Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bush the Third

The media is missing the main story again. There’s nothing wrong with the story they are getting, the criticism they are making is valid enough, but they are stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.

Asked if, given that the surge is working, McCain now has a better idea of when the troops will be coming home, he replies,
"No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, Americans are in Germany, that’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw. We will be able to withdraw. General Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are. But the key to it is that we don’t want any more Americans in harm’s way."

Certainly the criticism of, “No, but that’s not too important” is a valid one. The remark is insensitive and is demoralizing to the men and women far from home and the military families whose loved ones are separated from them. These families want to know when they will be reunited and, despite McCain’s apparent opinion, they think that the timing of that reunion is very important indeed.

But his answer betrays two disconnects from reality that speak to his fitness to serve in this nation’s highest office and the media, in its haste to “support the troops,” overlooks two serious issues in McCain's response.

The lesser issue is that McCain glibly speaks of leaving our military in this theatre in a casualty-free environment, but offers no method by which this might be accomplished. In two of the three nations he names it was accomplished by formal treaty signed with national leaders of a vanquished nation. That possibility does not exist in Iraq, as the vanquished nation we are occupying is, at least nominally, our ally even as we suffer casualties inflicted by multiple armed organizations who are attempting to drive us out. In the third named instance it was a formally declard stalemete between two governments and our troops there, faced off against more than a million enemy soldiers and hundreds of thousands of artillery pieces, can hardly be said not to be in harm's way.

So, while it may be possible to accomplish the utopian status that he envisions, it seems unlikely at best, and he offers no pathway to that destination, merely states his desire to arrive at it.

The greater issue is, “General Petraeus is going to tell us in July...”

I have always despised those who crave authority and are unwilling to bear the concomitant responsibility. They want the glory but are unwilling to bear the risk. They want to swagger and strut, to receive the praise and bask in the adulation of high office, but they shun the anxiety of decision-making and are unwilling to accept the agony of error. They are as sounding brass, filled with noise and fury, signifying nothing.

George Bush calls himself “The Decider,” yet from the very day that this war in Iraq started to go bad he began deferring to “the generals on the ground.” Every good thing that has happened has been his decision and every bad thing that has happened has been “on the advice of my generals.” George Bush has been saying for months that the schedule for troop withdrawals from Iraq will be decided by General Petraeus.

And now John McCain, “General Petraeus is going to tell us in July...”

How can John McCain claim that he is not running for George W. Bush’s third term as President?

How can any president leave that decision to any general? For two centuries this nation has operated on the fundamental principle that the military is subordinate to civilian leadership. The decision as to the nature of the occupation of another, sovereign nation is a policy decision that is properly made by the civilian leadership of this nation, not by the general commanding the occupying army. George Bush committed a grave breach of national tradition, or worse, when he abdicated that decision to David Petraeus, and John McCain is echoing that policy.

Perceiving the timing of the homecoming of troops as unimportant is in poor taste. Being unaware of the manner in which our nation is properly governed renders McCain unfit for office.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:37 PM

    What part of "Commander-in-Chief" don't they understand? I saw throught that before I was 1/2 way throught the post. Advice is fine, but the CiC makes the decisions, good or bad. Well, micromanaging from the top can be bad, sure - but you set the tone and direction from the top, and certainly the major decisions. We do not want a rudderless boat here.