Robert Dreyfus: McCain's Neocon Reflection: War Is On His Mind

I used to have a belief that his push for the surge was a calculated political maneuver aimed at trying to out Bush---Bush so to speak at his own gam

I used to have a belief that his push for the surge was a calculated political maneuver aimed at trying to out Bush---Bush so to speak at his own game, but after watching this clip and studied his behavior closely I have to say that he's just another bloody---warmonger. Robert Dreyfus explains to Amy Goodman how close his ties are to the Neocon's and how prominent their influence is over him. He's a super freak of the AEI vision of America's role in world affairs. Instead of learning the lessons Vietnam taught us, he blew them off and is now solidly for American military intervention at all costs.

icon Download icon Download (h/t Heather)

Elect John McCain and you'll receive a continuation of the Neocon agenda with a twist of lime. It's that simple and may God help us all.

Transcript via Democracy Now's Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Robert Dreyfuss, investigative reporter, contributing editor at The Nation magazine. His latest piece is called "Hothead McCain." McCain famously said that US forces might end up staying in Iraq for 100 years. What role did John McCain play in the surge and in shaping, if he did, any part of President Bush's policy in Iraq, the war?

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Oh, I would say that of all the politicians in the United States, McCain was number one in a crucial moment, when the President, President Bush, had to decide whether to accept the Baker-Hamilton report, which called for phasing out US combat forces over a period of sixteen months or alternatively escalating the war. And at that time, McCain was the number one voice in calling for an escalation. He had traveled to Iraq. He had said we need more troops. I believe he was calling for at least 50,000 troops. He worked closely along with Senator Lieberman, who's now his traveling companion. McCain and Lieberman spoke at the American Enterprise Institute and worked closely with Robert and Frederick Kagan, who—Frederick Kagan, in particular, who is at AEI and was the author of the report that led to the surge and was brought into the administration by Vice President Cheney, who went over to AEI and consulted with them. It was that team—Kagan, McCain, Lieberman and Cheney—who convinced the President to go with the escalation a year ago in January.


↓ Story continues below ↓

And McCain was not only advocating the surge, but really pushing, and is today pushing, for a long-term presence by the United States in Iraq, using Iraq as an aircraft carrier to support American power throughout the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and Central Asia. And his advisers told me so. When I spoke to Randy Scheunemann at length, he said, in fact, yes, we want to stay in Iraq for a long time, not just to stabilize Iraq, but because we may have to deal with many threats from the region. And of course you have to include Iran as among the possible threats that we'd have to deal with, according to McCain.

So I would say that McCain and the surge are almost identical, and it's McCain who we have to thank for the fact that two years ago we didn't start withdrawing from Iraq, but in fact escalated to the point where the next president will have probably 130,000 troops on the ground when he or she takes office.

AMY GOODMAN: And the others in the neocon circle, the advisers, like, for example, Bill Kristol, like Max Boot, tell us about their involvement.

ROBERT DREYFUSS: You know, it's very interesting, Amy. If you look at the list of people who say they're advising the McCain camp, you find a broad range of people. You find people like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Larry Eagleburger. These are the traditional kind of Nixon-era realists, many of whom certainly wouldn't be considered liberals, but who certainly are realists. But when you look at McCain's positions, his views on things, you don't find any of the influence of people like Eagleburger and Scowcroft.

What you see instead is that the rest of McCain's advisers, and you named several of them—James Woolsey, the former CIA director, who has been traveling and campaigning with McCain and who I interviewed for this piece; Bill Kristol, who's very close to McCain for probably a decade and has been kind of an angel sitting on his shoulder and whispering in his ear all that time; people like Scheunemann; people like Max Boot; Ralph Peters; there's a long list of people who have joined the McCain advisory team—and it's these people whom McCain listens to when it comes to foreign policy. He certainly hasn't expressed anything in any foreign policy area that you would identify with the Republican realist camp. He's much closer to the neocons.

And he seems to be, as I said earlier, the true neocon himself, someone who, after early in his career in the '80s being kind of suspicious about some foreign interventions that happened at that time, at the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union collapsed, McCain seemed to have felt unburdened, like now American power can express itself. And that's when he attached himself to the neoconservative vision that America, as the sole superpower, could throw its weight around, could remake the world in its own image and that there would be no effective opposition to it.

When I look at McCain, though, I have to say, I go back to Vietnam. This is a man whose father and grandfather were extremely conservative, even rightwing admirals, who served in Vietnam until he was shot down and held as a POW, conducting air raid missions, dropping napalm on Hanoi and other cities in North Vietnam, who learned from that and became convinced that American military power, if it's constrained by politics, was unable to win that war. And so, he took out of Vietnam not the lesson that we shouldn't get into land wars in Asia or that fighting guerrilla counterinsurgency efforts might not be the task that America's military is most suited for; what he learned in Vietnam is that we need to take the gloves off, that the politicians need to get out of the way and let the military do its job.

And that's precisely the message that he's adopted in approaching Iraq. I think to this day, McCain thinks that the Vietnam War could have been won if we had just stayed another five or ten or fifteen years, and he seems exactly prepared to do that in Iraq, despite all evidence to the contrary that we can't do anything in Iraq other than sit on a very ugly stalemate that, you know, continues to blow up and flare into violence.

About John Amato

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.