h1

John Kerry Gets It

April 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’ 

The vid:

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.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Advertisements

15 comments

  1. McCain’s comment was a complete throw-away comment. What he basically said was: “If things go totally perfectly, then we’ll have a beneficial civil-military relationship with Iraq and we can set up bases there, no problem at all, per the original ‘If things go totally perfectly’ condition.”

    Really trivially true, and has no bearing on policy decisions to get to “totally perfectly”, so a throw-away line I think.

    A Presidential candidate would be pretty silly to say that our commitment to Iraq is totally unconditional. The only sane policy is conditional commitment. Spelling out those conditions should be the debate we’re having, I think.


  2. McCain’s comment was a complete throw-away comment. What he basically said was: “If things go totally perfectly, then we’ll have a beneficial civil-military relationship with Iraq and we can set up bases there, no problem at all, per the original ‘If things go totally perfectly’ condition.”

    I don’t think it’s a “throwaway” comment, as it highlights a major foreign policy difference between Clinton/Obama and McCain. Legislation to ban the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq even passed the House. And in light of the perception of the Iraqis and the possible link to resistence and violence there, it is definately worth debating. The paradox may very well be that if we insist on having permanent bases, things won’t go totally perfectly.


  3. I think ChenZhen is on the right track… Permanent military bases in Iraq will guarantee continuing violence in the area. The new trend and just not in the Muslim world is that other nations want more local influence in hot spot regions and less American melding. We better start to understand this and back off or there will just be more anti-American attitudes spreading across the world.


  4. Well I am surprised to see Kerry at least partially defend McCain. McCain really defended him in 2004, so I guess he owes him a little.

    I would also add it isnt fair to say he “qualified” the 100 year statement with what you wrote next – it was all part of the same statement.


  5. Chen, I can’t help but notice the Sept. 2006 date on your graph and the article it came from.

    Think about everything that went on in 2006 with the sectarian violence sparked by the Golden Mosque bombings.

    Then think about the dramatic turnaround that has taken place over the last half of 2007 and continuing into this year, arguably due to the Surge strategy.

    Do you think those numbers and opinions concerning our presence may be different at this point?

    As to your question, it’s really not fairly framed. There is no answer that McaCain could give that would not make him sound like an insensative warmonger.


  6. I don’t know where to begin… Kerry voted for the war back in 03 and clearly had emotions that it would’ve gone better. those emotions belie his having a hand in disarming and hurting the military,way to go winter.
    The jihadists are coming to Iraq. Closer review of that shows that WAS the truth.The violence in the country now is now more clearly Iraqi in origin.
    Basra not being a problem. In the clip I’m missing the qualifier,when? I would also point out that the violence in Basra now is internal and directly linked to that seen in Sadr City and the Green Zone.
    Other countries in the area host bases that are as safe as those in Asia or Europe. People don’t really like a foreign military presence in their backyard. Whether your in Wildflicken or Okinawa the presence is in your face and the negatives more noticeable. From a tank running over your goat to a daughter being raped. My point is that Iraq bases only fly with the permission of the 2 nations and I don’t see that being granted.
    Kerry did a fair amount of slipping in this as Wallace handed him his hat.CZ as far as your personal assertions and questions.I think Iraq is evolving in a way the pundits haven’t even come close to grasping. The truth is there will be more American bloodshed and I personally believe Al Sadr is on an assassination list. The US is preparing it’s departure and the upcoming Iraqi elections will dictate the final steps.I don’t think any of the US Presidential candidates have a platform that is right on Iraq since all the platforms are aimed at the base and by that I mean the emotion driven people with little real info.McCain is closest to what is going to happen.


  7. Chen-
    What I meant was that McCain sketched a tautological hypothetical that is trivially true, and so isn’t policy.

    You’re exactly right that McCain has no reason to think that American bases will be acceptable in the future. Yet he prefaces the whole thing by just assuming that they will be; saying, basically, that “IF American bases are wanted/needed like in S. Korea” Right? He’s just assuming that one of the necessary pre-conditions for long-term American bases is met. That’s absurdly hypothetical, and so is a throw-away line meant to show he’s a tough dude. He’s saying “there are conditions under which we could be there for one hundred years.” No shit. That’s not policy, that’s sketching an obvious possibility that no one would deny, anyway.


  8. The Red Pill-

    Chen, I can’t help but notice the Sept. 2006 date on your graph and the article it came from.

    Think about everything that went on in 2006 with the sectarian violence sparked by the Golden Mosque bombings.

    Then think about the dramatic turnaround that has taken place over the last half of 2007 and continuing into this year, arguably due to the Surge strategy.

    Do you think those numbers and opinions concerning our presence may be different at this point?

    I’ll concede that point to a certain extent. I tried to find more recent polls and such, but it looks like this was the best I had to go on. Opinions fluctuate, sure. But somewhere along the lines the vast majority of those polled were somehow convinced that we intended to set up permanent bases there, and it’s a little harder to envision how that dynamic has changed in the interim than, say, an opinion about their general welfare.

    As to your question, it’s really not fairly framed. There is no answer that McaCain could give that would not make him sound like an insensative warmonger.

    I’ll concede that too, and I guess that I was framing it in the context of political warfare, and in that sense I think it would be a killer question come debate time. Outside of that arena, my underlying point here is still a valid one IMO, in that it forces one to think about McCain’s comment in the “it sounds good, but it (permanent presence) may be completely far fetched and too costly to be entertained” sort of way.


  9. Hi there… Sorry if this isn’t the right forum. I just wanted to see if my blog might be eligible for admission to the WordPress Political Blog Alliance:

    http://www.conservativeintelligencer.com

    Also, what logos, etc. I needed to display on my site in order to join the alliance. 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. . .

    Yours,

    J. Wesley


  10. Sorry J. Wesley, but the rules are the blog has to be hosted at wordpress.com.


  11. Ah, I missed that step. I use WordPress, but I’m not hosted. Got it. 🙂 Either way, all the best to you!


  12. When he made that ridiculous 100 years remark, McCain dug himself a hole that’s impossible to get out of.


  13. If anyone else’s blog has been blocked by technorati for political reasons please let me know so you can be added to the civil suit. If you’ve got the guts, we can TAKE BACK AMERICA!!!


  14. What the heck?

    Kip, where can I get some info on that, and how would I go about finding out if I am effected?


  15. I really don’t know what you’re talking about Kip. Your technorati page is right here. They’ve logged blog reactions for you as recently as a day ago.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: