Topic: Government

Senator John McCain

Ever since Viet Nam, the primary weapon in the arsenal of those fighting the United States has been the manipulation of U.S. public opinion, aided and abetted by the U. S. press, college campuses, and politicos whose sole concern is their poll numbers. Osama Bin Laden was convinced that America would recede into submissiveness rather than engage in genuine combat, and had some national figures been at the helm (Jimmy Carter, Rep. Denis Kucinich, Howard Dean), he would have been right. Now American weariness with the steady media mantra of gloom and the daily bombings by terrorists (and misled by the persistent “Bush Lied” tactic by Democrats, among the most cynical and disgraceful examples of unprincipled opportunism by a political party since the race-based Republican strategies of the ’60s and ’70s) has produced a downturn in public support for the American role in Iraq. This would traditionally be the time when American leaders would do what leaders must do: lead, rather than follow; tell the public that a job must be done and that what is required is not abandonment and capitulation, but patience, sacrifice, fortitude and courage. Not in 21st Century America, however, where Republicans worry only about holding onto power, and Democrats believe that they need to genuflect to the arrested adolescents at Move-On.Org.

Accordingly, the Senate passed an amendment urging a time-table for American withdrawal from Iraq. Had these “summer soldiers,” to use Thomas Paine’s famous description, been around in 1776, 1862, or 1942 they would have similarly been calling for American withdrawal. Their lack of fortitude and principle, meshing nicely with much of the public’s lack of historical perspective and short attention span, may yet prove Osama right.

But not if Senator John McCain has anything to say about it. Here he is, writing in the New York Post under the headline, “Aiding and Abetting”:

…the Senate considered two amendments this week, one of which was approved with 79 votes… In the version that passed, 2006 is designated as “a period of significant transition to full sovereignty . . . thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq.”

…Anyone reading the amendment gets the sense that the Senate’s foremost objective is the draw-down of American troops. What it should have said is that America’s first goal in Iraq is not to withdraw troops, but to win the war. All other policy decisions we make should support, and be subordinate to, the successful completion of our mission…Morality, national security and the honor our fallen deserve all compel us to see our mission in Iraq through to victory. But the amendment suggests a different priority. It signals that withdrawal, not victory, is foremost in Congress’ mind, and suggests that we are more interested in exit than victory.

…To suggest that it is only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near. It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks. ..Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?

The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.

We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.

These are words that follow the tradition of Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt, and that embody the qualities that have allowed America to prevail again and again against worse odds and more determined opposition. Senator McCain, not for the first time, achieves Ethics Hero status on the Scoreboard by having the courage to lead when the “summer soldiers” are losing heart. McCain has done this by reminding America of the simple formula that has always served the country, the world, and humanity, best:

…Our friends and our enemies need to hear one message: America is committed to success, and we will win this war.

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