August 14, 2008

The Iraq War did not exist

You couldn?t have scripted it better:  John McCain: ?In the 21st century, nations don?t invade other nations.?

The line was of course prime fodder for snarky retorts by liberal bloggers. It could also be used as evidence that John McCain is just plane dumb.

But then the senator appeared both genuine and self-aware when he made these comments, so perhaps we should take them seriously and look more closey at the implications of the fact that McCain doesn?t seem to believe that a nation invaded another nation in March of 2003.

For all the talk of McCain as a war chief who never met a military campaign he didn?t like, one shouldn?t forget how much he has bought into the idea of American foreign policy as a ?progressive? agenda, or as Morton Abramowitz recently put it, how much he?s still living in the ?mythical world of the 1990s?:

The righteousness started in this case with the notion of the unipolar moment: that we are so omnipotent, having demolished the Soviet Union, that we can do what we want when we want to, double standards to the contrary. That we had free license to go into any area we wanted because we were moral and democratic?but woe to those who might tread into helping out Castro. That feeling of unlimited power was heightened when the United States defeated the mighty Slobodan Milosevic?without ground troops and without losing a single soldier in an air campaign which this writer strongly supported.

This kind of foreign policy is based on unlimited power, to be sure. But then more striking is its lack of traditional foreign-policy objectives and war aims?Washington invaded Iraq not to gain territory or influence but to overthrow a cruel dictator, support UN mandates, make the world safe, spread democracy, etc. In this mindset, the Iraq War was not a war. Putin, on the other hand, had the gall to continue of state policy by other means (that is, hegemony in the Caucasuses).  In McCain?s mind, that?s just sooo last century.

We should ask ourselves, in the coming decades, are we going to see more massive U.S-led ideological campaigns for freedom, or more ugly border disputes and inter-ethnic conflicts? Who is better in tune with his time, a McCain or a Putin? It’s frightening how disconnected McCain is from reality.

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