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The 100 years war and campaign issue

By
March 28, 2008

In a moment he may regret, John McCain did something dangerous for a politician. He spoke the truth. He said we might have to continue a presence in Iraq for 100 years. While honest, thoughtful, historically informed observers would concur with McCain, that rules out the Democrats, who saw a political opportunity and struck.

Howard Dean, leader of the party, did a virtual encore of his famous Iowa howl, so upset was he with the idea. And then the thundering herd of Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and their underlings were soon trampling on every scrap and speck of common sense in the way of demented denouncements.

They deceptively made it sound as if the McCain purpose was ongoing, deadly and very expensive combat when, as he explicitly explained at the time, he was talking about the sort of thing the U.S. military has been doing for the 60 years since World War II, hanging around without troop losses in Europe and Japan to make sure hard-won, peaceful stability was not undone by the multitudinous forces that could lead to new national-security threats.

Through the better part of those 60 years, the Democrats have been in a position to bring the troops home, and have chosen not to, one assumes, because they have understood the chance of unfortunate, even catastrophic consequence. If they are suddenly and sincerely blind to those kinds of risks in the ever-turbulent Middle East, they are little more to be trusted with our destiny than children.

McCain is not a warmonger. He has been there. He has seen it. He has been under fire and tortured in a POW camp, and has not had to make up stories like Hillary Clinton, who was once in a Bosnia war zone and — do I have this right? — had to dodge bullets, bombs, rocks, bricks, dynamite, spitballs, arrows, spears, nuclear blasts and laser fire, apparently from UFOs that were also casting evil spells.

Sorry, I think I got it wrong, but so did she, and the point of noting her wild exaggeration on this particular is that it highlights her exaggeration about her vast experience generally. It is not vast. It amounts to very little. There may be one person among this past year’s crowd of presidential aspirants with less experience than her. That would be Obama.

Neither of them comes close to the experience of McCain, who advocated the so-called Iraqi surge, a strategy that has been working despite preposterous denials of those impatient for a wholesale, unconditional withdrawal. What that plan could mean, for starters, is genocide and use of Iraq as a launching pad for new terrorist strikes.

McCain, too, had a recent gaffe. While in Iraq, he spoke of Iran sending al Qaeda fighters Iraq’s way, when what he meant were other terrorists. But this was a momentary lapse of the kind we all have, a slip of the tongue he immediately corrected, not an oft-repeated tall tale. Even his critics somewhere deep down have to know this is no big deal. They themselves say his worst error in judgment was to support the war to begin with, and we now know that Saddam Hussein was no huge threat, right?

Wrong. We instead know from the recent report of a government-sponsored research organization that Saddam had close links to terrorist groups and we know from a “60 Minutes” interview with an FBI agent that Saddam was looking to reconstitute his WMD program. We know he was a maniacally ambitious man responsible for some 300,000 deaths in his own land, and carefully observant people know something else, too — that owing to this war, there is now the prospect of something profoundly transformative in the Middle East, something that could reduce and ultimately even remove the danger of a protracted, city-obliterating, civilization-endangering conflict with Islamic fascists.

While such an achievement is far from certain, its very real possibility could evaporate into little more than mist if we followed the Clinton-Obama prescription for reckless retreat. We could thus quite easily erase significant gains made at the cost of 4,000 American lives, and it’s not as if meaningful troop reductions won’t be coming our way because of the McCain-advised surge strategy, with, perhaps, some protective forces left behind. There is no need for a scurry strategy, which could give us 100 years of horror.

(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)

2 Responses to The 100 years war and campaign issue

  1. allan r

    March 29, 2008 at 11:42 am

    To compare 100 years in Iraq so non-chalantly to our 60 years in Europe is a huge stretch. The reasons for going to each war is vastly different as are the conditions after “hostilities have ended”. Mr. McCain was being honest about his willingness to stay there regardless of what it cost in lives or money, just as Bush has done. This is a fundamental difference between some of the Democratic nominees and the Republican nominees. Obvisiouly the Republicans still believe that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorist, where as most Democrats realize there are only there fighting because we are there. It is somewhat of an insult to most Middle Eastern Nations and Arab countries for a non-muslim western country such as the U.S. to unilaterally decide to dictate their views into the region. Although we might have been welcome by many Iraqi’s, forcing our will on the populace is more a cause of American hatred than a cure. That hatred only grows and fosters more terrorism, so how can continuing to do it really help. Anyone still believing Iraq was a severe threat to our country is obviously delusional and unwilling to accept the truth that has been repeated over and over these last four years. If that was the case then I suppose we should invade Iran, Korea, Russia, China, and every other country who might consider doing us harm or help any other party who might do us harm. This reasoning (if you can call it reason) is insane and flatly impossible. Our military is not intended as a police force and there is not much hope of us preventing a civil war if the sides themselves choose not to agree. In this case the sooner we leave the sooner they can sort out their situation and get themselves back on their own feet. Our military is overstressed, our economy is out of control, our moral image is devastated, and if you are honest you only have to point your finger to one group of people to give credit where its due for this mess……

  2. Sylvester

    March 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Whereas I understand Mccains outspokenness, I can’t but imagine that it is outright myopia not to see any other solution to the Irak crisis. For a man gunning to rule the world, that said a lot on his ingenuity. Infact I have a verse for him; “I once knew a man beautiful in politics, Whose straight lines caught both right and left at their bends, A pity of late the bush bug bit him, Now he’s sick to death with a No Way Out Syndrome”.