To me, one of the problems of the paradigm of global war is that it has not signified war in the metaphorical sense, like war on AIDS, war on drugs, and war on poverty. It has signified war in a literal sense that the employment of military power, on a large scale, in pursuit of very large ambitions—like the liberation or dominance or transformation of Iraq—ought to really be the principle instrument in order to achieve our purposes. I think that takes us down the wrong road. I think, and others have argued, that a new version of containment actually provides the basis to begin thinking about how to prevent another 9/11. Not a new war, not a global war, not a protracted war. The answer to the problem is not to invade and occupy countries, which we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, but relying on other instruments of power to try to prevent Islamic radicalism from increasing its reach and its influence in the world.
I’ve reviewed [Robert] Kagan’s new book [The Return of History and the End of Dreams] in the most recent issue [of Foreign Affairs], and I was very critical of the book. I really didn’t like it, but the one thing that really bowled me over, and that I emphatically agree with, is that what the Islamists have on offer cannot win. The plan that they have, the concept for how people should live, is simply not responsive to what ordinary folk want for their lives. I mean, they are fighting against modernity, and as Robert Kagan says, that is a fight that they cannot win.
Almost everything on this struggle is on our side, and therefore we should approach it with the confidence and patience, and shouldn’t run pell-mell into these military adventures that the Bush administration has approached. Our adversaries are contemptible. Our adversaries are criminals. Our adversaries are murderers. We ought not to dignify their cause as if it were the equivalent of Marxism or Leninism or National Socialism or something of the last century, because they don’t deserve that type of status.
– Andrew Bacevich, from a recent interview with Greg Bruno of the Council on Foreign Relations
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NBC Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell transcribes reports from the Straight Talk Express:
Advisors say if Obama gets “nastier” on [the ‘how many houses’] issue that opens the door for them. Advisors say the “Rezko deal stinks to the high heavens.” They will be prepared to show McCain’s “home” in Hanoi by using images of his cell. They claim they have not overused the POW element and insist they have “underused it.”
Since O’Donnell is apparently angling for a lucrative new position as McCain campaign stenographer, I’ll happily do her current job for her and challenge the notion that McCain has ever been reluctant to play the POW card:
- McCain aired a December 2007 television ad in which Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said: “McCain has been tested like no other politician in America. As a prisoner of war, he turned down an offer for early release because he refused preferential treatment.”
- In a January 1 Washington Post article, reporter Alec MacGillis wrote that “[a]t many of his [McCain’s] events, his campaign sets up a screen and plays for the crowd a three-minute film called ‘Service With Honor,’ telling the story of McCain’s more than five years of captivity in a North Vietnamese prison after his Navy plane was shot down in 1967. ‘He was offered early release, and he told ’em to shove it,’ says one fellow prisoner of war, Paul Galanti.”
- At a June 26 campaign event in Cincinnati, McCain said: “When I was allowed the opportunity, given the opportunity to return home early from prison camp. I decided against that because I knew the effect that it would have on my fellow prisoners.”
- In a June 28 speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a July 8 speech to the League of United Latin American Citizens, and a July 14 speech to National Council of La Raza Convention, McCain repeated this statement: “When I was in prison in Vietnam, I like other of my fellow POWs, was offered early release by my captors. Most of us refused because we were bound to our code of conduct, which said those who had been captured the earliest had to be released the soonest.”
- In a July 8 McCain campaign television ad, an announcer states of McCain: “John McCain: Shot down. Bayoneted. Tortured. Offered early release, he said, ‘No.’ He’d sworn an oath.”
- At a July 17 campaign event in Kansas City, Missouri, McCain said: “[T]he Vietnamese came to me and said, we’ll allow you to go home early because my father happened to be a high ranking admiral. Our code of conduct said that only those go home early in order of capture. It was a brave young Mexican-American by the name of Everett Alvarez who had been in prison a couple years longer than I had. So I knew I had to refuse.” Similarly, at a July 18 campaign event in Warren, Michigan, McCain said (retrieved from Nexis): “One time when I was in prison in North Vietnam and the North Vietnamese came and said, ‘You can go home early,’ because my father was a high-ranking admiral, I chose not to do that.”
A noun, a verb and POW. That really is all they’ve got. And–surprise, surprise–instead of calling out the McCain campaign’s rank bullshit, his base is once again eagerly swallowing it without even bothering to ask for ketchup.
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