In popular thinking today, especially from what is shown in the media, it is believed that John McCain is the "hawk" and Barack Obama is the "dove" of the narrow U.S. political spectrum. This is disturbing, to say the least, because as their own actions and words point out, when truly taking a look at them, the true question is who is the bigger hawk?
So, let’s take a look at McCain. We all know that McCain is one of the cheerleaders for the war in Iraq, but most don’t know that, as investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss, who had close relations with John McCain, points out that "[McCain] signed on early to the issue of going into Iraq and forcing a regime change there, long before anybody really had any kind of concerns about al-Qaeda, long before Iraq’s [supposed] connection to terrorism seemed important." This is the case for many people in the Bush Administration as well, but goes to show how McCain thinks nothing of invading a country like Iraq. McCain was even instrumental for escalating the war, in which Dreyfuss points out that "McCain was number one in a crucial moment, when the President, President Bush, had to decide whether to accept the Baker-Hamilton report, which called for phasing out U.S. combat forces over a period of sixteen months or alternatively escalating the war. And at that time, McCain was the number one voice in calling for an escalation … He had said we need more troops … at least 50,000 troops … it was [the] team – Kagan, McCain, Lieberman, and Cheney – who convinced the President to go with the escalation a year ago in January." McCain is also in love with the war, calling for "a long-term presence by the United States in Iraq, using Iraq as an aircraft carrier to support American power throughout the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and Central Asia. And his advisers told me so," says Dreyfuss. Some people see McCain as a strong veteran and a person who will know what to do in a war because of his time served and lessons learned during the Vietnam War. According to Dreyfuss, after Vietnam McCain "became convinced that American military power, if it’s constrained by politics, was unable to win that war. What [McCain] learned in Vietnam is that we need to take the gloves off, that the politicians need to get out of the way and let the military do its job." One of the ways he plans on doing that is through an institution he calls the "League of Democracies," "which is basically a way of short-circuiting the UN," says Dreyfuss. He also wants "to create a new much more agressive covert operations team" as if the CIA isn’t enough, and "to it on the old Office of Strategic Services … but include into it psychological warfare specialists, covert operations people, people who specialize in advertising and propaganda … [as well as] a wide range of these kind of covert operators," reports Dreyfuss. He also doesn’t mind kicking Russia out of the G8 and in its place, Dreyfuss says, "include not only Georgia in NATO, but some of Georgia’s rebellious provinces, which is a direct affront to Russia." It is also important to find out who he is surrounded by, which includes Randy Scheunemann, who Dreyfuss explains is "now running [McCain's] foreign policy task force" and who "wrote the Iraq Liberation Act that the neoconservatives … pushed through Congress," and who "founded the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002 with White House support. He was also a founder of the Project for a New American Century, which was the sort of ad hoc think tank that the neocons put together." In the words of Robert Dreyfuss, "I think [McCain is] a really scary guy." And in McCain’s words as reported in the Washington Post, "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."
McCain comes out with a strong showing for the biggest hawk contest, so can Obama match that? Let’s begin with the war in Iraq. Right before his famous speech at the Democratic National Convention, Senator Barack Obama stated that he would have authorized the war in Iraq like others did if given the same information as they received (as ABC reports). I guess he wouldn’t have bothered to research the issue further himself, yet just go on what the Bush Administration hands out to folks. That’s just great on an issue such as war. Even though he disagrees with the war now, as reported by the New York Times, he does not want to pull out of Iraq (since a full withdrawal of troops is just out of the question even though the people there want the U.S. out and the military presence has shown to increase the violence), so he doesn’t see an end to the war during his first term of office. That’s at least four years more of this illegal, horrific atrocity. Yet, most of his focus is pushing for a different war, the war in Afghanistan.
A journalist by the name of Paul Street pointed out that Obama had said that "the president ‘responded properly when it came to Afghanistan,’ Obama told ABC." Unfortunately, as Street also pointed out, "Rahul Mahajan observed that the United States’ attack on Afghanistan met none of the standard international moral and legal criteria for justifiable self-defense and occurred without reasonable consultation with the United Nations Security Council." Obama would focus more on this war, which is called the "just" war by many leading democrats and mainstream leftists in American society today, and is a war that has already killed more civilians than American soldiers lost in Iraq, with cases of whole villages getting obliterated. So, instead of wars in Iraq and Iran like McCain wants, Obama prefers the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In issues with Latin America, he comes out strong again. As Greg Grandin reports, Obama "essentially endorsed the Bush Administration’s drive to transform Colombia’s relations with its Andean neighbors into the [type of relationship] Israel has with most of the Middle East." Furthermore, Obama "swore that he would ‘support Colombia’s right to strike terrorists who seek safe-havens across its borders.’" If that sounds familiar that’s because it’s the same phrase uttered by the oh-so-great President Bush. Grandin continues to say "equally troublesome has been Obama’s endorsement of the controversial Merida Initiative, which human rights groups like Amnesty International have condemned as an application of the ‘Colombian Solution’ … Where death-squads now have infiltrated every level of government, and where union and other political activists are executed on a regular basis – held up as a for other parts of Latin America." Not only, Grandin explains, does Obama support the initiative, "but wants to expand it beyond Mexico and Central America. ‘We must press further south as well,’ [Obama] said in Miami." The wonderfully progressive Obama also stated in his Miami speech that he would continue to support the embargo on Cuba, which does not follow international law, since, for example, it stops medicine from reaching the population, which largely effects children. He even "accused the Bush Administration of ‘losing Latin America’ and allowing China, Europe, and ‘demoagogues like Hugo Chavez’ to step ‘into the vacuum.’" Obama just disregards any notion of Latin American countries taking control for themselves, but seems to follow the Monroe Doctrine of United States conrol in the Western Hemisphere, which even the Council on Foreign Relations has stated is out-dated and done with.
A journalist named John Pilger observed that Obama "promised to support an ‘undivided Jerusalem’ as Israel’s capital. Not a single government on earth supports the Israeli annexation of all of Jerusalem, including the Bush regime, which recognises the UN resolution designating Jerusalem an international city." Way to go Obama. Paul Street, in his article "Cynicism of Hope" shows a quote by Obama that sums up his foreign policy stance, stating that "the America moment is not over, but it must be seized anew … a strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace … we must become better prepared to put boots on the ground in order to take on foes on a global scale … I will not hesitate to use force unilaterally, if necessary, to protect the American people of our vital interests … we must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense." Sounds wonderful right? Even domestically, Obama shines as a hawk. Paul Street observes a blogger named Mat Stoller noting that Obama "agrees with Reagan’s basic frame that the 1960s and 1970s were full of ‘excesses’ and that government had grown large and unaccountable. Those excesses, of course, were feminism, the consumer rights movement, and the anti-war movement." Obama also agrees with Reagans domestic plans, Street cites, stating that "he put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating … we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing." This couldn’t be the same Ronald Reagan who decreased public spending to allow corporations to take over matters such as school curriculums, or the same person who implemented the trickle down effect of "Reagonomics," or who got ride of public programs implemented by Nixon, and who may be second to that of Nixon as the most racist of contemporary presidents. Yeah, it’s that one. And Obama agrees with Reagan. Great. Street also points out that in Obama’s book, Obama says that "there are seeds of anarchy in the idea of individual freedom, an intoxicating danger in the idea of equality. For if everybody is truly free, without the constraints of birth or rank and inherented social order … how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres?’" Very impressive. Sounds like a real keeper right there. Although, he is for change. As Street points out, in a speech Obama made in front of NASDAQ, it seems to be change only as far as the corporate elites want to go, stating " ‘I believe all of you are as open and willing to listen as anyone else in America … I believe you care about this country and the future we are leaving to the next generation. I believe your work to be a part of building a stronger, more vibrant, and more just America. I think … the problem is that no one has asked you to play a part in the project of American renewal.’" Paul Street’s remarks to these statements are perfect, as he says "these were strange beliefs to (claim to) hold in light of the actual historical pattern of business behavior that naturally results from the purpose and structure of the system of private profit that Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] denounced as contrary to human needs. An endless army of nonprofit charities and social service-providers, citizens, environmental and community activists, trade union negotiators, and policymakers has spent decade after decade asking and (often enough) begging the ‘American’ corporate and financial over-class to contribute to the domestic and social good." Is that change you can believe in?
These two candidates have both put on a great Hawk Vs. Hawk battle. Who do you think is the bigger hawk? Have fun in this year’s election!
Dreyfuss, Robert. 2008. "A Century in Iraq, Replacing UN with ‘League of Democracies,’ Rogue State Rollback? A Look at John McCain’s Foreign Policy Vision." http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/26.
Grandin, Greg. 2008. "Losing Latin America." http://www.zcomm.org/znet/viewArticlePrint/17881.
Pilger, John. 2008. "In Great Tradition, Obama Is A Hawk." http://www.zcomm.org/zspace/viewCommentaryPrint/3524.
Shear, Michael D. "McCain on World Stage on Mideast, Europe Trip." Washington Post. March 15, 2008.
Street, Paul. 2008. "Obama’s Good and "Proper" War." http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/16760.
Street, Paul. 2008. "The Cynicism of Hope." http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/16349.