29 September 2008

Political pull out?

Though this month’s political news has been dominated by the money markets, there has been a couple of interesting developments in the ‘War on Terror’. A couple of weeks ago John McCain’s good friend, General David Petraeus, the outgoing Commander of US troops in Iraq, said he would never declare victory in Iraq as “this is not the sort of struggle...it’s not war with a simple slogan”.

This piece of news won’t be music to the ears of Senator McCain who frequently puts the Iraqi conflict in the context of a zero-sum win/lose scenario.

The other bit of significant news - the announcement that President Bush will be withdrawing 8,000 troops from Iraq with 4,500 relocating to the Afghan theatre - may also pain the McCain-Palin ticket.

Barack Obama jumped straight on the withdrawal announcement as proof that the war in Central Asia should take priority over the war in the Middle East as he has constantly preached and John McCain has resisted.

However, ‘Dubya’s’ announcement in long term may actually benefit the Arizonan politician over Senator Obama in the long run.

We have certainly seen over the last few months that any past animosity between Bush and McCain, after the bruising 2000 Republican Presidential Primary contest, has all but dried up.

We have also seen, as proved by polling in the aftermath of the Republican convention, that the American people are not totally against voting for another four years of Republican Presidential rule despite the unpopularity of the Iraq adventure.

Could it be then Mr Bush is planning a number of politically shrewd and positive Iraq announcements before the November General Election in order to boost the Republican brand, and hence Mr McCain, in the run-up to the vote?

This is not a new tactic. In 1968, as the unpopular Vietnam War was raging and with Vice-President Humphrey trailing Republican Richard Nixon in the polls, President Lyndon Baines Johnson announced a bombing halt and the possibility of peace-talks with Ho Chi Minh and his allies.

LBJ’s tactical peace effort eventually came to nothing and Nixon defeated Humphrey. Saying that though just because the Democratic-led initiative failed in 1968, it doesn’t mean a similar Republican scheme would be unsuccessful in 2008...

By M J Watkinson

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