When John McCain spoke recently before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) he had this to say about Barack Obama: "It's a very clear choice, and whether it be on Iran, or whether it be on Iraq, or whether it be on other national security issues, Senator Obama does not have the experience and the knowledge and clearly the judgment, my friends."
Saber rattling and threats of U.S. military violence against Arabs and Persians are always sure winners at AIPAC rallies and have become election year boilerplate; all presidential candidates eagerly engage in this form of predictable demagoguery. But McCain's macho rhetorical thrusts about using American military power are scarier and more real because of his bona fides as a first-rate warmonger.
On March 20, 2003, John McCain said on television: "The Iraqi people will greet us as liberators." Three days later he said: "This conflict is . . . going to be relatively short." Thereafter McCain has become one of those guys, like Thomas Friedman, who sees the looming American victory in Iraq in six-month intervals. On September 10, 2003, McCain said: "I would argue that the next three to six months will be critical." On February 4, 2007, he said: "We can know fairly well in a few months." On September 12, 2007, he said: "The next six months are going to be critical."
McCain claims to have seen for himself all of the wonderful progress being made in Iraq. He doesn't like to dwell on the 4,100 American lives lost, and the 500,000 to 1 million Iraqi deaths. Neither does he wish to acknowledge the 2 million internally displaced people, nor the 2 million refugees who have fled the country since 2003, nor the gutted infrastructure, nor the profiteering from Haliburton and KBR and other American contractors, nor the hatred and animosity the occupation of Iraq has engendered throughout the world.
In all of his many speeches on the subject of Iraq, John McCain has shown very little empathy with the suffering of the Iraqi people. He has shown about as much concern for the deaths of innocent civilians in Iraq as he had shown for the deaths of innocent civilians in Vietnam at the time he was bombing them.
On March 26, 2007 McCain said in an interview with the Bill Bennett radio show: "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today. The U.S. is beginning to succeed in Iraq." And then there was his famous "stroll" through the open-air Shorja Market. Fittingly, on April Fool's Day 2007, McCain told a news conference in the heavily fortified Green Zone: "Things are better and there are encouraging signs. I have been here many years -- many times over the years. Never have I been able to drive from the airport, never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today. The American people are not getting the full picture of what's happening here."
Add to this litany of terrible judgment McCain's many gaffes revealing that he doesn't know the difference between Shias and Sunnis, and that he thinks Iraqi nationalism emanates from Iran, or the motivation for the insurgency in Iraq is hatred of "our way of life," and what we have is a George W. Bush clone.
"I will never surrender, my friends," McCain recently promised a Republican gathering. Surrender to whom? He does not explain. Bush said the other day: "Iran is an existential threat to peace." What the hell does that mean? Both McCain and Bush speak gibberish about Iraq and it's very dangerous to be speaking gibberish when you're occupying a nation of 27 million people in the heart of the Middle East. It is useful gibberish though: It masks U.S. imperial goals in Iraq and frames the occupation as part of a defensive "war on terror."