As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, May 03, 2008

How Many Years Until 100 Years?

The unstoppable whine from the RNC over Democratic message dominance on John McCain's "100 years in Iraq" comments has now morphed into "you stole footage from a terrorist Michael Moore!"

[T]he Republican National Committee has learned that the ad features footage from Michael Moore’s 2004 conspiracy theory, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

According to ABC News, the ad features “an IED blowing up near US soldiers,” an image ABC confirms that was used in “Fahrenheit 9/11.” It is no coincidence that the same Democrat [sic] advertising firm that produced this ad also was responsible for producing over $6.5 million worth of Democrat [sic] political advertising using themes from “Fahrenheit 9/11″ in 2004.

Since the RNC doesn't produce ads with anything but that one shot of a gay immigrant terrorist performing an abortion while filing a lawsuit to prevent wiretapping (I think Zapruder had it on one of his old reels), they might not know that there's such a thing as stock footage libraries, and anyone can buy clips from them, and that's what Moore did, and that's what the DNC did. Actually the one time the RNC did experience the purchase of stock footage, they appeared to get it from Osama's Terrorist Training Video & Tackle Shop.

If one were so inclined, one could point to the RNC ad from 2006 that used footage of Osama bin Laden taken from Al-Jazeera and use it to question whether the RNC is too closed aligned with Al-Jazeera. That would be silly, but one could do so, right?

“Looks like the shoes on the other footage,” e-mailed Mike Gehrke, self-described “DNC Research Director and Joke Plagiarist.” “We won’t be intimidated by a candidate desperately trying to avoid his own record — or his lawyers.”

Of course, focusing on trivialities like footage origins is just what the RNC would like to do, as a way to deflect the impact of McCain's comments. As much as they'd like to spin them into some fantasy of a 100-year peaceful presence in the heart of the Middle East (you know, like Korea or Japan or Germany), the bottom line is, as Ron Brownstein notes in an excellent piece, McCain hasn't explained what all those troops would be doing in Iraq, and how long he'd be willing to keep combat forces there until such a peaceful presence would be reached.

First, if McCain doesn't envision a 100-year American front-line combat presence in Iraq, how long is he willing to keep U.S. forces in that role? So far, all he has said is that the United States should withdraw only if it concludes that the Iraq mission is unachievable or when it has achieved success, which he defines as the establishment of "a peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic state." [...]

McCain has not said when, but he has pledged that Iraqi units will eventually assume the major combat responsibility. That prompts the next question McCain should address: What would then become the mission for the U.S. forces he wants to maintain in Iraq? McCain hasn't specified. But he has suggested that their job would be to deter external aggression, much as in South Korea where our troops "served as a buffer against invasion from North Korea."

In that example, however, the U.S. and South Korea agreed that North Korea posed a threat. The American troop presence in Germany and Japan long rested on a similar agreement about the potential danger from the Soviet Union, notes Ivo Daalder, a Brookings Institution senior fellow in foreign policy.

Although the U.S. considers Iran the most pressing external danger to Iraq, "the overwhelming majority of Iraqis don't see Iran as a threat," Daalder says. "They see it as a partner." If a threat from Iran isn't the motivation, Al Qaeda might provide the most likely justification for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq. But if Al Qaeda remains a threat there, conditions would likely not meet McCain's standard that American troops are no longer at risk.

McCain and the RNC's explanation is gobbledygook, and while a significant portion of the traditional media has lapped it up, Brownstein raises the crucial questions. McCain wouldn't have combat forces leave Iraq until it was stable, and won't say what would meet the standard of stability, so until he does, it's natural to assume he would spend 100 years there or more trying to find the pony. He spins the comments by describing a desired end state without explaining how we get there or when. Oh, and the price tag for such a commitment? A couple trillion dollars.

And this of course is almost the least troubling of McCain's foreign policy stances, the fact that he finds it OK to go to war for oil and the fact that he wants to kick Russia out of the G8 and essentially restart the Cold War are just as dangerous. And also fantastical.

The Group of Eight, or G-8, as it’s popularly known, makes decisions by consensus, so no single nation can kick out another. Most experts say the six other countries — Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada — would never agree to toss Russia, given their close economic ties to their neighbor. A senior U.S. official who deals with Russia policy said that even Moscow would have to approve of its own ouster, given how the G-8 works.

”It’s not even a theoretical discussion. It’s an impossible discussion,” said the senior official, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. “It’s just a dumb thing.”

McCain '08: It's just a dumb thing.

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