Why Stake Everything On Iraq?

A few days ago, John McCain remarked to reporters that to win the upcoming election, he must convince the American people that the current strategy in Iraq is succeeding.  If he can't do this, he admitted, "then I lose.  I lose."  While McCain quickly backed away from his stark political analysis, he conceded that the war "will be a significant factor in how the American people judge my candidacy." 

As I argued a few days ago, the domestic political situation does not look favorably upon McCain's steadfast support for the war and his refusal, to date, to offer any new thinking or strategies aimed at ending the U.S. military engagement in that country.

From a partisan Republican perspective, I cannot understand McCain's decision to stake so much of his presidential hopes on maintaining the Bush Administration's approach to the Iraq War.   After all, the American people resoundingly repudiated the Republican Party in the 2006 midterm elections in large part over the war.  Why would McCain believe that 2008 will be different?

Assuming the American people call McCain's bluff and elect Barack Obama as the next president, which is a real possibility, it is important to keep in mind that much, much more will be lost to Republicans than simply the ability to determine when and how U.S. troops leave Iraq.

Electing a Democratic president will mean that Republicans will lose control over the entire federal bureaucracy, including the State Department, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies. 

It will mean that Republicans will lose control over the military. 

It will mean that Republicans will lose control over the foreign policy establishment, including embassies, ambassadors, the CIA, the NSA, and other intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies and operatives.

It will mean that Republicans will lose control over the "war on terror."

It will mean Democrats, not Republicans, will chart the nation's strategy for dealing with the challenges and dangers posed by a growing China and a resurgent Russia.  

It will mean that Republicans will lose the bully pulpit. 

It will mean that Democrats, not Republicans, will set the domestic agenda on taxes, spending, entitlements, health care, immigration, and other crucial issues.

It will mean that Republicans will lose the ability to appoint judges to the federal bench, including the Supreme Court.  Note that 3-5 Supreme Court Justices will be retiring in the next 8 years.  This means that conservatives and constitutionalists are in danger of losing the Supreme Court for another generation.

It will mean that Republicans will lose, period. 

Barack Obama's election as President of the United States will be the coup de grace for the Republican Party as the "majority" party in this country.  Whether the party can hold together over the next 8 years (or more) as an out-of-power political afterthought is an open question.  The party very well may fracture into its conservative, libertarian, and liberal parts.  Then there will be no effective political opposition to the increasingly leftist agenda of the Democratic Party.  

In my opinion, for McCain to risk all of this for the sake of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq -- or rather, for the sake of vowing to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, when everyone knows that our troops must come home eventually -- is deeply foolish politics.  Plainly, McCain was astute enough to recognize that he had to modify his positions on immigration, tax cuts, and other important issues, to bolster his presidential campaign.  Perhaps it is the military man inside of him that prevents him from similarly modifying his position on Iraq. 

Nevertheless, if John McCain and his supporters truly believe - as I do - that Republican leadership is vitally important for the safety, liberty, and prosperity of the country, then it is grossly irresponsible to stake it all on a stubborn refusal to offer the American people a way out of Iraq.  This is all the American people want.  Their patience is not yet exhausted, but they want to see that "change" is coming. 

This refers to the Iraq War above all else.

Steven M. Warshawsky  smwarshawsky@hotmail.com  




A few days ago, John McCain remarked to reporters that to win the upcoming election, he must convince the American people that the current strategy in Iraq is succeeding.  If he can't do this, he admitted, "then I lose.  I lose."  While McCain quickly backed away from his stark political analysis, he conceded that the war "will be a significant factor in how the American people judge my candidacy." 

As I argued a few days ago, the domestic political situation does not look favorably upon McCain's steadfast support for the war and his refusal, to date, to offer any new thinking or strategies aimed at ending the U.S. military engagement in that country.

From a partisan Republican perspective, I cannot understand McCain's decision to stake so much of his presidential hopes on maintaining the Bush Administration's approach to the Iraq War.   After all, the American people resoundingly repudiated the Republican Party in the 2006 midterm elections in large part over the war.  Why would McCain believe that 2008 will be different?

Assuming the American people call McCain's bluff and elect Barack Obama as the next president, which is a real possibility, it is important to keep in mind that much, much more will be lost to Republicans than simply the ability to determine when and how U.S. troops leave Iraq.

Electing a Democratic president will mean that Republicans will lose control over the entire federal bureaucracy, including the State Department, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies. 

It will mean that Republicans will lose control over the military. 

It will mean that Republicans will lose control over the foreign policy establishment, including embassies, ambassadors, the CIA, the NSA, and other intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies and operatives.

It will mean that Republicans will lose control over the "war on terror."

It will mean Democrats, not Republicans, will chart the nation's strategy for dealing with the challenges and dangers posed by a growing China and a resurgent Russia.  

It will mean that Republicans will lose the bully pulpit. 

It will mean that Democrats, not Republicans, will set the domestic agenda on taxes, spending, entitlements, health care, immigration, and other crucial issues.

It will mean that Republicans will lose the ability to appoint judges to the federal bench, including the Supreme Court.  Note that 3-5 Supreme Court Justices will be retiring in the next 8 years.  This means that conservatives and constitutionalists are in danger of losing the Supreme Court for another generation.

It will mean that Republicans will lose, period. 

Barack Obama's election as President of the United States will be the coup de grace for the Republican Party as the "majority" party in this country.  Whether the party can hold together over the next 8 years (or more) as an out-of-power political afterthought is an open question.  The party very well may fracture into its conservative, libertarian, and liberal parts.  Then there will be no effective political opposition to the increasingly leftist agenda of the Democratic Party.  

In my opinion, for McCain to risk all of this for the sake of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq -- or rather, for the sake of vowing to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, when everyone knows that our troops must come home eventually -- is deeply foolish politics.  Plainly, McCain was astute enough to recognize that he had to modify his positions on immigration, tax cuts, and other important issues, to bolster his presidential campaign.  Perhaps it is the military man inside of him that prevents him from similarly modifying his position on Iraq. 

Nevertheless, if John McCain and his supporters truly believe - as I do - that Republican leadership is vitally important for the safety, liberty, and prosperity of the country, then it is grossly irresponsible to stake it all on a stubborn refusal to offer the American people a way out of Iraq.  This is all the American people want.  Their patience is not yet exhausted, but they want to see that "change" is coming. 

This refers to the Iraq War above all else.

Steven M. Warshawsky  smwarshawsky@hotmail.com