Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do we have a problem here?

I may seem to be going on about a trivial matter of connotation, a drift in the nuances of our political vocabulary. But if we have conventional wisdom then I suppose we have conventional narishkeit too. If the nit I pick is nothing to you, you are part of the problem...

Nedra Pickler is one of AP's name brand writers. In reporting the little that has been learned about Obama's closely held deliberations over a VP choice, she says of the possibility of tapping a former military commander:
A running mate from the military ranks could help address concerns that Obama lacks foreign policy experience, having served just three years in the Senate. It could also provide a counterpoint to the military bonafides of the Republican ticket, which will be led by Vietnam war hero John McCain.

Can we assume the American voter who reads the news is just a bit deeper than that? Since when is military experience interchangeable with foreign policy experience? I am aware the Bush administration and neconservatives in general can't tell the difference, but that is why we are in our present geopolitical quagmire.

I took ROTC in high school. There is no form of military training that presumes less of the trainee than what I took in and even there, they started us out with von Clausewitz: War is the continuation by armed force of those objectives you have failed to achieve through diplomacy. I have paraphrased for clarity but that is the meaning the man intended. That is more or less still militarism 101 for officers trained in the US.

Last I checked, we still had a state department. It has become something of a war making machine in its own little way what with the retention of Blackwater's services and all but still, the basic idea is [1] make friends, [2] with those friends on your side make deals with those who won't be friends [3] when all else fails and that means when they start marching on your borders or those of your friends,THEN start bombing. So, NO, Nedra, foreign policy is only experienced by military leaders in its failure modes. Bush may not have been happy [and I know Powell wasn't] having a former military leader who just happened to have some good diplomatic chops driving the State Department's diplomacy machine but hey, that's republicans for you.

Seriously folks, Pickler is just feeding you back the sickness of our empire: might makes policy.

IF Obama does pick anyone from the military, such as Wes Clark, I still think he is playing it too safe, bending against what should be his better judgment to shore up what he correctly understands is a political weakness when viewed by the weak minds that like McCain. He is up 48 to 42% in the polls. If he is pulling the moral punches he could be landing on the chin of this administration's and McCain's war lust just because it will get him a few percent more votes than he really needs, I think it will haunt his presidency.

Another point of "conventional wisdom" that Pickler passes on without question is the equation of war hero and "military bonafides" to competent war commander. Captain Windsock has suffered greatly for his country and returned to the navy not only a hero but the son and grandson of admirals...yet he was passed over for higher command by the navy because he was not up to the job. He left the navy at rank of Captain to go into politics. His heroism does not make him any more effective as a leader than that of the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to protect others. It is admirable but it is not leadership that sustains us by wise directions. Wise leadership is what we desperately need.

UPDATED June 16...I added the link to a HuffPo story that backs up my summary of the way McCain's navy career fizzled.
UPDATED June 26...HuffPo got someone who does have military command bonafides to say a word or two about McCain's commander in chief potential: Wes Clark thinks McCain's a punk.

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