McCain: George Bush who?

McCain has continued his “don’t call me Bush the third” tour in the past couple days making it quite clear that he intends to be his own presidency, not mired in the shadow of the current Bush administration.

A report on it from AOL News:

WASHINGTON (May 2) — Slowly but surely, Republican presidential candidate John McCain is putting some distance between himself and unpopular President George W. Bush.

This week it was the ill-timed “Mission Accomplished” banner that the White House hung behind Bush five years ago when Bush declared major combat operations over in Iraq.

“I thought it was wrong at the time,” McCain said in Cleveland on Thursday, proceeding to criticize Vice President Dick Cheney’s various comments over the years that the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes” with “a few dead-enders” all that was left.

Last week, McCain surprised some in the White House by declaring Bush’s leadership “disgraceful” during the crisis over the 2005 Katrina hurricane that walloped New Orleans.

“Never again,” McCain declared.

It is a strategy born of necessity for McCain, facing uphill odds as he tries to win a third straight White House term for his party, a feat that has happened only once in presidential politics in the past half century.

McCain has to do what he can to not be bogged down spending his entire campaign defending the Bush administration’s policies. He’s been doing a fairly good job but the Democratic Party and the liberal group have already begun putting big bucks into running ads painting him in the opposite light.

First, this spot from via ABC News:

Also, the Democratic National Committee took the same theme and ran with it:

I’m guessing that McCain is now regretting that “hug” with President Bush as it will probably appear in every single anti-McCain ad run by Democrats. Plus, his statement about the “100 years” is being twisted and used to make it appear as though he advocated 100 years of war in Iraq.

I think the “100 year statement is explainable though it will be used against him repeatedly.

  • Josh

    Of course they’re going to use the hundred year statement, any politician should know better than that, especially if they’re going to try and paint themselves as the herald of experience. Obviously, intelligent Democrats know that this comment certainly did not mean that he intends to continue massive military operation in Iraq for 100 years. What it does mean, however, is that he intends to make Iraq another pseudo-territory as South Korea has become. Our continued presense is only making us less safe, not more. The only things we have accomplished in Iraq are creating a better base for Al-Qaeda than they would have ever dreamed having in Afghanistan, and removing the only secular (and anti-Iranian) leader the Middle East and replacing him with a government made up of Islamofacists from various sects around Iraq, most with ties to extremist groups. It has the West all along that has allowed Islamic extremism to rise, because, in fact, we gave the exremists a nationalistic cause with which to gain support. Do you think Al-Qaeda would exist without the Afghanistan debacle in the 80’s? Do you think that Hamaas would exist without the ignorant and shortsighted creation of Israel in the 50’s? Of course not! McCain fails to understand Islam, probably because he has such a strong hatred for it. He will, as Bush has, fail miserably with his Foreign Policy on the MIddle East, because he thinks just like Bush, that if you keep eradicating the “terrorists” and destroying their strategic locations that we will eventually win. Those are western fighting terms, and you cannot fight an eastern war on western terms! For every Al-Qaeida terrorist we kill, two or three more will be there to take his place because they use the continued occupation as a cause with which to gain and indoctrinate young supporters. We saw this in Vietnam, after we failed to win the war, even while we won every major battle. You cannot kill idealogy, you must combat it with other means.

    Here’s another question, too. What did McCain mean when he said there’d be other wars, what exactly are his plans? I am in mortal fear of having a president who makes war-mongering his first and only priority, even if he is decidedly less stupid than Bush. Ask any other world leader what they think of McCain if you want to know how a McCain presidency would help our standing with the rest of the world, too.

  • Josh

    Another comment, as well, why didn’t the Democratic ad include the 700,000 Iraqis we have killed (most of the civilians). That’s surely going to want to make the terrorist stop.

  • Babs

    They don’t include that, Josh, because the same democrats that are now slamming Iraq voted to go there along with Bush. They’re the pot calling the kettle black.

    Anybody that lives on this planet has to say of course, they’ll be other wars – as long as people live on the planet, they’ll be wars over something. If that frightens you, get a grip on yourself because world peace was being touted long before I was born, much less you, and it hasn’t happened yet and won’t. That’s the difference in being young enough yet to dream about changing the world in that respect, and old enough to know that’s all it is, just a dream. As long as there’s hate, there’ll be war. And hate is as rampant an emotion in this world as love.

    McCain is too often buttonholed into the military confine because of his POW experience. He is not a war monger. There’s a lot more to the man if anyone cares to look. An interesting thing to note here, however, is that McCain is not whining for Obama or Clinton to “control” their parties dirty moves in their ad campaigns. He’s tougher than that, and believes the american people have sense enough to see through, and recognize that reading comprehension was not one of Howard Dean’s strong points in grammar school.

    Ask any world leader what they think of McCain? Well, we know what Hamas leaders think of Obama, don’t we? If that’s the world leaders you’re referring to I hope they can’t stand McCain. *LOL*

  • Michel

    Exactly… there will be wars in other parts of the world… but the gross of our army is stationary in Iraq, and McCains is not planning to move them out for now.

    I guess people was thinking of McCain as a war monger because he is the only candidate left who’s not speaking openly against U.S. military presence in Iraq.

    But hey Babs, you seem to have a better undertanding of people’s motivation than me, so I’ll believe you.

  • Babs weighed in on the 29th on the two commericals being run by and the DNC. See the analysis here:

  • bennett

    Josh you boil the history of the modern middle east down so nice and simply but I feel that this history with it the history of Zionism (Jewish nationalsm), Islamism and pan-Islamism, and Middle Eastern/Arab/Persian nationalism is anything but simple. For starters Israel was created in 1947. Further the creation of the state of Israel was anything but shortsighted and ignorant, it was the crowning achievement of nearly a century-long world Zionist movement led by some very amazing, brilliant, dedicated and heavily persecuted people. To say that there would be no Hamas if the US and nearly everyother nation would not have recognized Israel upon its creation is not really a valid argument, Hammas was born in 1987 nearly 40 years after the creation of Israel, and was a response to Israel but also a response to the inept and totally corrupt Palestinian Authority; you skip over so many important facts when drawing that conclusion. Further you cannot rewrite history you can only move forward and deal with what you have. I would also like to add that much of the land that Jewish immigrants settled on upon beginning in the mid 19th and into the 20th century was land that was bought legitmately from the Ottoman’s who ruled (ruled may be a bit srong of a word for the control they excercised) Palestine, and from Arab families, it was not until mass Jewish emmigration from Europe, which was motivated mainly by rising and extreme anti-semitism (once again the Jews were about to be severely persecuted by the European overlords), that led to illegal settling and gobbling up of land; but once again this history is not so easy to boil down, Jews were fleeing Europe because the threat of annihalation and they had really nowhere else to turn beside their ancient homeland as they had been persecuted by nearly every nation in Europe and Russia, its hardly something to hold against the Jews to want esacpe western anti-semitism and persecution. I don’t mean to sound like an apologist,I just think that this history and the history of the Jewish people is extremely complex, and to engage in generalities only impede’s ones developing a deeper understanding of the history and the current state of the region.
    As far as the US and it’s foreign policy during the Cold War giving rise to al-Qaeda and what we all have now come to know as militant/violent Islamic fundamentalism, first I would say that hindsight is 20/20, we did what we thought was the right thing to do in containing the advance of the very hostile Soviet regime. Second this policy was a completely non-partisan policy that was started by President Carter and ended under the 1st President Bush. It was aimed at repeling the Soviet invasion by equiping and funding mujahideen through Pakistan’s ISIA (and while fighting Soviet communists may sound stupid, evil, archaic or trivial at present, they were our main enemies for the better part of the 20th century). Many thinkers around the world have attributed the collapse of the Soviet regime to their defeat in Afghanistan. Finally the roots of pan-Islamism, and Islamic fundamentalism go back into the mid 19th century ( Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al Afghani, one of the earliest modern Islamic scholars/thinkers/philosophers wrote tracts in the 19h century that bin Laden uses today… Afghani was a modernist though but he believed/advocted for a pan-Islamic empire but also felt Islam desperately needed to modernize itself, I highly recommend that y’all read some of his stuff).
    I will agree with you that this was an ends-justify-the-means policy that did blowup on us… but I am also going to engage in a little hindsight here, had we a competent government under Bush I, Clinton or Bush 2 we would have seen the “system blinking red” as the 9/11 commission put it. Added to that many intellignece operatives and policy makers just below the senior level did get what was going on with the rise of al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism directed at the US and they tried to bring it to the attention of their superiors but were rebuked in every attempt by senior govt and intelligence officials, the story of what happened on 9/11 is one of gross incompetence and negligence at the highest level’s og govt.
    What have we done in Iraq… al-Qaeda in Iraq has been a myth since the beginning made up by frustrated Bush administration officials trying to justify/rationalize a war they lied to the public to get into. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to many were/are Iraqi Sunni’s who had been totally shut out of the system they once ruthlessely ruled with Saddam. Coincidentally once we began making deals with these Sunni Sheiks (Thugs), the attacks by “al-Qaeda n Iraq” stopped literally overnight, there is a wealth of info out there on this subject. (Though the Army does admit that an extremely small % of attacks in Iraq do come from foreign fighters, but not much) Further you say that Saddam was secular and the only anti-Iranian force in the region… To call Saddam secualr is a joke, he was a thug at best and he raped and pillaged his country of resources and wealth for the better part of the 30 years to put it mildly. That being said, I don’t think him being a thug warranted the war we started, but let is not at all glorify this man who, if there is a hell is buring in it (Why do you think Saddam was Satan’s b*!ch in South Park), the world is better off without that dude.
    Nearly every Arab regime is ant-Iranian at present.
    I don’t think McCain hates Muslims or Islam, I do wonder if you do by calling the Shiite leaders of Iraq Islamofacists, they are not facists. They are the leaders of a very damaged and fractured country put into an extremely difficult situation, they are people from very different and much older civilization and culture, ….they are as much our “other” as we are theirs, not everyone thinks and acts like westerner’s.
    As far as leaving Iraq, I feel we should do nothing in haste. We have spent 100’s of billions of taxpayer dollars, sacrificed 1000’s of American lives, (many more mamed for life), killed and mamed exponentially more Iraqi’s and we are just gonna walk away now? I did not support this war at all from the start, but I feel a moral responibility to it at this point because of how much has been invested into it both by us and the Iraqi’s. As Colin Powell said, if we break it is our responsibility to put it back together. If we leave Iraq in haste I garuntee all of our sacrifices will have been in vain, it will not end up like Vietnam is today (untited and at peace) it will be fractured and weak state constantly at war with itself and a complete threat to every nation that border’s it and consequently a grave threat to the rest of the world. I must stop writing now.

  • Babs

    Wow, bennett, you don’t post often, but you sure get it all said, don’t you? =) I agree with you on our moral responsibility to Iraq. Staying there isn’t about power or victory, it’s about doing the right thing.

  • Josh

    It wasn’t my point to paint Saddam as a wonderful man, but honestly, look at Saddam relative to other leaders in the region and yes, he was very secular. That’s not to say that he wasn’t a brutal tyrant, only decidedly less brutal than, say, the leader of a country like Saudi Arabia. If we were serious about cracking down on terrorism, that would have been our first stop, because 90% of the terrorist money flow comes from the Saudis, who are in turn funded by subsidies from the American government.

    On the topic of Israel, what you need to understand is this. Jews were generally not liked even before the creation of Israel, but they were allowed, at least, to move freely among the Holy Lands. There were always Islamic extremists in the Middle East, as there are here in America. It is what happened after the creation of Israel, however, that created the modern extremist groups. The blatant disregard for the rights of the Palestinian people, coupled with the blatant terrorist acts committed against them BY ISRAEL, provided the nationalistic cause I spoke about earlier, and easily drew thousands of impressionable young Muslims into the fold, even though they might have not believed in the religious causes of the leaders at the time.

  • IndiMinded

    Well McCain has declared that his presidency would be Hamas’ “worst nightmare”. Barack Obama would probably open communication with them. This is a clear contrast in the styles of leadership that their respective presidencies would offer.

    Which style offers the better chance at bringing peace to the middle east? That’s open to debate.

  • Michel

    Trying to return to the subject, I think McCain is doing the right thing. He needs to distance himself (or his image, at least) from Bush. Bush is to McCain what Wright has been to Obama, and he knows that. Maybe McCain is being too timid in ths matter, in my opinion, but he’s still doing the right thing for your election.

    Bennet, you’ve written a terrifci post there, and I’d like to coment on ti when I ahve more time.

  • bennett

    I could not avoid the long posting earlier, Middle Eastern studies is my passion and field of study…
    Josh I would agree with you that originally Baathist philosophy was secular as it was also socialist, but Saddam was neither of those. He executed, exiled or silenced many original Iraqi Baathists when he took power in ’79; Saddam was neither a socialist or a secularist, he was a Saddamist and a dictator, any element of secularism or socialism in Iraq was superficial or had little to do with Saddam. Saddam was also responsible for the brutal deaths of quite a few more people than the Saudi’s or the Iranians.
    On Israel, the Jews were not only free to move around the Mandate, they invested in it, bought property with the explicit purpose of setting up Jewish immigrant communities, many Arabs and Turks dating back to the middle of the 19th century were more than happy to sell them land. On the subject of the use of force by Israel being terrorism, I wonder what do you call the tactics used by Palestinian groups such as Hamas, the al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade, or the PLO, freedom fighting? On this I have to disagree with you, using non-uniformed suicide bombers to blow people up in markets and clubs with no other purpose or intent than to inflict as many casualties as possible on totally innocent bystanders with no other military objective is tactical terrorism. When the Palestinian’s voted a couple of years ago they elected a Hamas government with stated purpose of destroying Israel and their actions back that up, surely you would not expect Israel to stand by and not protect itself. The unofficial slogan of Israel is Never Again, Never again will Jews face persecution and annihalation.
    I would agree with you that the use of force by Israel in the last 20 years has been extremely disproportionate to that of the Palestinians, but I think it is entirely unreasonable to expect that Israel retaliates with exact proportionate force, matching death for death, although I geuss that would fit into the philosophy of an eye for an eye.
    This conflict is horrible, full of revenge and an immense amount of blood is on the hands of all involved.


    INDIMINDED if Obama is open to talking with them, there will be no peace because the religious fighting and civil wars will still go on. McCain is their worst nightmare because he will not falter in his plans and will take action when necessary something Obama will not do. McCain would drive them out thats why he is their worst nightmare.

  • Josh

    I’m sorry about my half-baked post, I’m very busy with finals and such right around the corner.

    I view acts of terrorism as acts of terrorism, whether they are committed by self-described “freedom fighters” or by a sovereign government. You cannot deny that the Israelis have killed scores of civilians with their bombings of Palestinian territories. You also cannot deny that the collective “west” has snubbed the Palestinians at every occasion.

    I honestly believe that Hamaas would have never formed had it not been for the blatent lack of regard for the Palestinian voice in the proceedings from the start. Palestine was not recognized or given a seat at the U.N. even whilst they were deciding their fate. After the new state of Israel was created, the fledgling Israeli government somehow found the audacity to invade the remaining Palestinian territory, and the “west” did nothing to stop it. As it stands now, the Palestinians have been forced out of their homes and made to live in increasingly populated slums, much like the Jews were forced to live in in Poland, and they are not even allowed to return for a visit, at least not without sufficient red-tape and hassle. What would you do if you were in this position? Of course this doesn’t justify the crude and disgusting acts that Hamaas commits, but the Israelis have as much a part in the conflict there as Hamaas does. The reason that Hamaas is so excited about Obama is because he is the first candidate they have seen that has openly addressed this issue, and is willing to actually work toward peace, rather than perpetually side with the Israelis, even when they are blatently wrong.

    The west has always supported Israel, giving the extremists “ammunition” with which they can breed hate for America and the rest of the western world. Muslim children are easy prey, because they are brought up to see America as the direct cause of their condition, or at the very least an unwelcome invading force. Our foreign policy for the last 40 years certainly hasn’t improved this image.

    I certainly can stand behind the ideal of never allowing another Jewish Holocaust, but I’m also not too keen on the idea of propagating a Muslim one, either. If there were any justice in the world, however, Palestinian would be a sovereign nation in the Middle East, and Israel would be a sovereign state somewhere near Poland.

  • IndiMinded

    Let me see if I can deconstruct your assumptions O_S.
    Talk = religious fighting + Civil wars
    McCain’s solution = Action (military I assume)

    It sounds like you think violence will happen either way. So why not at least try talking with them?

    “Driving them out” now means toppling a foreign government. We’d need to install a new one. How is our last attempt at that working out?

    Before we engage in Iraq 2.0, don’t you think engaging in talks ought at least be attempted? I’m not a fan of Hamas, but neither am I a fan of nation building, or our current attempts at it.

    I don’t like the idea that McCain seems to be running for office with a saber-rattling mentality toward the middle east. Our national guard is already fighting abroad. Our military does not have spare resources to expend.

  • is doing a great job of playing dirty politics. I really cannot stand these sorts of measures. McCain is not another “Bush,” never was one. It is clear that he has had to appeal to the “right” in order to win the current Republican nomination, but anyone following politics for over 8 years now knows that he is more than this caricature.

    As for bennett, you don’t sound like an apologist. You are acting as an apologist. If anything, you’re attempt to give a rounded overview of history in the Middle East is one-sided or extremely imbalanced. The Jews only choice was Israel? That is ridiculous, you need to re-examine the initial people like Hans Kohn, and look at their discussions over where to go. This is why they debated over places like Brazil. Afterwards, many were saddened at how Zionism took over the project.

    Furthermore, look at the statistics of these Palestinians who “sold” their land in the 1930s and 40s. There was quite a lot of forced selling, and there continued to be up through today. Israel is an Apartheid State, treating its Palestianian citizens as second-class humans. They cannot build on their properties or expand on them. Bit by bit, their land is stripped through ‘legal’ channels that are overwhelmingly racist. You can witness this today.

    Hamas is a recent invention, as you mentioned. The PLO was not an “ISLAMIC” group before the 1990s, they were secular in design. Their purpose was about the issue of occupation, of nationalism, and human rights. They reinvented themselves in the 1990s and today are known along with Hamas as being an Islamic organization, but this is a recent occurrence. In many ways, it is in reaction to the long-standing Zionist principles and actions of the Israeli State. You had religious violence from the Israeli State far before you had Islamic violence in the Middle East. And no, the Zealots came before the Assassins.

    For the Israeli State (I am referring to the government) to claim it’s moral right to the land based on the genocide of the Jews during the Holocaust, and then commit flagrant human rights violations time and time again for over 50 years is disgraceful. This is why there are quite a number of Jewish Israelis appalled at their government. However, unfortunately, vast amounts of Jews in the United States feed the Israeli government’s coffers– as does the U.S government. It is good to be passionate, but it is important to remain critical while doing so.

  • Mike

    There’s seems to be some selective memory of the formation of the State of Israel going on here.

    On the one hand, there’s the general consensus that “terrorists are bad.” Hamas is bad for employing terrorist techniques in seeking their own state, and ergo Israel is justified in employing draconian occupation tactics.

    On the other, there seems to be no mention of the Jewish terrorist attacks against British rule prior to the formation of the State of Israel. Menachem Begin himself (the first prime minister of Israel) led the Irgun, a terrorist group responsible for, among other things, the King David Hotel bombing. In fact, it’s not an uncommon trend for leaders of terrorist/freedom fighter groups to later become heads of nascent states…just look at the history of Algeria.

    These groups often serve as a voice for the oppressed when they either do not have a seat at the bargaining table or are unfairly represented. I’m not sure why McCain thinks that talking to Hamas is a bad thing, since it can not only prevent civilians from getting blown up, but can also instigate an amicable political solution.

  • bennett

    Michael,Josh love y’alls posts, Josh hope your finals go well, I have a couple of more myself.
    I would say Michael that the Jews having to choose Palestine was as ineitable achoice as it was a natural one. There was no way the world zionist congress was going to allow the homeland to be in Brazil or in Uganda as somedid propose, the wheel was set in motion when the first Russian Jews began settling in Palestine in the id 19th century.
    As for the selling of land, I dont know if I would call it forced in the described period, Arabs were selling land freely but where also sellng land to escapefrom groing Jewish encroachment (at this point yes it was illegal Jewish immigratio), but so much more land was bought before the 1930’s.
    As for Israel using the holocaust to justify their militancy and deny the rights of Palestinians today it is disgusting and does not seem right, but in the same breath it is understadable to me in light of the fact that so many Arab states and groups have been/are commited in priniple to nothing short but the eradication of the Jewish state,on this they do not seem to want to compromise: hence Israel has diplomatic ties to only Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, no other Middle Eastern country recognizes Israel.
    In addition Israel has essentially been at war with the entire Middle East since its creation. The Arabs were the first to declare war in ’47 though they did so after unbelievable provocation and dispossesion of Palestine.
    I would offer this qoute from David Ben Gurion, y’all have probably read it before, I find it entirely insightful: “When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves, that is only half the truth. As regards our security and life we defend ourselves,But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict, which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves.”

    Like I said earlier this history is as complicated as it is tragic, horrible and full of revenge, by all. True peace will not come with security fences and walls or with the colonization of Palestinian lands by the Israelis, it will not come so long as 24+ million Palestinians live in refugee camps in Syria Lebanon, and Jordan. Conversely Israel will never stand down so long as Arab groups and states & Iran, continue to call for its destruction and support violence aimed to that end. I offer this in conclusion, Israelis/Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, none of these groups are going to be able to hold onto to their histories and make peace at the same time, maybe that makes peace impossible?
    Shalom, a Salam a Lakum, Peace be with you all.

  • Josh

    Very true, Bennett, peace will never come so long as there is even the perception of occupation in the Middle East.

    Peace? I hate the word, as I hate Hell, and all Montagues.

  • Michel

    To think that peace is unnatainable is so rooted in nihilism that even McCain’s proposed military actions would have no sense. Peace, utopic or not, is the only objective to achieve in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Peace is the only objective we should have regarding Israel. Anda that means peace for both sides. So, yes, I support with all my heart the Obama policies of talking even with enemies. Because in the conflict both sides have commited acts of injustice and both sides need to make concessions. If they don’t, they will keep killing by the hundreds. And if you say that peace is unnatainable is because you haven’t experienced israeli bombings in your home and you whole family die. Or your neighbor’s family. Or your wife’s family. If that would happen to many of us in this board I’m sure many hot-tempered bloggers would join to forces of terrorism. The main promoter of terrorism isn’t Hamas, but the injustices and the killing by the government of Israel. And Hamas have later preyd upon this.

    To believe there’s no solution here is to show no regard for human life. And if McCain doesn’t want to do everything possible to solve the conflict, (and that includes diplomacy, even if he doesn’t want to acknowledge it) then he has no understanding or empathy for the trouble… as the military industry companies who prey on how long this conflict is by selling weapons to Israel and keep promoting the mass-murders.

    Diplomacy must be tried. Is not the only choice, but IT MUST BE ON THE TABLE. If we don’t, then we are encouraging world leaders to dismiss the importance of the lifes of the persons being killed in Israel and Palestina day by day.

  • bennett, good points. again, however, i would say there is a collapsing of differences.

    There is no unified “Arab” movement in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern States are actually some of the most fractious and self-serving States around the world.

    Furthermore, Palestinians are not treated well throughout the “Arab” countries. That, and to note that there are a hefty amount of Christian Palestinians is something many people here do not realize.

    I feel it is deplorable for a religious tradition to make land important, and thus, an issue for so many lives to be lost around it. The American Jewish tradition claims that Israel is the “land of milk and honey,” but there is nothing really agriculturally important about that land. Roughly 20% of it is arable.

    Hamas, PLO, all these groups are reacting to oppressive conditions and occupation. This is what drives them to commit violence: poverty, humiliation, and pain. Now, Israelis certainly live with pain– there are quite a number of deaths that occur from suicide bombers. But in the end, it is poverty that drives people to commit acts of violence. This and issues of occupation were the initial motivation for the Palestinians.

  • Michel

    McCain and his Iraq (and Middle East) policies, in detail:

    I urge everybody to read this.

  • Michel

    More comparisons between Obama’s foreign policies and McCain’s or Clinton’s, one of the main reasons I believe Barack Obama would be a better president of the US than the other two candidates:

  • Babs

    If you want to read policies of any of the candidates you should read it from their own websites. Then you know you have the truth.