John Kerry Gets ItApril 6, 2008
I’ve never been a big fan of John Kerry (in fact, I remember rejoicing the fact that he wouldn’t be running for president this year), but Mr. “Reporting For Duty” said something today that I thought I’d comment on, since lately I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time blogging, debating and discussing the McCain “100 years in Iraq” issue.
First, the Think Progress link: Kerry: McCain’s ‘100 Years’ Remarks Show A ‘Fundamental Misunderstanding Of Iraq Itself’
I say that Kerry “gets it” in the sense that he understands that Clinton and Obama really shouldn’t be issuing misleading charges that McCain wants 100 years of war in Iraq, but that they should instead be stressing that the insistence on establishing permanent bases there just might mean that’s essentially what the result would be. He could have done a better job making the point, actually, because there is some data that backs this up pretty well:
The belief that the United States plans to have permanent bases in Iraq is highly correlated with support for attacks on U.S.-led forces. Among those who believe this, 68 percent approve of attacks. Among those who believe that the United States plans to withdraw once Iraq is stabilized, only 34 percent approve of attacks. Beliefs about whether the United States would respond to an Iraqi government request to withdraw follow the same pattern.
I suppose I could ask how many troops have died because of rhetoric like McCain’s, but I won’t go there. It would appear that perhaps the “permanent base” propaganda is a little more dangerous than the “anti-war” propaganda that war supporters consistently lament, however. But I’ll let my readers draw their own conclusions.
Now, I know that Maverick qualified his “100 years” comment by saying “As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me”, but based on the sentiment in the region, does McCain have any reason to believe that the hostilities will stop anytime soon? And I’m not suggesting that he’d be able to say exactly when here. I’m talking more broadly about a rational assessment on whether or not we can expect the hostilities to stop at all if our intention really is to establish permanent bases, and if we can, would it come months, years, or even decades from now? That’s not an unfair question to pose to someone who his maintaining that a 100 year presence is possible, and it should be posed. What Kerry did here was put the debate over what McCain suggested in the proper framework, and put the ball in McCain’s court… but it should have another follow up question attached:
“If a 100 year presence in Iraq is fine by you, on the condition that the shooting had stopped, how much of America’s time, money and bloodshed would be acceptable to achieve that condition, assuming it’s possible?”
Update: To reiterate the point that stating a policy of permanent presence is counter-productive to what we’re trying to accomplish over there, take it from this guy:
CentCom’s planning director, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, has said the building of permanent bases would not be in the US interest.
“We must continue to show that we will not become a permanent force of occupation… because we need to operate in that region in an environment of consent,” Jane’s Defence Weekly quoted him as saying.