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The Toronto Sun

Obama-Clinton Spats A Gain for McCain

Eric Margolis

The fratricidal battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is tearing apart the Democratic Party and boosting Republican hopes of victory in November.

Obama leads by almost every measure, but Clinton appears ready to take her party down with her rather than withdraw gracefully. As a result, Republican candidate Senator John McCain is the frontrunner for president.

Republicans are praying Clinton will defeat Obama, and even may be secretly helping finance her campaign. Polls show McCain would defeat her. If Clinton wins nomination through backroom deals by super delegates, many angry black Americans will boycott the November vote, ensuring a Republican victory.

What would McCain's foreign policy look like? This week, he made a major policy address that gives a preview.

On the most important issue, Iraq, McCain still insists he backs the five-year-old war that so far has cost more than 4,000 American and untold Iraqi casualties, and created four million refugees as a result of U.S.-sanctioned ethnic cleansing of Sunnis by Shia gangs.

McCain insists U.S. troops must stay in Iraq until it becomes a "peaceful, stable, democratic state." Battered, strife-torn Iraq is as far as one can get from McCain's goal.


The Iraqi Humpty Dumpty is broken and is unlikely to be repaired. The U.S. occupation has caused Iraq to split into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish mini states.

The U.S.-installed Baghdad regime controls nothing. Real power is held by the Iranian-backed Shia Islamic Supreme Council and its Badr militia, which was fighting this week with the Shia Mahdi Army.

The U.S. created and armed Sunni militias who one day will fight their Shia foes. The Kurdish region is independent in all but name and under increasing Israeli influence. There is no real Iraq. It has ceased to exist.

Iran now dominates 60% of Iraq, and its power there continues to grow.

Meanwhile, the war is costing cash-strapped Washington at least $3 billion weekly at a time when it owes China $1.3 trillion in loans. McCain says he's not strong in economics.

He clearly has no understanding of how much this war is costing. Latest estimates put the bill at nearly $1 trillion by next year.

McCain is proposing a continuation of the Bush/Cheney mess in Iraq. The big question is, will the Bush White House stage a serious military incident with Syria, Lebanon or Iran close to the time of November elections to mobilize patriotic votes for the Republicans.

McCain did make a very welcome call to end Bush/Cheney's unilateralism and begin working with allies and international organizations. But then he snarled at "revanchist" Russia, warned of Moscow's aggressive designs, and called for its eviction from the G8 group of nations. His bellicosity is ominous. McCain sounds like he wants to restart the Cold War -- and probably does.


McCain's recent Mideast trip also offered more of Bush's policy, but perhaps an even harder line.

McCain strongly supported Israel's expansionist right wing parties, vowed Washington would never pressure Israel into a peace deal it did not favour, and denounced Saudi "autocrats." He called for their removal without explaining who or what should replace them.

The only honest vote held in the Middle East produced a landslide win in Palestine for the Islamist Hamas movement.

All the while Sen. Joe Lieberman, whom wags call "Israel's senator in Washington," was whispering lines into McCain's ear.

When McCain foolishly claimed Iran was in cahoots with al-Qaida, Lieberman had to sort him out.

Other neocons also have flocked to McCain's banner, meaning if he wins any real Arab-Israeli peace appears unlikely. Look for possible further U.S. military action against Israel's enemies.

McCain tried to sound moderate and statesmanlike in his speech. So did Bush when he first came into office, decrying "nation building" and foreign entanglements. But a genuine moderate statesman does not sing "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" in public and call for perpetual war in Iraq.

Eric Margolis writes a regular column for The Sun.

© 2008 The Toronto Sun

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