Monday, April 2, 2007

Maverick McCain visits peaceful Baghdad

That old straight-talker Maverick McCain has been blowing smoke lately about how safe things are getting in Baghdad thanks to the success of the McCain escalation, aka, The Surge. The Maverick himself visited Baghdad over the weekend. With massive security provided by US soldiers, he was able to walk around parts of Baghdad. Juan Cole reports in an Informed Comment blog post of 04/02/07:

Look, I lived in the midst of a civil war in the late 1970s in Beirut. I know exactly what it looks and smells like. The inexperienced often assume that when a guerrilla war or a civil war is going on, life grinds to a standstill. Not so. People go shopping for food. They drive where they need to go as long as they don't hear that there is a firefight in that area. They go to work if they still have work. Life goes on. It is just that, unexpectedly, a mortar shell might land near you. Or the person ahead of you in line outside the bakery might fall dead, victim of a sniper's bullet. The bazaars are bustling some days (all the moreso because it is good to stock up on supplies the days when the violence isn't so bad). So nothing that John McCain saw in Baghdad on Sunday meant a damn thing. Not a goddamn thing.

It makes my blood boil.
This is really the secret behind the war fans' endless claims of "good news". Yeah, even in a country being devastated by civil war and insurrection, you can find moments of calm and seeming normalcy. But that doesn't mean it's "good news" for the overall political and military objective. It's how many moments of attacks and explosions are shattering the moments of normalcy and the political significance of the attacks that make a difference for the war effort.

Cole also reminds us of what the Maverick's fakery means:

Because McCain, you see, knows exactly what I know about guerrilla wars and civil wars. Hell, people used to shop freely in Saigon in the early 1970s! And if he is saying what he is saying [, it is because he is attempting to convey an overly optimistic picture with which to deceive the American public.

The deception will get even more of our young men and women in uniform blown up, at a time when their mission has become murky and undefined. If the American public sacrifices the lives of the troops with their eyes open, for what they see as the sake of the security of the United States, then the loss of life is regrettable but the mission is clear, defined, and has public support. But if the American public is lied to and only thinks a mission is being accomplished as a result, then the sacrifice of soldiers' lives is monstrous. The Iraq War has become monstrous in this way. And John McCain, whom I had long respected as a straight shooter, has now been seduced into playing illusionist with the lives of our troops.
I guess there was a time when I bought the "straight shooter" hype about the great Maverick, too. But how people like the Maverick have responded to the Iraq War, the torture policy and Cheney's Unilateral Executive theory of Presidential lawlessness has told us a lot about people who might one have been more easily mistaken for "independent-minded" or "moderate" Republicans.

You can read a report on the Maverick's jive talk on the Iraq War in
McCain lauds security during Baghdad visit 04/02/07.

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