Sunday, May 18, 2008

John McCain Takes the Reins on Wishful Thinking

The spin on Barack Obama this campaign season has been that he's all bluster and little substance. That was to be expected, given his short time on the national political scene, especially when compared to his two competitors.

But John McCain on Thursday took the baton, delivering a speech in Ohio in which he laid out his vision of the world at the end of his first hypothetical term, a speech which was grandiose in scope but limited in specifics.

By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated; and the Government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders. The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.

Again, McCain is falling back on "winning" as the impetus for withdrawal while never spelling out what that entails or how it can be achieved. Even as he acknowledges "centuries of sectarian tension," he supposes that it will have faded in the next four years. An incredible claim, really, to presume that centuries of animosity will be solved by a decade of relative anarchy.

"Civil war has been prevented," by refusing to acknowledge it already existed, or that ethnic cleansing has been thorough enough as to render more a moot point. Disbanding militias will undoubtedly continue as more militia members are absorbed by the ISF, which is already seen as a sectarian tool by the under-represented Sunnis.

McCain seems also to be proposing permanent bases while refusing to acknowledge that Congress has to approve any SOFA, something a likely Democratic-controlled legislature will be loathe to approve.

The threat from a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan has been greatly reduced but not eliminated. U.S. and NATO forces remain there to help finish the job, and continue operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. The Government of Pakistan has cooperated with the U.S. in successfully adapting the counterinsurgency tactics that worked so well in Iraq and Afghanistan to its lawless tribal areas where al Qaeda fighters are based. The increase in actionable intelligence that the counterinsurgency produced led to the capture or death of Osama bin Laden, and his chief lieutenants. There is no longer any place in the world al Qaeda can consider a safe haven. Increased cooperation between the United States and its allies in the concerted use of military, diplomatic, and economic power and reforms in the intelligence capabilities of the United States has disrupted terrorist networks and exposed plots around the world.

As the Taliban is currently enjoying a resurgence, in order to speculate that there will be regression McCain is obligated to propose some strategic alteration which would precipitate such a change. It can't be more troops, as the US has already pleaded for more NATO forces to no avail, and the rest of our forces are stuck in Iraq. If it's cooperation he's after, the US has already be rebuffed by NATO allies and now by its supposed staunch ally, Pakistan. As of now, and short of any specific and tangible alterations in strategic aims, that al Qaeda would be unable to find a safe haven in Pakistan is a pipe dream.

After efforts to pressure the Government in Sudan over Darfur failed again in the U.N. Security Council, the United States, acting in concert with a newly formed League of Democracies, applied stiff diplomatic and economic pressure that caused the government of Sudan to agree to a multinational peacekeeping force, with NATO countries providing logistical and air support, to stop the genocide that had made a mockery of the world's repeated declaration that we would "never again" tolerant such inhumanity. Encouraged by the success, the League is now occupied with using the economic power and prestige of its member states to end other gross abuses of human rights such as the despicable crime of human trafficking.

I can't argue with the impotency of the UN, but that in 4 years, McCain will have established a functional League of Democracies is an incredible in and of itself, but that it will have succeeded in ending decades-old conflicts and centuries-old vices is ludicrous.

Health care has become more accessible to more Americans than at any other time in history. Reforms of the insurance market; putting the choice of health care into the hands of American families rather than exclusively with the government or employers.

McCain's plan to allow Americans to buy their own insurance ignores the fact that they can currently buy their own insurance. The problem isn't availability, it's prohibitive costs and that many people, McCain included, aren't qualified for coverage.

McCain goes on to predicate several improvements on "reduction of costs." Of course, no suggestion as to just what might lower these costs.

It goes on from there, with nary a suggestion save for wishful thinking to illustrate just how any of these propositions comes to fruition.

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