John McCain: prospective Dux Bellorum

January 10th, 2008
Email This Post  Print This Post  

You didn’t see this on CTV, or even read it in the National Post: U.S. Senator John McCain, invariably presented by mainstream journos as a Republican “maverick”, someone appealing to independent voters because of his “straight talk” and “non-ideological” views, is the archest war hawk in the presidential field of either party.

Where the Democratic contenders continue to bleat incomprehensibly about “change” even as they regurgitate reverent incantations over 70-year-old Rooseveltian policies, McCain knows what it’s all about for him.

Here’s what he had to say in his victory speech at the New Hampshire primary the other night:

In a time of war, and the terrible sacrifices it entails, the promise of a better future is not always clear. But I promise you, my friends, we face no enemy, no matter how cruel; and no challenge, no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism and determination of Americans. We are the makers of history, not its victims. And as we confront this enemy, the people privileged to serve in public office should not evade our mutual responsibility to defeat them because we are more concerned with personal or partisan ambition. Whatever the differences between us, so much more should unite us. And nothing should unite us more closely than the imperative of defeating an enemy who despises us, our values and modernity itself. We must all pull together in this critical hour and proclaim that the history of the world will not be determined by this unpardonable foe, but by the aspirations, ideals, faith and courage of free people. In this great, historic task, we will never surrender. They will. [emphasis added]

McCain, one of whose sons is a Marine currently stationed in Iraq, never wavered in his belief that the war in Iraq had to be won. Even after the November 2006 mid-term election results, when President George W. Bush’s new counterinsurgency (“surge”) strategy was being jeered by Republicans almost as loudly as Democrats, McCain continued to proclaim that the objective of the Iraq war was simple: victory, not withdrawal.

McCain was one of the few politicians to recognize that, though there might be much to criticize about the decision to invade Iraq and about the conduct of the war thereafter, it was a monumental non sequitur – on the level of world-scale strategic catastrophe – to claim that bungled prosecution of a war demanded instantaneous abandonment of the entire project and wholesale retreat regardless of consequences.

During that nadir of public commitment to the war, McCain stated openly that he would rather lose a presidential race or any type of election than surrender his conviction. I must admit, being one of about eight Canadians holding this view, I drew considerable strength from his fortitude (or mulish stubbornness).

But he was right. As this item from the Stratfor 2008 Forecast (members only, I scalped it from this item on the Belmont Club) points out:

First, the U.S.-jihadist war is entering its final phase; the destruction of al Qaeda’s strategic capabilities now allows the United States to shift its posture — which includes leveraging the Sunni world to finish the job begun in Iraq — and enables Washington to begin drawing down its Middle Eastern forces. [emphasis added]

Notice the style of the wording surrounding Al Qaeda’s condition: no longer is the terror group’s possible defeat worded as some outlandish claim in which the writer reveals awareness of clearly going out on a limb. Instead it’s mentioned casually, almost en passant – a fact now accepted by anyone well-informed about the war.

And representing a stunning military achievement. As we speak, U.S. and Iraqi forces are going after Al Qaeda’s last significant sanctuary in Iraq. Again, not what you see on CTV or even read in the Post.

On our own, speck-of-sand level in this blog, we also refused to surrender our belief that the war, once joined, had to be seen through lest the forces of Islamic radicalism win a strategic victory that would unleash chaos throughout the Middle East and further waves of terror around the world.

We continued to think that the war could be won. But never would we have ventured the insane claim that in little more than a year this hugely unpopular mess could be transformed into a domestic political winner for a Republican presidential candidate.

Yet, this may be about to occur. As this item by Daniel Cassein Commentary pointed out the other day:

Wasn’t it just last month that we heard how Iraq has faded as an issue, even among Republicans? Weren’t New Hampshire’s voters instead deeply concerned about taxes, immigration, health care? This was the great misinterpretation of the run-up to last night’s primary.

John McCain won because he stuck to the war in Iraq.

(Others pointed out that another evident purpose of McCain’s speech was to position himself as accepting the mantle of national leadership. This required a high-level presentation playing to Republican strengths in foreign policy.)

Iraq was supposed to kill the Republicans’ presidential prospects. Instead, the reverse now appears possible. If, in another eight months, Al Qaeda in Iraq has been crushed and Iraq appears to be stabilizing, it will be the Republicans who benefit –and most of all those few happy warriors, those singular Horatios at the gate.

Blogmarks BlogLines Digg Facebook Google Google Reader Magnolia Yahoo! MyWeb Newsgator reddit SlashDot StumbleUpon Technorati