In the Arena

What John McCain Doesn’t Know

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Reuters

Senator McCain made a well-publicized trip to Syria and may have posed with extremist kidnappers.

I don’t blame McCain for this. It’s hard to advance a trip into rebel territory. A few years ago, McCain made a well-publicized walk through a Baghdad market, didn’t get shot at, and pronounced major progress in Iraq afterward. A few weeks later, I made the same walk but actually spoke to the shopkeepers—all of whom were supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shi’ite militia leader.

The point is: We just don’t know these places well enough to go over and draw grand conclusions about policy. In a way, McCain’s trip is a perfect metaphor for the problem of involving ourselves with the Syrian rebels. We may be siding with the greater evil. We may be throwing fuel on a fire that could consume the region. Our track record when it comes to such things is dismal.

It is frustrating to watch Syria unravel, especially for those of us who have great affection for the Syrian people. (Damascus is one of my favorite cities in the region.) It is possible that our involvement might tamp down the slaughter—but far more likely that it will be seen as another neo-colonial intervention that will only make things worse. (Israel, on the other hand, has a direct national interest in making sure that Assad and, especially, Hizballah, don’t receive weapons from Russia or Iran that will change the balance of power in the region.)

We may be heading for a regional Sunni-Shi’a confrontation. It could last a decade or more.  We should be prepared to involve ourselves diplomatically in an aggressive fashion. We should be ready with humanitarian assistance when necessary. But we must be very, very careful–as President Obama has been–about military involvement of any sort.

69 comments
drudown
drudown

Dear Sen. McCain:

Let's cut the personal BS because, at the end of the day, policies either help the People of the United States, or they don't. What anyone thinks of me, you, President Obama, his detractors, people that own guns, people that don't own guns, elected officials, foreign nationals living here, and everything in between is not relevant to the threshold issue. We are debating policies, and you or anyone in the world can step forward and answer the pertinent inquiries expressed herein. For if you have a clearer understanding, I would prefer to be the wiser after hearing it. But I think you are making a grave mistake advocating further military entanglement in the Middle East. I think you are making a grave mistake granting “amnesty” without actually raising the money to pay for the foreseeable costs to support new citizens and actually erect a functional border. So let me place my dispassionate observations on the eyelashes. 

There should be a threshold agreement across partisan lines that a strong, stable, competent and efficient government at the state, federal and municipal level is desirable. A government that provides the basic essentials in order to create more disposable income for the People to consume goods, flourish and be educated. There is no benefit to the People if they pay a reasonably comparable level of taxation and receive substandard education, poor public services and pay much more in Health Care costs because uninsured (e.g., foreign nationals in CA) are making the business of Health Care unduly expensive on account of structural and administrative deficiencies. I make these inferences dispassionately. There is a reason why the United States is literally the "second home" for the entire world. It is the canvas upon which the seeds of the Earth are most widely spread, and the inclusive fitness of the inherent genetic diversity, coupled with the added benefit of so many different cultures, makes it the de facto hub of the World Economy. Any economist will tell you that the reason the stock market is so strong is that it is "the lesser of evils" in terms of investment vehicles. Why does your party want to leave arguably the most precious “asset” of the United Stated unguarded and its regulation underfunded? I see no good in this.

Sounds like you guys are as stuck on “messaging” as you are Benghazi. I see.

So too, is politics a function of "the lesser of two evils". Instead of dispassionately accepting this fundamental fact, you and your ilk choose to focus on irrelevant side shows, personal shortcomings and choose form over substance. Most egregiously, the GOP that I grew up following has seemingly become the "sell out" party. Stated differently, the fundamental ruling charter of the entire GOP (“no new revenue”) is like a knife all blade: it cuts the People's hand when used. 

Tell me, what exactly is "preferable" about a "no new taxes, ever" policy that will foreseeably result in greater wealth inequality, societal decay, less services, less educated population, poorer foreign national services, less parks and recreation, less funds for new stadiums and public venues, less resources after natural disasters, a weaker military, weaker DOD/CIA/FBI and, above all, far less fiscal resources to not only "police" our markets and ensure consumer protections, but also, to literally police our jurisdiction and provide all the relief services that will inevitably ensue with climate change. 

You see, that's the "smoking gun" that my GOP party sold out, i.e., they (literally) contend "it is the greatest hoax in the history of mankind." - Sen. Inhofe. You know, that scares people because, unlike the purported ability of Saddam to launch an imaginary nuclear missile at NYC, NYC will eventually be underwater. My god, even Ron Burgundy knows to think otherwise means you actually are using half your brain. "It's science." 

Gee, a fortified border might come in handy when resources become scarce and, say, world famine ensued. Never mind. Benghazi. “How is it is that we are never going to know what we cannot know if nobody actually has personal knowledge of what we’re asking?” Sounds worse than a snake eating its tail, not Watergate.

I digress, back to this special interest mess.

Here, it's just the suffocating influence of Soft Money. And I would be doing the truth a disservice to allege President Obama's party doesn't feel the weight of special interests. But how can anyone- even you- credibly contend that President Obama's insistence on RAISING REVENUE didn't materially reduce the deficit, strengthen the dollar and dispel the shopworn GOP fiction that even a mild increase on the wealthiest Americans will, what, "kill jobs" and "ruin the economy"? Actually, I see completely different data and can only imagine how vibrant the economy would be if ALL corporate tax loopholes closed. They all get the benefit of selling wares and services in the jurisdiction of the United States. Everybody- even those presently paying no taxes or on welfare- should "pay to play". Unfortunately, in the GOP world, even entertaining a higher tax on anything is "treasonous", though to hastily negate something the People can benefit from seems worse. 

And so your party shall endure the election curse.

PrinceHabibu
PrinceHabibu

What john mccain doesn't know: how to win an election. Boom oh snap. Oh no he didn't. Lol. In all seriousness though, mccain can take a 100 of these trips and wouldn't have made a diffrence.This isn't a battle between rebels and syria as much as it is one between the US and the Russians and so far the russians have not been willing to back off. All these calls for american or NATO airstrikes are absurd if not irresponsible. Keep in mind russia still has an active military naval base in syria. During these potential airstrikes, if even one.russian cat is harmed on this base, or one vessel is scratched, it would be an act of war against the russians, and that is a dark path that no nato nation is even willing to entertain, certainly none that isnt the US since even all of them combined stand no chance against russia without the US. So.until.the russians can be convinced to abandon this.current syrian regime, mccain has much a chance of toppling it as he has of becoming the US president, boom again.

mjshep
mjshep

For a piece titled, "What John McCain Doesn’t Know" this sis far too short an article.  I'm thinking more like at least  five or six hundred pages.

SpikeLee
SpikeLee

"I don’t blame McCain for this."


John McCain is not responsible for the plans, actions, or sayings of John McCain.

sacredh
sacredh

"What John McCain Doesn’t Know"

That he's NOT the president would be high on my list.

destor23
destor23

Much as I want to make fun of McCain here, this is the perfect metaphor to explain the risks of our getting more involved.  Folks who want to "arm the rebels" are having a tough time convincing me they can separate good from bad.

Lexx
Lexx

Good to see that people are catching on, I have been calling McCain a senile bafoon for years. Its not what he knows or doesn't know is what worries me most; it's the electorate in Arizona is what leaves me scratching my head. How does a low achiever like him graduate West Point at all, never mind that it was bottom of his class. And then there's Jan Brewer, another genius elected in Arizona. 

I bet those two had a fling and had Sarah Palin as a child. Certianly would explain a lot huh? lmao

FrankMonroy
FrankMonroy

This is a job for Germany, France and Britain. They all have a history of colonial exploitation of this poor people.

fred.fries6
fred.fries6

Your assessment of this article may be correct, on the other hand I personally would much rather see the U.S. befriend the Syrian people than some other countries I can think of. Maybe we don't always get it right but at least we try.  Would you rather just let Syria go and let countries like Iran and other detrimental countries commandeer and exploit the Syrian situation, because they most certainly will if you let them and it won't be pretty.  Besides Israel isn't about to allow that and for all the right reason.  It is unfortunate that Syria has been let to be destroyed as much as it has.  The Syrian people definitely need outside help, but, that has to be done thoughtfully and totally for the Syrian people and for no other reason.  There is certainly terrorist groups and others around the world who are quite willing to plunder what is left of Syria and turn it into their domain much the same as they tried to do in Afghanistan and some other countries I can think of.

Yes, you can turn the other cheek and ignore the whole thing, but I guarantee that the opposition won't and they will have gained another foothold at the expense of the Syrian people.  I don't believe I has seen this much ethnic cleansing since WWII and whats worse this time is the west is letting it happen, what a shame!   They ought to know better.

TomSorensen
TomSorensen

To bad they didn't take him prisoner that is one thing he has experience with as for keeping his nose out of other people problems he sucks

Sue_N
Sue_N

"What John McCain doesn't know"

Jack?

Gstone
Gstone

Cannibalism, execution of unarmed prisoners, kidnapping and forcing children to behead the enemy. You'd be forgiven for thinking I was describing Assad's oppressive regime, but I am talking about atrocities committed by the leadership group of Syrian Rebels (some well supported by the US). 

swagger
swagger

he's not the president, he is not part of the state department or any department of the administration.  he went to syria on memorial day ignoring his fellow brothers in arms acting if he were an official government official when he is actually a loose cannon trouble maker trying to undermine our real policy.

DanEngland
DanEngland

Its time these silly old white men like McCain and Graham stop putting America's human treasure and economic treasure in harms way for people who essentially hate us. McCain was a POW in a war long before many of those he'd put in harms way was even alive. It's time for that old man to quietly retire to his rocking chair.

pervezbeg
pervezbeg

We have no business there it is their war let them figure out. Result of Iraq and Afghanistan is in front of us.  

TyPollard
TyPollard

Here is my article on what McCain KNOWS.

"                                                                                                                                                  "

gysgt213
gysgt213

"What John McCain Doesn’t Know"

Would stop a team of oxen dead in their tracks.

MoisesIssi
MoisesIssi

What Joe Klein doesn't know.

Joe, if we stay iddle watching this liberation group being butcher by the Assad regime, if they manage to overthrow the government, which may turn out to be highly likely, they will perceive us as enemies for sure and god knows what may that lead in the future. However, you are right in that we can't predict what may happen one way or another. This is why the answer should be based on principles not on what can we get out of the situation. Either way we may get something good or bad and we may never know.

MrObvious
MrObvious

A Much shorter article would be 'what McCain knows'. Practically a zinger 1 liner.

Irony
Irony

When you title an article "What John McCain doesn't know" it's practically criminal for the article in question to be less than a billion words.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

McCain always has such interesting perspectives as a result of these visits. 

"Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya -- interesting meeting with an interesting man. "

HarryDangler
HarryDangler

McCain continues to prove that he's just another  old white Republican  fool.  What DID them Viet Congs do to him?  Vietnam Candidate just waiting to be activated?

gysgt213
gysgt213

Sarah Palin.  Need I say more?

DanBruce
DanBruce

I read the title of this article, "What John McCain Doesn't Know," and now I am curious when volumes 2-24 will be published?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

You go McCain, perhaps you can create the next Bin Laden who will attack us again twenty years from now.

MrObvious
MrObvious

I'm sure any Syrian radical that we arm will thank us later in person at some point. What's going on in Syria is heart wrenching. But it's a civil war. Civil wars are by nature muddled awful affairs. And it's insane to get involved in them.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

Indeed, has arming rebels anywhere, anytime served the United States well in the long run?