Thursday, February 14, 2008

McCain's Insane Analogy

I suppose the whole thing could be dismissed as mere rhetoric:

Q: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years -- " (cut off by McCain)

McCain: "Make it a hundred."

Q: "Is that ..." (cut off)

McCain: "We've been in South Korea ... we've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans ..."

Q: [tries to say something]

McCain: "As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That's fine with me, I hope that would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Queada is training and equipping and recruiting and motivating people every single day.

And yet, I think actually this is just another example of the same kind of delusional fantasy that got us into Iraq in the first place. Comparing Japan or South Korea to Iraq is crazy and totally ahistorical.

The occupation of the Japanese mainland did not involve fighting with insurgents, it involved the quick and effective transformation of a broken unified enemy into a functional state governed by the rule of law and the establishment of a representative government. It involved the active cooperation of the Emperor, not his hanging, but his active involvement as a source of stability in a new constitutional order. It involved the transformation of military power into economic power. The US presence in Japan after the Occupation ended has been peaceful (except for the crimes committed by American soldiers), but it always was. My late uncle Lee Weinberger, who was stationed in Japan soon after the occupation remembered those times fondly. All the vets do/did, because they had a great time. Does anyone expect an Iraqi version of The Teahouse of the August Moon? Hardly a hardship assignment, throughout the post-war period, going to Japan, like assignment in any peaceful country where the local population is friendly, was and is safe and usually fun compared to entering a war zone in Korea, Vietnam, or now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Korean War is obviously of a very different character than WW2. An important part of the Cold War, it was also a civil war. Once the border was demarcated, North Korean insurgents/terrorists/soldiers were a source of relatively minor conflict, but such scattered incidents do not make for effective comparisons to Iraq. Consider also the fact that many South Koreans are members of American Protestant denominations and the comparison really makes no sense.

The idea that staying in Iraq will be peaceful is nonsense because as long as we are in Iraq ,Americans will be harmed and will have to live in bunkers. And the reason for that is that we have destroyed Iraqi society and replaced it with multiple conflicting units that seem unlikely to ever reach a consensus.

The surge may have reduced the level of conflict, it may be beating Al Quada, but it will not stop Sunnis from killing Shiates. We should stabilize our relations with the Kurds (and help them stabilize theirs with the Turks), help put a very loose federal system in place, and get out. All else is the madness of old men with a poor grasp of the history of the 20th Century. McCain's rhetoric reveals both ignorance and delusion. He should scare you.