Thursday, March 20, 2008

USA: Presidential Politics and the War

Usually I stay out of US electoral politics, but after the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the occupation going into the sixth year and a large number of Americans who watch my site I decided to comment. I hear a lot about ending the war by both the Democratic candidates. When in reality none of the presidential candidates are truly for ending the war despite the widespread opposition to the continued occupation throughout the United States. Below I will detail the three candidates and their actual policies.

John McCain - Republican

John McCain of the three candidates is probably the most honest about his position on the war. He has taken the quintessential stance of the current Republican leadership that the war should have been fought and the policy title on his website is "Strategy for Victory in Iraq". John McCain is an interesting candidate in that he previously had spoken out against the administration on torture, actually served in Vietnam and, had in the past talked out against those on the strong religious right. This resulted in him being liked by people such as Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. During this election that however, changed resulting in him falling in line with the hard Republican and religious right.

McCain currently wishes for more funding for security forces and reconstruction. He wants to keep senior officials in place instead of rotating them, put pressure on Syria and Iran, convince the American people that it is important to stay in Iraq called "Win the homefront" on his website and, ultimately has no plan for ever withdrawing unless the Iraqi's 'stand up'. Which at the moment they seem to be doing just against each other and against US rule.

Hillary Clinton - Democrat

Clinton's website may be very against the war with the title "Ending the War in Iraq" and quotes such as "Our message to the president is clear. It is time to begin ending this war -- not next year, not next month -- but today." These seem like more rhetoric then anything as her end to the war would still include tens of thousands of troops left in Iraq.

Clinton's campaign has been run on that she is the candidate with experience. When we look at her experience we also see a telling history. Clinton while her husband was President always supported his actions including bombings of Iraq and sanctions that resulted in the deaths of untold Iraqis. When she was acting as a Senator of New York she voted for the invasion and has not once truly apologized for that action. She sat on the Armed Services Committee during that time and, rarely created real opposition to the continuing occupation and, up until recently had not even acknowledged private military contractors. Clinton since a statement by the Obama team has now joined legislation to ban private contractors including groups such as Blackwater, but this has been a obviously political move not one based on ethics.

Barack Obama - Democrat

Obama has been touted by many to be the anti-war candidate. He made a speech against the invasion of Iraq prior to the invasion and in comparison to the other two candidates has a fairly clear history. Obama is believed to be a bridge due to his ethnic background, eloquent persona and, relative blank slate. Although, he has been better then the other candidates on the issue of Iraq, but is not anti-war. He may have the rhetoric of ending the war.

Of all the candidates Obama has probably the most comprehensive policy on foreign policy, but that includes being staunchly pro-Isreal, enlarging the US military, sending more forces to Afghanistan and, keeping 'residual forces' in Iraq. These residual forces would include 40-80 thousand forces as well as keeping in place the private contractors of which there are currently around 180 thousand which are not accurately kept in line. The US Embassy (which is less an embassy and more a giant military Americanized zone) and the green zone would still be kept in place under Obama's plan.

Ultimately I would like it to be understood that the rhetoric put out in the media about ending the war is anything but true by these candidates. Though Senator Obama seems to have the most comprehensive foreign policy plan he too is not anti-war and that should be understood. I ultimately do not support any candidate nor do I think a Canadian has the need to do so or not, but sadly what happens in those elections will effect Canada, Iraq, Afghanistan and, the rest of the world.

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