Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq Troika: McCain, Obama and Clinton

by ROBERT FANTINA

Awash in the blood of 4,000 U.S. soldiers and at least 1,000,000 Iraqi men, women and children, Arizona Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain returned from a trip to Iraq and declared “we are succeeding.”

This is the same man who, just a year ago, proclaimed great progress towards peace in Iraq, and proved his point by exploring a popular Shorja marketplace. Yes, surrounded by 100 U.S. soldiers, with rooftop snipers keeping watch and helicopters hovering overhead, Mr. McCain was able to freely walk about the closed marketplace.

During his most recent speech on the topic he further said: “We’re succeeding. I don’t care what anybody says. I’ve seen the facts on the ground.” Similar, one might think, to the facts he saw a year ago from behind his bullet-proof vest.

It is somewhat telling that Mr. McCain said he doesn’t “care what anybody says.” One recalls President Bush, prior to the invasion of Iraq, comparing the crowd of millions of people opposing it to a focus group. He too, it seems, didn’t ‘care what anybody’ said, and look where it got us all.

Like Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain is prone to nonsensical statements. During this same speech, he commented as follows: “I don’t think I would change the strategy now unless General Petraeus recommended it. I think he’s trusted by the American people, the president and by me. And General Petraeus again showed me facts on the ground where the surge is succeeding.” One wonders what indicators the good senator has seen to demonstrate that U.S. citizens trust Mr. Petraeus. Perhaps it is their approval level of his boss, Mr. Bush, which is hovering somewhere around 30%.

The fact that 901 U.S. soldiers died in 2007, the highest number of U.S. military casualties in any year since the start of the war, and coming in the year that began with the much-vaunted ‘surge,’ was not something Mr. McCain saw fit to discuss. But he did offer his listeners a clear picture of how a McCain presidency would handle the war. When asked if he would offer the world a new strategy, he said this: “I’m offering them the record of having objected strenuously to a failed strategy for nearly four years. That I argued against and fought against and said that the secretary of defense of my own party, and my own president, I had no confidence in. That’s how far I went in advocating the new strategy that is succeeding.” For Mr. McCain, as for Mr. Bush, an escalation of the war is a ‘new’ strategy.

The senator was not exactly clear in what ‘we’ are ‘succeeding’ in; he made some mention of Osama bin Laden, still on the loose seven years and two wars after 9/11, and summoned, Bush-style, the specter of al-Qaida somehow gaining control of Iraq and using it as headquarters to destroy the U.S. He neglected to mention that al-Qaida had little or no presence in Iraq prior to the U.S. destruction of the central government of that nation.

One must attempt to glean from Mr. McCain’s vague platitudes what ‘success’ in Iraq means to him. The most powerful country in the world running roughshod over a third world nation, depriving its people of basic services, killing them by the hundreds of thousands, all with an eye to stealing their oil could possible qualify as ‘success’ for Mr. McCain. No thought of the individual, basic human dignity of the U.S.’s victims, no idea of self-governance enters into his twisted equation.

He also did not mention the deaths of 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens, or the destruction of their nation. The flight of over 2,000,000 Iraqis from their homes as a direct result of the U.S. invasion and occupation was also not discussed. He did, of course, mention the U.S. soldiers suffering and dying in Iraq, but side-stepped any comment on the deaths of 4,000 of them. Said he: “I’ve commented on hundreds of occasions of the sacrifice the great and brave young Americans have made in Iraq and elsewhere in the world in the struggle against radical Islamic extremism.” No political speech, by a member of either party, is complete without summoning up the hardships of dedicated soldiers, doing their best in an immoral, imperial war. Discussing the former seems, for some inexplicable reason, to help people forget the latter.

Mr. McCain’s recent trip to the Middle East and Europe was supposed to have highlighted his international expertise, and shown him as ‘presidential.’ Yet the response at home can not have been highly positive, since he is increasingly morphing into the unpopular Mr. Bush, and the reaction abroad could not have been much better as he hopped about various nations where Mr. Bush and the U.S. are hated and resented.

The choice to be offered to the American voter in November is clear, even with the selection of the Democratic nominee still in question. Mr. McCain, the Republican standard-bearer, offers the U.S. and the world more of the same: imperial war, death, carnage. Illinois Senator Barack Obama and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton timidly suggest change: withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but how and when remain important questions. There is not much difference between the latter two and Mr. McCain, but at least Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton talk of change, whereas Mr. McCain wants to emulate President Bush’s tired, used and useless mantra of ‘stay the course.’

What it will take to end U.S. involvement in Iraq can best be suggested by history: ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam only came about as a result of an overwhelming people’s movement that even the imperial president at the time could no longer ignore. Unless and until the country sees a rebirth of that movement, Senators McCain, Obama and Clinton will continue to dance around the truth while Americans and Iraqis die in unspeakable numbers.

 

 

 

 

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail