Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Uncertain Future: John McCain and the Iraq War

Whether or not you've been opposed to the Iraq war since the start or are determined it should end or continue, it's hard to prove that public opinion isn't begin to swing back in favor of Bush's surge strategy. Compared with polls taken one and two months ago, the number of Americans who believe the surge is improving the situation in Iraq has risen by nearly 10%, and a similar increase in percent now say America was right to take military action against Iraq (43% now vs. 35% in May). (CBS News Polls)

If the military and security situation is improving on the ground in Fallujah and across Iraq, the long term result of America's presence in Iraq is uncertain. Presidential candidates have, with varying degrees of clarity, staked out their positions on the war and the "surge," and it's yet to be seen which Democrat or Republican can turn changing public opinion into higher poll numbers. Even more, can a swing in public opinion on the war swing the voting public towards the GOP field in 2008? These are questions with few answers at the moment.

I remember watching Colin Powell's address to the United Nations and the warnings of mushroom clouds and vials of dangerous explosives and chemicals. At that moment I was scared, and I supported Bush's move towards military action against Iraq. Every day since the invasion, however, my support for the war has dwindled, and until recently I've maintained the belief that every day the United States is in Iraq is a day too long. And now we see Democrats such as Brian Baird of Washington supporting the surge and Hillary Clinton's recent statements announcing that progress is being made. While I haven't been won over enough to believe that the situation in Iraq is completely better and we need to recommit to a long-term engagement in the country, my support of Senator John McCain's steady position on the war has risen.

Now that we've seen Hillary Clinton announce success and failure, Barack Obama go from opposition to voting for troop funding bills, and a number of other candidate's doublespeak on their positions, John McCain's unapologetic support of the war is strangely refreshing. McCain sees Iraq as being an issue above politics--one that concerns our standing in the world and the survival of our nation--just as he speaks of issues such as immigration as a national priority--more serious than the cries of "sanctuary cities" by his opponents. Instead of jockeying for position on every issue like Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, McCain has stated where he stands and held true. Unfortunately for him, Rudy vs. Mitt attacks are more interesting to listen to, and McCain has been ignored of late.

It would be a shame for America if the Senator's mismanagement of campaign funds and personnel is what dooms him in 2008. Instead, I'd like to see McCain go down with the honor that so defines him--if the war he so believes in turns sour and he's the last man standing.

Unlike his competitors, McCain is the only man with the guts to remain standing.

(all photos: © 2007 by Luke N. Vargas. All Rights Reserved.)

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