The presumptive Republican nominee for president, John McCain, has positions on several issues that would make him a far better president than the current occupant of the White House.
But on the one big issue that continues to tear at this nation's fabric and turned us into a worldwide pariah, he's just as bad, if not worse, than George W. Bush.
McCain peddles the same hokum that Bush has espoused since he acquiesced to the demands of the cabal of neocons in his administration. It's no wonder that the president endorsed him before last Tuesday's Wisconsin primary.
Remarkably, it will be five years -- five long years -- next month since Bush ordered the attack on Iraq under the pretense that Saddam Hussein not only harbored terrorists, but posed a threat to the United States because he had weapons of mass destruction.
Both claims, of course, were lies. The result has been thousands of U.S. deaths, tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, many of them innocent civilians, and hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that are so needed in many other places these days -- like ensuring that bridges on our interstate highways don't fall down.
But John McCain not only buys into more of the same, but feels we ought to increase our military numbers in Iraq, plus says that we need to keep our troops there even if it takes 100 years.
And his reason? Because we can't "lose" the war against al-Qaida. If we leave, like the Democrats want to do, he insists that the message to the rest of the world would be devastating and America's security would be gravely jeopardized.
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The war in Iraq, unfortunately, hasn't been against al-Qaida, the sleazy terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Instead of putting a full court press on Osama bin Laden's bandits as they fled to Pakistan, we decided instead to trump up a war on Iraq.
By attacking and then occupying Iraq and deposing Saddam, we unleashed centuries-old sectarian hatred that quickly devolved into civil war and continues to have our troops caught in the middle. Yes, there are al-Qaida cells there now because they grabbed the opportunity to demonize the United States and help make things as miserable for us as they could.
As long as we stay in Iraq, they will continue fomenting death and violence, using the U.S. occupation as a foil and getting support and sympathy from Iraqis who want us to leave.
There's every reason to believe that if we leave, the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds will themselves turn against al-Qaida, an organization that has never had much favor in that country. Plus, it's reasonable to believe that neighboring countries like Syria and Turkey -- and even Iran -- will help the Iraqis. None of them wants to see al-Qaida gain traction in the region. None of that will happen, though, if we continue to stay.
If John McCain is concerned about America's security being put in jeopardy if we leave, he'd be better off worrying about what the escalating costs of the Iraq war are doing to the U.S. economy.
This nation cannot continue going deeper and deeper in debt, passing on our obligations to our kids and grandkids, and expect the country to remain strong and ready.
That's where the real danger to our security lies.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times, where his column regularly appears.
© 2008 Capital Newspapers