Archive for the ‘John McCain’ category

Small Hands, Small Man

August 27, 2018

Senator John McCain passed away this weekend following battle with brain cancer.  Tributes have flowed in from both political parties and many countries around the world.  One tribute is missing.  Guess from who?

The man who made small hands famous has now demonstrated that not only his manliness but also his humanity is lacking.  President Donald Trump (make America great again) refused to issue any official government statement praising Senator McCain.

The late Senator McCain, knowing the end was near, asked that there be only two speakers at his funeral.  Both were former Presidents (Bush and Obama).  McCain also requested that President Trump not attend.  Hmmm.

Evidently President Trump sees this request as a personal snub and felt compelled to put his personal feelings ahead of the country’s gratitude to John McCain’s personal service.  Hmmm.

Trapped By Words

January 22, 2018

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump joined other Republicans who heaped criticism upon former President Obama for the existence of ISIS. Joining people like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Trump stressed that the Obama strategic decision to withdraw combat troops from Iraq was a sign of weakness and in a Trump Administration, there would be no weakness.

ISIS, Trump said, was a direct result of Obama’s foreign policy.

After one year as President, I wonder what President Trump thinks? I am not concerned about what he tweets but rather what he really thinks.

ISIS is just another name for al Qaeda or Taliban or Muslim Brotherhood or Hezbollah or Hamas. These radical Islamic groups have existed for many years and represent Muslim factions that seek power and find strict Muslim fundamentalism backed by guns as an effective technique to seize power and hold it.

History has shown that these groups can be held in check only through authoritarian measures.

Had Republicans owned up to George W Bush’s doomed decision to invade and occupy Iraq (and to a lesser extent, President Bush’s decision to allow the morphing of US Afghan foreign policy to nation building), in other words owning up to having opened Pandora’s box in the first place, a far more comprehensive foreign policy might have been found. Alas that did not happen.

So, today the Government finds itself surreptitiously increasing American military presence in Afghanistan and doing the same in Syria and Iraq. The current American posture is ready made for an unforeseen event (like a full scale ambush of US soldiers or an intra-region squabble between Middle East neighbors trapping American forces).

One might cut President Trump a break on this since Pandora’s box is open regardless if Republicans won’t own up. But the President is not going to get any break because he has chosen to side publicly with Israel when common sense would dictate the role of “honest broker”.

What could possibly motivate President Trump to announce moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem?

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq is now woven into the modern Middle East history. For the time being, radical Muslim fundamentalism has access to money and weapons.  There is also plenty of “ugly American” examples which appeal to poor, less educated Arabs and provide the necessary support military units need.

President Trump was, from day 1 of his Administration, trapped by the words of denial by his and other leading Republicans. During President Trump’s first year in office, he has managed to increasingly trap himself (and all of us too).   In a Middle East world where no exit can be seen, cautious words speak louder than foolish ones.

McWho’s Last Ride?

June 17, 2016

Arizona Senator John McCain lashed out yesterday in what only can be characterized as an attempt to convince Arizona voters that the GOP and McCain are still relevant. In a mind boggling mental exercise, McCain connect President Obama to the senseless killings in Orlando’s Pulse night club. McCain blamed ISIS and in turn President Obama for allowing ISIS to form. Hmmm.

McCain and other neoconservatives have previously claimed ISIS is a direct result of the US’ early withdrawal from Iraq. The reasoning goes that when the US ceased combat operations in 2009 a power vacuum was created, and voila, ISIS came to life. Hmmm.

This analysis, while creative, is devoid of any serious consideration. Forget for a moment that there would have been no ISIS on Sadaam Hussein’s watch. Which President invaded and occupied Iraq?  Shame on  GOP former President George W Bush.

Also forget that the Bush Administration negotiated withdrawal terms and declined to agree to US remaining because Iraqi President Malaki wanted “status of forces” terms unacceptable to the US. In other words, withdrawing from Iraq was a deed of the Bush Administration before Obama became President.

And while one is at it, let’s forget about al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all the off-shoots in central and northern Africa. And if extremism is the name of the game, then let’s not overlook Hezbollah and Hamas, who although Shiites still evoke radicalism. In short, extremism in the name of Islam has had no shortage of sources.

McCain’s comments are even more bizarre considering the questionable direct connection of terrorists inspiration and the crime.  McCain’s comments are not helpful in any way.

There is already just as much speculation that the killer was mentally unstable, a woman beater, and possibly unsure of his own sexual orientation which in turn conflicted with his religious training.

If McCain wanted to comment in relevant manner, he might have commented on why military style, high ammunition capacity, weapons are so easily available to anyone.

McCain is caught in a tight reelection race. The sun could be setting on what might be otherwise describe as a distinguished career. With statements like this recent one, McCain is treading on the potential of becoming McWho.

McWho Is Back, Must Be Reelection Time

April 30, 2016

John McCain is running for reelection. This every six year chore manifests itself somewhat like the locust phenomena. McCain conducts himself independently during his term, speaking passionately about Defense Spending and what he sees as wasteful spending. But when election time rolls around, McCain is all about what he thinks his constituents will buy. Hmmm.

This week McCain spoke out again on Syria. By script, the Obama Administration “has it all wrong”. In fact, McCain says President Obama “has no strategy at all”. Red meat for Arizonians?

Like most Republicans, McCain does not want to put troops on the ground. So what does he see as a better strategy?

One misses the point by asking what McCain’s strategy might be. His comments are really meant to remind his constituents how fortunate they are to have someone so in tune with national defense as one of their Senators. Hmmm.

The Middle East (Iraq and Syria right now) represent a slippery slope where a little US military involvement will almost surely lead to more (look how easy it has been to get out of Afghanistan). President Obama has said he would back US support of those Middle East countries that are prepared to help themselves but so far those have been few and far between. Instead, ethnic and sectarian splits combined with an overall intention of fundamentalist Muslim leaders to hold women in second class status have combined to shield Middle East countries from modernity.

I wonder what McCain’s plan to change that might be?

Lindsay’s Gone

December 22, 2015

There is a reason John McCain and Lindsay Graham are seen together so often. In many ways they are cut from the same cloth. Both are career politicians, both are mostly hawkish, both, in comparison to the emerging next generation of GOP leaders, are relatively center right. For reasons that are unclear, Lindsay has been running for the Republican Presidential nomination and on Monday he suspended his campaign.

Graham has said he entered the race in order to inject and emphasize foreign policies concerns. In Graham’s assessment, he has been successful in changing the conversation. (I wonder whether Paris and San Bernardino had anything to do with the uptick in foreign policy discussion?) One might also assume his 1% or less poll numbers might have also influenced his decision. Hmmm.

Think back to the Presidential debates in 2008, and ask yourself whether any of the current GOP candidates can measure up to Mitt Romney’s credentials?  Mitt seemed heads and shoulders ahead of Lindsay in Presidential bearing and would leave the other candidates in his dust too.

But that’s another story.

While Graham considers himself a center right candidate, his hawkish policies were inconsistent with Americas current place in history. The Country no longer sees itself as the world’s policeman and even more to the point, does not see the Middle East as anything but a nuisance.

Remaining militarily strong should not be the question, rather the choice should be why to use our military and how to fund the deployments.

Many Americans are beginning to realize that the military does not represent Americans.  In its current “all volunteer” status, only a few get the chance to fight. Sending other Americans’ children to war for the whims of neoconservatives and aging politicians seems shameful.

Had Lindsay remained in the race I wonder whether he would have backed up his aggressive foreign policy positions with a call for a universal draft and special war taxes so our children and grand children would not have to pay the war bills?   Hmmm.

John And Lindsay

December 9, 2015

Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham are back on the Wall Street Journal op ed pages. I guess they just feel comfortable there. They must feel they are among friends.   Compared to obscurity, maybe writing anything is better than writing nothing. Hmmm.

The two amigos have reaffirmed their view that President Obama has no plan for Iraq and Syria. They, however, do and they are only too willing to share the plan. Here’s what I understand from their op-ed.

Iraq – Focus US special operations personnel on specific engagements as well as perform training of Sunni tribal fighters. McCain and Graham acknowledge that the Iraqi Government does not want large foreign operations taking place in Iraq. I guess John and Lindsay don’t think the Iraqi Shiite Premiere Abadi will take exception to improving the fighting strength of the Sunni faction…

Syria – Here’s where boots on the ground are recommended. The McCain-Graham plan calls for up to 10,000 combat troops working in combination with Allied airpower going directly after ISIS forces. Sound good? This sounds like another invasion of a sovereign country where Iran and Russia are likely to take great exception. Once more, these two GOP hawks are ready to commit other people’s children to war with a plan that can quickly escalate with unlimited unexpected events.

There is no amount of posturing or berating President Obama that can erase the error associated with McCain’s and Graham’s support for President George W Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. For these two apologists, the surge wasn’t large enough and the occupation did not last long enough.

It’s regrettable enough that Americans must listen daily to nonsensical diatribes from Ted Cruse and Donald Trump. Now we must read and listen to two discredited Senators who might do better if they followed the maxim, “better to be seen than heard”.

Paris Attacks – Press and Politician Field Day

November 16, 2015

The cowardly and pathetic terrorist attacks Friday in Paris have once again shocked the modern world. How can young men still in their prime carry out mass shootings and bombings where their own lives are certain to be lost too. Why suicide attacks? Why attacks at all?

In all societies there are mentally deranged people who for a wide range of reasons undertake unprovoked acts of murder and mayhem. These mass killings also end up with the “whys”. Why did he/she do it? Why that victim? What was there to gain? The Paris attacks raise similar questions but the first “why did they do it” is much less uncertain.

Radical Islamic terrorist are responding to attempts to rebuild a caliphate and the Western world has a habit of throwing obstacles in their way. This is like theater of the absurd. A Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, or what ever group follows seek first and foremost economic power for its leadership group. Surprise, surprise, this is about money first.

As in all ancient societies, in the new Caliphate, the average person’s task is to work and contribute money to the leadership group. To help induce the average person to contribute, these radical Islamic groups serve up a brew of harsh, repressive Islam which still promises a great day in “Paradise”, with earthly reminders (like dismemberment, caning, and stoning).  This mix is intended to emphaize  that the Caliphate is the right way.

ISIS is the current top dog in terrorism. Its message falls upon receptive ears around the world wheres some local Muslims find their lot in life less than their neighbors. For reasons unknown, some of these Muslims find ISIS’ message convincing and sign up to “drink the cool aide”. Hence, the West gets “home grown” terrorists.

For the American press, the Paris attacks is another gratuitous event where there is suddenly a large audience awaiting reports on the details. The Paris attacks represents a double win for the press since both Presidential primary races have gone flat with little of interest emanating from the candidates. A little rest from the Trump’s, Bush’s, Clinton’s and Sanders’ would be welcome by readers.

Ah, but not so fast.

The candidates have little sensible to say about fixing the American economy, couldn’t the bluster about what they might do to eradicate ISIS?

Two of the best in terms of beating dead horses, Lindsay Graham and John McCain are making the TV rounds rattling their sabers.

Graham and McCain are still unapologetic about championing the Iraq invasion and occupation made famous by George W Bush. The world, according to these two, is better off today without Saddam Hussein.

On Monday’s talk shows, Graham and McCain have recommended that President Obama should recall former General David Petraeus and ask him to lead our efforts to defeat ISIS. Hmmm.

The lesson which every school child should be taught is that in the event of war, strange and unexpected outcomes usually happen. Hussein was a dangerous dictator surviving in a dangerous area of the world. He used by necessity cruel methods to maintain power but his victims lay within Iraq. Hussein’s removal, like the proverbial genie once the cork was removed, unleashed all sorts of unexpected (but predictable) consequences.

General Petraeus recommended the “surge” which increased the US troop count by 20,000 at a time when the occupation was going poorly.  Soon, however, the level of fighting subsided and the Administration once again declared “mission accomplished”.  Time has shown that simultaneous with the increased troop level, large payments were being made to Sunni militias who suddenly stopped creating problems.  Hmmm.

Stabilizing the Middle East will not be resolved with a silver bullet. Peace will require a comprehensive plan and will take time. What peace efforts do not need is cheap political talk from former “Iraq Invasion and Occupation” apologists.