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Exactly How Dangerous IS John McCain?

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The generals and commanders in the field have unanimously rejected his call to send in more troops, according to Gen. Abizaid, but John McCain hasn't stopped talking. He seems intent on outdoing both Cheney and Rumsfeld in promoting poorly-thought-out and extreme plans. Here are two radical and dangerous ideas John McCain has recently put forth about Iraq:

Kill Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraq's Shiite leadership brought al-Sadr into their coalition. Now, frustrated by his influence on the government, McCain said "I think he needs to be taken out."

Reject any form of compromise in resolving the war.

Speaking of the Iraq Study Group's search for a compromise solution to ending the war, McCain was contemptuous: "Well in war, my dear friends, there is no such thing as compromise; you either win or you lose." (courtesy TPM)

These ideas are so extreme that they should force those who have bought the "moderate" or "independent" spin about McCain to acknowledge the increasingly obvious: Either McCain has lost his mind, or he has sacrificed all principle in order to position himself for a Presidential run.

Come to think of it, these two possibilities aren't mutually exclusive.

His behavior also raises this question: Is John McCain now the most dangerous man in America? These statements certainly make it clear that he lacks the judgment and skill necessary to be President.

Let's look at each of his wacky comments in turn.

"Take him out."

This sort of language and behavior has undermined longstanding alliances, diminished American influence worldwide, and left us without the allies we need to effectively combat international terrorism. Until Bush, American Presidents knew better than to talk like this, even - or especially - if they intended to act.

Killing al-Sadr would immediately create a renewed worldwide backlash against the U.S. It would also be an enormous gift to Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists, giving them a new martyr and reinforcing the stereotype of Americans as bloodthirsty and lawless.

Al-Sadr's death would deprive future Iraqi leaders of a critical bargaining partner. It would be the equivalent of a newly-elected Ronald Reagan assassinating Brezhnev, instead of negotiating with him.

Most importantly, it would turn many more Shiites into active participants in the insurgency. Al-Sadr is the son of a beloved Grand Ayatollah, in a culture that believes holiness runs in families. For many Iraqi Shiites, it would be the equivalent of murdering someone who is the combination of Pope John Paul and Abraham Lincoln.

We may not like Moqtada al-Sadr's ideas, but his influence is undeniable. McCain was talking loony talk here. Whether he was serious, or just throwing red meat to conservatives, it was foolish, irresponsible, and un-Presidential.

"In war there is no compromise."

The truth is that wars almost always end with compromises of one sort or another, especially among countries. (Yalta, anyone?) But McCain's objection to compromise isn't international. He objects to compromise among various parties in the U.S. about how to handle the war - particularly any compromise with those who disagree with him over how the war should be handled.

Unfortunately, those parties with whom he refuses to compromise include the many military leaders who have dismissed his ideas for escalation. McCain's intransigence on the war, and his contempt for compromise, may be forcing the Bush Administration and other Republicans into a position where they have no room to de-escalate.

"You either win or lose."

This one's is almost certainly cynical and self-serving, rather than simply reckless or irrational. He's positioning himself to blame others for the "loss" of Iraq. Here's a question McCain can't answer: "If tehe only choices are 'winning' or 'losing,' what does 'winning' in Iraq look like?"

No hypotheticals or generalizations allowed, like "a free and stable country." What cities do we conquer, what neighborhoods do we take, what territory do we seize - and to whom do we hand it over, under what conditions? If you can't describe that - and McCain can't - you can't describe victory.

As I wrote last month, "Here's a simple truth about war. If you don't know how to win one and you don't intend to negotiate, there's only one other option left: defeat." McCain's "strategy" can only end in failure. Does he know that? Does he care? Does anything matter except promoting his presidential chances?

Tragically, McCain is helping foster a political climate that makes GOP leaders less able to heed the advice of our military. It's hard to know the exact mix of motives - how much is blundering and how much is pandering to the right. Either way, he's a reckless and unstable force in American politics.

"I don't want to be president of the United States so much that I will take a position that I don't believe in when American lives are at risk," said McCain. Sadly, it's no longer possible to believe him - not after he squandered the moral authority he acquired as a hero and torture victim by acceding to a deal with Bush and Rove that permitted Americans to keep torturing the innocent and the guilty alike.

That's the sort of "compromise" America doesn't need.

The mainstream media is working overtime to elect John McCain. They're telling you he's a "straight talker," despite his self-serving and politically motivated about-faces - on torture, on the religious right, even regarding racist attacks on his own family during the 2000 primaries. And there's always more - like his embarrassing (and clearly politically-motivated) flip-flop on ethanol. Yet the political pundits still claim McCain's a straight shooter.

Here's what they won't tell you: President John McCain would be every bit as unstable, dangerous, and cynical as the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld axis he hopes to replace.

The press played a big part in electing the people who got us into today's mess. Now they're working hard to elect someone who may, in fact, be just as dangerous - or more so.

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