Wednesday, April 04, 2007


by Thomas Riggins

In less than two years the American people will be going to the polls to elect a new president. The country is in the middle of one of the worse crisis it has faced since Vietnam. It has been engaged in an illegal war in Iraq, for the purposes of taking control of than nation’s vast oil reserves, under the pretenses of fighting terrorism and tyranny and spreading democracy and freedom.

Initially the American people were conned into supporting the war effort only because the president, vice president, secretaries of defense, and of state (as well as many members of Congress) knowingly lied to us about the reasons for attacking Iraq.) A now popular slogan in the anti-war movement sums this up nicely with the chant “Bush lied, people died!”

At this time it appears that the American people have decisively rejected Bush and his phony war. The stage is set for the Republicans to lose control of the White House in 2008. Losing the White House puts the neocon plans for the Middle East, and Iraq especially, in jeopardy-- it threatens the war profits of the big American corporations that are part of the military-industrial complex, especially the defense and oil sectors.

These ultra-right elements are searching for a candidate that they hope will be able to keep control of the White House for the Republicans. One of these potential candidates is Senator John McCain of Arizona. Senator McCain is a big supporter of the war, and of Bush’s recent escalation (the “surge”), and thus finds himself in the position of having to support or condone the lies that Bush has put forward to justify his position.

I think that McCain’s recent pronouncements in Iraq, widely reported in the mass media, disqualify him as a viable presidential candidate. In truth, he is not fit to be a U.S. senator. We have had a president lying to us on a daily basis for over four years about this war and we don’t want another one to to us for the next four years after the elections.

I am going to quote McCain (and some of his fellow Republicans) from their recent press conference in Iraq as reported in the New York Times (“McCain Wrong On Iraq Security, Merchants Say” by Kirk Semple, NYT 4-3-2007).

After a brief tour of Baghdad’s central market by the McCain delegation (appropriately on April Fool’s Day) in which the delegation observed the conditions on the ground and talked with Iraqi merchants and others about their existential conditions, McCain and his group announced to the press that things were looking good and Bush’s new plans were working out.

When reporters went back to the market and told the Iraqis what McCain had said they got such typical responses as “What are they talking about?” What indeed? Well here is what McCain and others in his delegation said about their visit to the market.

Representative Mike Pense (R-Indiana) said it was “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.” Since he and the others were wearing bulletproof vests during the entire visit, I don’t think I’d want to check out the summer markets in his state.

Pense also noted that, “The most deeply moving thing for me was to mix and mingle unfettered.” Part of being unfettered was due to the fact that U.S. troops cleared the area for the delegation by redirecting away traffic and by having “restricted access to the Americans.” The Iraqis were fettered.

“They paralyzed the market when they came,” one merchant remarked: “This was only for the media. This will not change anything.” By this he meant that as soon as McCain tripped off back to the Green Zone and the campaign trail, the market would revert to being bombed and people would be being killed again.

Despite the fact that everyone complained to McCain’s delegation about the lack of personal safety and the dangerousness of the market , McCain was upbeat. He said on a radio show, about the visit he had made to the market, “Things are better and there are encouraging signs. Never have I been able to go about into the city as I was today.”

Well, he went to a tiny area of the central market, cleared by U.S. troops just for him, he wore a bulletproof vest, and was accompanied by “more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees-- the equivalent of an entire company.” And that's not all. Attack helicopters circled around over head “and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs.”

I’m happy for the Senator that he was so encouraged about how safe it was for him to go about in the city. This was all so he could come back to the States and carry on his war propaganda. “Why I can tell you [ I can envision him saying ] the press is all wrong. I just returned from Iraq and believe you me things are getting better. I walked about feeling perfectly safe, just like a spring day in Phoenix.”

After hearing what McCain had said about his trip to the market, another merchant remarked that, “He is just using it for himself. They’ll just take a photo of him at our market and they will just just show it in the United States. He will win in America and we will have nothing.”

I hope he doesn’t win. What he did was, in my opinion, doubly immoral. He lied about what he actually saw and was told by the Iraqis and he intends to lie to the American people about this war and what is really happening because he is in the pocket of the military industrial complex. What is more troubling is that the insurgents make a point of attacking and blowing up places the Americans and the Iraqi government tout as safe and secure and evidence that Bush’s plans are working.

By running his media circus and inspection scam to further his presidential ambitions, McCain has endangered the lives of all those Iraqis in the market he visited. In the coming months, while they face death and maiming as a result of his sordid opportunism, he will be safe and sound in the U.S.A. telling his supporters how much better its getting in Iraq. And remember, he is only for war because he loves peace.

Thomas Riggins is the book review editor of Political Affairs and can be reached at

1 comment:

FSJL said...

McCain does seem to have a promising career in stand-up comedy, however.