TW: Imperialism, Neo-Colonialism
Perhaps it’s the now famous soft spot the media has for John McCain, but they’ve been happily ignoring that as the only speaker at either the Republican National Convention (RNC) or the first night of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to directly discuss international conflicts, he’s advocated for an American Empire.
A week ago today, McCain spoke glowingly of the duty of any American government to assist the downtrodden:
“Sadly, for the lonely voices of dissent in Syria, and Iran, and elsewhere, who feel forgotten in their darkness, and sadly for us, as well, our president is not being true to our values. For the sake of the cause of freedom, for the sake of people who are willing to give their lives so their fellow citizens can determine their own futures and for the sake of our nation – the nation founded on the idea that all people, everywhere, have the right to freedom and justice – we must return to our best traditions of American leadership, and support those who face down the brutal tyranny of their oppressors and our enemies.”
He continued on, insisting that the protracted revolutionary struggles in Iran and Syria (and by implication elsewhere) have wanted and needed American support, potentially even military assistance. As he did in 2008, he’s lent his voice to the extremists in American and in Iran who want a conflict, and have begun or will begin patrolling the other nation’s waters (which practically begs for another Gulf of Tonkin casus belli). In his zeal for endless American war and occupation in the Islamic world, he’s ignored UN appeals for no military intervention in Syria, as even the most distant support of Russia has prolonged the conflict. The United Nations has failed to see the glorious battle for human rights in Syria that McCain somehow perceives, as their Secretary General was paraphrased as noting:
“both the Syrian government and the opposition of large-scale human rights violations, including torturing and reportedly executing prisoners and failing to protect civilians who are fleeing the country in record numbers.”
McCain, whether ignorant or dismissive of the UN Secretary General’s counter-point, remains convinced of the usefulness of military assistance, if not direct military action.
In his speech, McCain also chided the President for implementing a distant timeline for removing troops from Afghanistan “before peace can be achieved and sustained”. He has a point that the Afghani government is in over its head, as it’s taken to mass firings of military recruits that have even the flimsiest connection to the Taliban or other insurgent groups. But as Al-Jazeera coverage argued in the week before his speech –
“the ISAF/NATO mission [in Afghanistan] was simply to decrease the size of the [undemocratic] ‘black space’ and increase the size of the [pluralistic, democratic] ‘white space’. Thanks to their efforts, the democratic space is acknowledged by all of us. But the harsh reality is the emergence of a vast grey space and an increasing size of the black space. This ‘grey area’ consists of complex layers of corruption, bad governance, unemployment, political disunity, alienation and poverty. Against this backdrop, the democratic space is too fragile and vulnerable.”
The poverty, social and economic isolation, political dysfunction, systemic exploitation, and other negative forces in Afghan society are overwhelming. In complaining that the United States is leaving before building a peaceful, democratic, and pluralistic society, McCain has presumed that such a goal is possible. McCain was likewise quite clear, less than a year ago, in dramatically opposing the withdrawal from Iraq – or as he called it giving “victory to Iran”.
At this point, it’s quite clear that John McCain wants to see a blazed path of war or occupation by American forces stretching from the Mediterranean deep into Central Asia.
(John McCain has expressed interest in the past year in at least remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan and attacking or occupying Syria and Iran. He has likewise made statements suggesting he would not remove military conflict with Pakistan from the table.)
The countries shaded in the above map have a combined population of approximately 155 million. John McCain wants us to make war against or occupy the territory of a portion of the Islamic world with roughly half the population of the United States. If you include Pakistan (hatched in the map above) in the population and regional estimations, as we could be considered to be unofficially at war within that country, much like Cambodia or Laos during the Vietnam War, the United States would be impacting or combating a population larger than its own by approximately thirty million people.
Interestingly enough, the region McCain wants us to be at war with is perfectly contiguous – even as he argues that this isn’t related to strategic geopolitics or consolidating control over valuable mineral resources, but rather about human rights. We should believe that when he calls for military assistance or support for the people of Mali.