Inspiring little confidence as he runs for the highest office in the land during a recession and spiraling gas costs, John McCain has admitted that economics "is not something I've understood as well as I should."
Fair enough, although he could say the same thing about foreign policy. As he spoke to the World Affairs Council two weeks ago, McCain portrayed himself as a "realistic idealist," on foreign policy, saying that leaving Iraq could consign the Iraqi people to "horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possible genocide."
Again, McCain makes a fair point. However, how well does this speak for the wisdom and judgement of McCain and the Bush administration which he has followed, that, after five years, 4,000 American dead, and $1 trillion dollars spent, the situation in Iraq now runs the risk of becoming a "genocidal calamnity?"
How well indeed, does this speak for the "surge" which McCain has often claimed is a glorious success, even though General Petraeus, a man far better equipped to understand matters in Iraq, has declared the "surge" to be "uneven" at best.
In his remarks at the World Affairs Council, McCain grimly warned that, "Whether they [al-Qaeda] were in Iraq before is immaterial," because they "[are] there now." I am flabbergasted by this direct contradiction.
Interestingly enough, on the same day as McCain's speech, the editor of the war-supporting Weekly Standard boldly stated that "We [who does he mean by "we?"] know al Qaeda was in Iraq before the war. Nobody disputes that."
Apparently McCain counts as a "nobody" the editor of the Weekly Standard, or else this was nothing more than a bad case of un-coordinated messages.
The alleged "link" between Saddam and al-Qaeda was one of the biggest justifications for the pre-emptive war started by the U.S. in Iraq, as well the "well-known fact," as McCain put it then, that Saddam had nuclear weapons, and as President Bush insisted, presented a "grave danger to the world." McCain's "well-known fact" was disproven when, after the invasion, the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Hussein had abandoned or destroyed his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs after the Persian Gulf War in 1991, a dozen years earlier.
Last month, an "exhaustive" Pentagon-commissioned study of documents from Saddam Hussein's government concluded that there was no "direct operational link" between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, once a major administration talking-point extensively spoken of in formerly conservative publications like National Review, who would frequently make wild claims such as this title from 2005:
"It’s All About 9/11: The president links Iraq and al Qaeda — and the usual
Apparently NR does not seem to care that the "usual suspects" now include the president's own government.
Before voting for the Iraq War in 2002, all members of Congress, including John McCain, were given a chance to read the National Intelligence Estimate on the matter, which expressed grave doubts about the administration's now-disproven claims for war.
John McCain, who also claimed that American casualties in Iraq would be "minimal," never read it. 4,000 dead Americans now know who to thank.
Voters should be leery about McCain's pattern of mixing up and ignoring the facts when it comes to important national security issues. Only last month, on a trip to the Middle East, he declared that, “Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and is receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran.” Only after Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was traveling with McCain on the junket, stepped forward to whisper in his ear did McCain say, “I’m sorry; the Iranians are training the extremists, not Al Qaeda. Not Al Qaeda. I’m sorry.”
Iran is a predominantly Shiite Muslim country and has been at pains to close its borders to Al- Qaeda fighters of the rival Sunni sect. Sunni and Shia muslims have been fighting with each other for over a thousand years.
McCain regularly takes great pains to highlight the issue of national security in campaign events, often saying that, "No other candidate has my experience," a dubious statement, indeed. If voting for a candidate with "experience" means voting for one who ignores facts and is not aware of basic Muslim religious differences, which are taught in a basic high-school history class, then "experience" is definitely not what America needs.
John McCain has not learned from his mistakes on Iraq, saying to a crowd yesterday in Connecticut that he will not "make a blanket statement about pre-emptive war, because obviously, it depends on the threat that the United States of America faces."
As was crudely stated in the National Review, by Professor David Oderberg of "applied ethics" fame, “When it comes to applying tradition to life-and-death moral issues”—such as the Iraq War...Bush 43 wins hands down over John Paul II.”
Many Catholics are not aware that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have both strongly condemned the war in Iraq, and more precisely, the Bush-invented and McCain-supported concept of "pre-emptive war," which Benedict XVI has said does "not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church."
Benedict has also added that, "There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war'."
When the current Pope was conscripted into the German army during World War Two, he promptly deserted. He was stopped by SS troops who, after some debate, decided not to shoot him, because, as the Pope said in his memoirs, Milestones, the soldiers "had enough of war and did not want to become murderers."
While Benedict XVI wisely counsels us on the pointlessness of war, John McCain's fascination with it, and desire for more, only seems to be beginning.