in order to save the people of other countrie.But they would claim that they did not say this or that when the results turn bad.

  64. We, the Salt of the Earth, Take Precedence:

    “The indifference of Americans to others flows from “American exceptionalism,” the belief that Americans are graced with a special mission to impose their virtue on the rest of the world. Like the French revolutionaries, Americans don’t seem to care how many people they kill in the process of spreading their exceptionalism.

    American exceptionalism has swelled Americans’ heads, filling them with hubris and self-righteousness and making Americans believe that they are the salt of the earth”

  65. “If I had volunteered”,,, There it is CHICKENHAWK! By the way jobless naive teenagers in rural America don’t appreciate what they are getting into when they sign up.

  66. Oh, poor Weston–sigh–of the X-ray eyes. “Motives”, especially of folks like Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath, are so transparent to her. And, of course, in Weston’s world, “motives” explain “all”, don’t they?

    Can the “we”, my dear young lady.

  67. The amount of damage inflicted upon Iraq by the American intervention, directly and indirectly, is astounding, including the civilian casualties and the destruction of infrastructure.

    And all this under the prophasis of saving Iraqis from Saddam Hussein?

    The Americans do not even have small inkling of the consequences, for themselves and others.

    In addition none of it was in US self-interest.

    So not only is it a monstrous crime, it is also a monstrous blunder.

    Mesopotamia will heal, as it has always done. The United States, short of a dramatic and open reversal on the world state, will not.

    In addition to his tendency toward Narcissism, Saddam Hussein’s fatal mistake was assuming that the Americans would conduct their foreign policy in the United States’ interest.

    The way out for the United States in the world is impeachment and charging the “leadership” that engineered this catastrophe with war crimes (and other crimes as well).

    Don’t have the stomach or the will for that?

    End of discussion about “realistic” ways out.

    At some point even two centuries of systematic hypocrisy engrained on the national consciousness becomes insufficient to sustain the mythos.

    Very seldom does one consider the personal of much significance in relation to analysis of, say, foreign policy or economics. But now and then a particular event, though idiosyncratic, takes on the status of a sign.

    During the American attack on Yugoslavia, which was as vicious and stupid as the attack on Iraq, if on a much smaller scale, one ran into a stray Croat saying something to the effect, “Even the Serbs don’t deserve this.”

    What that was a sign of is apparently beyond most Americans to comprehend.

    As the terminally incompetent American elite continues to lead the US into final catastrophe, whether it takes a year or ten or twenty, short of the American people at some point taking responsibility for the viciousness and stupidity of their own leadership, and holding them accountable, there is very little to discuss.

  68. corr: “on the world stage“.

  69. There will never be peace in the middle east until we leave. Thank God McCains chances to be elected are minimal. He is by far the dumbest candidate in my fairly long lifetime.

  70. A military debacle would be a blessing in disguise compared to occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, constantly policing, monitoring and alternately bombing Iran, going after Syria, trying to influence who runs Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, bribing the Pakistanis to behave against their own best interest ( look at the map, in any less than victorious confrontation w/India they only have one direction to run in )..etc…Yes, the belligerent Bush foreign policy crashing and burning would actually be better…Maybe then we can give up this empire crap and just go back to being a normal country again! Which is what any sane conservative looked forward to after the dissolution of the USSR.
    McCain is the worst..It’s especially annoying when that agent of a foreign govt ( Lieberman ) is right behind his shoulder, whispering in his ear like a serpent. Oh yeah, McCain’s daddy helped cover-up the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.

  71. Are you twelve? Not having served in the military doesn’t disqualify my opinion, and if you bothered to check, you’d see that many in the armed services, including plenty of soldiers on the ground, agree with my views. At any rate, many of them would take issue with your implication that we should get out of Iraq simply because their lives are at stake. You assume that they’re cowards, and they’re not.

  72. Downfall by self-righteousness and hypocrisy. It happens more often than those without broad and deep acquaintance with past and present, and with clear-headed intelligence, training, and penetration to understand what is transpiring before their eyes, may suspect. And also often–much more quickly than in their wildest nightmares.

  73. Are we writing off inferences to the best explanation as X-ray vision? Because if we are, we’re going to have to revisit your absurd defense of George’s accusation that McCain started the Forrestal fire. Oh, poor Eugene of the double standard. Hume has a passage about you:

    “Disputes with men, pertinaciously obstinate in their principles, are, of all others, the most irksome; except, perhaps, those with persons, entirely disingenuous, who really do not believe the opinions they defend, but engage in the controversy from affectation, from a spirit of opposition, or from a desire of showing wit and ingenuity superior to the rest of mankind. The same blind adherence to their own arguments is to be expected in both; the same contempt of their antagonists; and the same passionate vehemence, in inforcing sophistry and falsehood. And as reasoning is not the source, whence either disputant derives his tenets; it is in vain to expect, that any logic, which speaks not to the affections, will ever engage him to embrace sounder principles.”

    If you want to believe that Saddam ran the Baath party the way he did because deep down he was just a good guy, one whose plans just accidentally wound up oppressing millions, then go right ahead. Obviously, we don’t *know* what went on in his head (which is compatible with having very good reason to *believe* he wasn’t a good guy), which is why I wrote that comparisons between individuals is futile. But regardless of what went on in his head, his actions resulted too often in misery and death. And that’s why I think such comparisons are of little consequence.

  74. “We have obligations to people beyond our borders.” No, we don’t, at least not in the way you mean. Our government is not free to tax us or send us to fight anywhere unless it’s in our own self-defense. This restriction also covers our volunteer army, otherwise it’s merely a mercenary bunch any loon in the White House could use at his whim.

    There’s arguably an individual moral obligation to help others, if we can, e.g., the Lincoln Brigade volunteers in the Spanish Civil war. But the feds have no authority–none–to send Americans off to fight in any war that is aggressive.

  75. R. Nelson,

    I appreciate your point, and I’m not sure of my legal footing here. But I’m happy to argue that certain collective entities like states and corporations also have moral obligations. If the US Constitution or other legal mechanisms prohibit the United States from doing what it is morally required to do, then they should be changed, and if they can’t be changed, they can be justifiably ignored.

  76. The X-Ray vision refers to your seemingly insufferable moral certitude about the imperfection of others but not yourself, or, for that matter about the vicious and murderous American presence in Iraq, and, increasingly, in Afghanistan.

    One has no idea what occurred on the Forrestal. Do you?

    Simply because you call this or that “weak”, without facts or context, is not sufficient for anyone else necessarily or for the rest of the world.

    Your “we” has no import, especially ethically and morally, or in regard to your precious sense of “belief”.

    Revisit whatever you like.

    End of discussion.

  77. It is also mildly amusing that Ms. Weston quotes Hume, referring to a passage that applies most aptly to herself, and at the same time so easily and so often refers to the “cause” of this and that.

    She is obviously as familiar with Hume as with the history of Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath in Iraq.

    The contradictory and affective nature of her feeling and sensibility, the emptiness of her logic, and also its arbitrariness and false certitude, now become clear. And one has seen enough now to guess what chaos and confusion is behind it.

  78. Napoleon: No, because the English are a race apart. No Englishman
    is too low to have scruples: no Englishman is high enough to be
    free from their tyranny. But every Englishman is born with a
    certain miraculous power that makes him master of the world. When
    he wants a thing, he never tells himself that he wants it. He
    waits patiently until there comes into his mind, no one knows
    how, a burning conviction that it is his moral and religious duty
    to conquer those who have got the thing he wants. Then he becomes
    irresistible. Like the aristocrat, he does what pleases him and
    grabs what he wants: like the shopkeeper, he pursues his purpose
    with the industry and steadfastness that come from strong
    religious conviction and deep sense of moral responsibility. He
    is never at a loss for an effective moral attitude. As the great
    champion of freedom and national independence, he conquers and
    annexes half the world, and calls it Colonization. When he wants
    a new market for his adulterated Manchester goods, he sends
    a missionary to teach the natives the gospel of peace. The
    natives kill the missionary: he flies to arms in defence of
    Christianity; fights for it; conquers for it; and takes the
    market as a reward from heaven. In defence of his island shores,
    he puts a chaplain on board his ship; nails a flag with a cross
    on it to his top-gallant mast; and sails to the ends of the
    earth, sinking, burning and destroying all who dispute the empire
    of the seas with him. He boasts that a slave is free the moment
    his foot touches British soil; and he sells the children of his
    poor at six years of age to work under the lash in his factories
    for sixteen hours a day. He makes two revolutions, and then
    declares war on our one in the name of law and order. There is
    nothing so bad or so good that you will not find Englishmen doing
    it; but you will never find an Englishman in the wrong. He does
    everything on principle. He fights you on patriotic principles;
    he robs you on business principles; he enslaves you on imperial
    principles; he bullies you on manly principles; he supports his
    king on loyal principles, and cuts off his king’s head on
    republican principles. His watchword is always duty; and he
    never forgets that the nation which lets its duty get on the
    opposite side to its interest is lost. He–

    LADY. W-w-w-w-w-wh! Do stop a moment. I want to know how you make
    me out to be English at this rate.

    NAPOLEON (dropping his rhetorical style). It’s plain enough. You
    wanted some letters that belonged to me. You have spent the
    morning in stealing them–yes, stealing them, by highway robbery.
    And you have spent the afternoon in putting me in the wrong about
    them–in assuming that it was I who wanted to steal YOUR
    letters–in explaining that it all came about through my meanness
    and selfishness, and your goodness, your devotion, your
    self-sacrifice. That’s English.

    George Bernard Shaw

  79. Americans elected George Bush twice.He hnandly beats McCain in that regard.So do not be surprised that McCain might be elected!

  80. “We have obligations to people beyond our borders”,,, WRONG!!!! NO WE DO NOT!! The only legitimate purpose of the U.S. military should be to defend the lives of Americans and the territorial integrity of the United States. The last thing Americans need is another Wilsonian crusade.

  81. Brilliant post. Yes, the US will leave Iraq eventually…in fact, I’m pretty sure even the most conservative American would agree with that. Last time I checked we aren’t there to conquer the Middle East…so yes, some day we will leave. Thank you for reminding us all of that fact though.
    And by the way, the insurgents came to be to target their own government…not the US. Check out the definition of an insurgency and read a bit on the political situation over there.

  82. I’m amazed at how much time and energy you all put into these blogs. Do they ever accomplish anything? Change anything? Improve anyone’s life?
    With as many effective ways as there are to actually positively influence our world…reading all of this purposeless ranting is truly sad.
    Or do you all just enjoy complaining far too much?

  83. Below, I conceded your point that many US soldiers in Iraq did not volunteer. Below, I’ve also revised one of my positions in light of discussion with other people. That is enough to refute your claims about my alleged moral certitude about my own perfection. When have you ever admitted to defects in your reasoning in any of these comments threads? Or is it your moral certitude, and not mine, that stinks to high heaven?

    The fact that no one–or at any rate, no one posting on this blog–knows exactly what happened on the Forrestal. This is why I said that George’s claim about McCain was false. I concede that I don’t know for certain that this claim was false; on the other hand, George’s willingness to make accusations in the face of his own ignorance should have garnered your ire much faster than my flip rebuttal. And yet, you actually defended George’s claim by saying simply, “Well it coulda happened that way!” It also might not have happened that way, of ye of the double standard.

    And, although this is so obvious it shouldn’t even need to be said, my quoting Hume’s especially appropriate passage about stubborn jerks and trolls to you does not commit me to his views on causation, dur, and for you to say otherwise betrays a stunning lack of either intelligence or scruples–which is what made the quote appropriate for you in the first place.

    “End of discussion” indeed, you imperious fool.

  84. Says you. Oh wait, I forgot who I’m talking to. Says YOU!!! Try giving me an argument, not just an assertion.

  85. Yes, it amazes me how many people in the US – both Govt. and “sheep” fail to understand that the cost of oil should be calculated with US military expenses factored in. US Army, being an army of Empire is expensive. The wonderful law of war is that the “just” war costs many times less then the war of aggression. There is really no need to “pay” to somebody who protects his home. But to steal items from other people costs. It costs more then to do trade with them as a matter of fact.

    So, it’s amazing to see how in little over 200 years the US have turned into its opposite – being worse then the British Empire of 1776. And the future is predictable – some country that has somewhat better moral grounds. Russia is good candidate – it’s very far from idealistic, but being – well – essentially another half of the Cold War “alliance” of US/USSR is in the position to make that simple conclusion – Wars of Aggression do not pay, they only seem to pay in the short run, but they give nothing in the middle range, and they result in disaster for the party that initiates them in the long run – always. There are simply no exceptions.

    Is there anybody in the US who thinks that converting US Army to draft would improve its performance? If that was true, we would still live under the political and economic model of Roman Empire and Ancient Egypt. Even 2000 years ago China’s model was more progressive then what USA had become.

    Very, very sad, for my generation. Those who sell their freedom end up slaves indeed.

    And this is the result of infusion of 3rd world people (be it genetics or mentality, that I’m not sure about). I think that only white, Nordic nations have any chance to live in freedom. South (warm climate) results in slavery. Better living conditions, easier way of life – turns people into slaves. So – global warming is bad indeed.

  86. I’m reminded of the writing on the bathroom wall which condemned bathroom graffiti.

  87. The war in Iraq is largely Vietnam all over again. We did it again because we have not discarded our national vanity, the notion that we are better than everyone else, that we can solve others’ problems (though not our own), and that violence is the way to solve problems. Probably only economic collapse and the consequent inability to live up to our vanity will stop us.

  88. The American people are too vain to admit that the war is a defeat and will keep on fighting till they can persuade themselves that they really won.

  89. Too true.

  90. Well, as my commanding officer once told me, you don’t have to be smart to be a Naval aviator; you just have to have balls that drag on the ground. This may be useful in a fighter, but a leader needs to be smart as well as brave.

  91. Writing here make us feel better. There’s little else we can do. Don’t talk about another Revolution; serious revolutionaries don’t broadcast their plans on the Net for the authorities to read. Anyway, the likelihood of a “People Power Revolution” in the US, like the one that forced out Ferdinand Marcos, is extremely unlikely. If it did happen and forced Bush or McCain or someone to resign, flee to Paraguay, well, society would not change, and probably Tweedledum would replace Tweedledee. Maybe King Stork would replace King Log.

  92. There might come time that even writing would be a crime,and the government is worshiped like a god.

  93. In many ways, the latter is already the case. “Statolatry” is a very apt characterization of the political atmosphere in America.

  94. That’s right! Amen to that. I am a believer in American exceptionalism. As well as French, British, Australian, Canadian, German, and Italian. In other words, the CIVILIZED WORLD. No we should not kill anyone or force them to accept our values but why can’t we believe our nation and way of live is special? I don’t care. Call me jingoistic, ethno-centric, whatever you want. But yes. I do believe in American exceptionalism. What was that saying in the comic books about Superman? Oh yes, something about fighting for truth justice and the AMERICAN way.

  95. Right on target–the most violent, revolutionary, and disruptive faction in the present milieu is that of the Neo-Conservatives, their Zionist Born Again Theocrats, and their Corporate Fascist sponsors.

    What chance do Constutionalists, left or right have, againt such a combine?

    For the rest, a staid and traditionalist approach, saving what little one may saved of liberty and freedom, however paltry, and in the mold of, say, the quietism and resignation of Franklin or Jefferson is the only sensible course.

    Not to forget John Hancock either, whose forte was trade.

    As few who have not studied the American War of Independence may realize, none of these wanted a fight, but bent over backwards for decades to preserve the umbilical cord with their beloved mother, Great Britain.

    No doubt had any of these lived nowadays, the blessings and prosperity of the present regime, with its streets paved with gold and its vast armies overseas, all without even a hint of the hated name “Rex”–all that would have doubtless enforced the Founders’ congenital urges toward peace and quiet and accomodation.

    One leaves the vanity of a well-publicized “revolution” by law-abiding citizens to the followers of that inimitable firebrand and hothead, Congressman Ron Paul.

    There–doesn’t everyone feel better now, even the self-described “soldier” who rightly sees all–each and every, with no exceptions–all change, I say, all accomplishment as activity, and the rest purposeless complaint and rant.

    The sword is always mightier–always, I say-that is the history of the world, even of the French Revolution.

    Empty words and ideas count for nothing, as tongue-tied Mao himself had it, compared to the barrel of a government gun.

  96. Apt coinage. The ancient Greeks had no “state” at all in the modern sense, but rather a polis, and even in the Hellenistic period, which includes the Roman Republic and Empire, it was also else than “state” if one is exact. For all that your neologism is pungent and to the point.

  97. One could not agree more. A grateful nation accepts your bond, and drapes you with the blessed (two syllables) Stars and Stripes, horsed on the mighty steed of Virtue, the Grand Exception, distilled essence of Civilization–anointed you go, forward against the Evil Wahabis, go–go–go–don’t look back–a mighty nation, every ounce of its blood and treasure and gasoline, is behind you–lead, lead the benighted hordes against the Satanic Sunnite Wahabist Soviet Communist Arabs of Iran, of Pakistan, of Indonesia, of the Philippines, of Albania….(Albania?…Chechnya?) No matter–onward….

  98. I’m afraid I can’t claim credit for it. I encountered it in one or another libertarian source and thought it captured the essence of much of modern politics excellently.

  99. Great article!

  100. Ho pensato che sarebbe stato noioso alcuni post vecchi, ma in realtà compensato per il mio tempo. Io posto un link a questa pagina sul mio blog. Sono sicuro che i miei visitatori troveranno che molto utile.

  101. Je suis vraiment plaisir à lire vos articles bien écrits. Il semble que vous passez beaucoup d'efforts et de temps sur votre blog. J'ai signet et je suis impatient de lire de nouveaux articles. Continuez votre bon travail!

  102. Ceci est ma première fois que je visite ici. J'ai trouvé tellement de choses intéressantesdans votre blog, en particulier sa discussion. Du tonnes de commentaires sur vos articles,je suppose que je ne suis pas le seul à avoir tout le plaisir ici! Continuez votre excellent travail.