What Does McCain Mean By “Success”

By David Rosman  Columbia, MO July 4, 2010 – Senator John McCain, the new neo-conservative darling of the press, professed on this morning’s “The Week” that he is a Reagan Republican and believes in freedom. The Senator made it sound as if only Reagan Republicans believe in or can define freedom.

His comments came during a discussion concerning Afghanistan and the date certain pullout of American troops, to which the Senator from Arizona opposes.

However, there was something, at least to me, that appeared as an anomaly to the discussion. It is an undefined term that the Senator used more than any other this Fourth of July morning. He talked about the need for “success” in Afghanistan.

He said that we cannot declare a withdrawal date until we have “succeeded” in that war-torn country. However, what is “success?” How will we know when success is achieved, or is this another question the neo-conservatives are leaving to their collective interpretations with the caveat of “Agree or Die.”

In Afghanistan, is success a strong central government elected by the people? Somehow, that seems a bit ironic. Is not the focus of those who claim Tea Party, conservative or neo-Republican affiliations to bring the government back to the state level? Are not these the same people who, wanting to limit the power of our own federal government, now seek to establish a strong federal government abroad?

In Afghanistan, that would be the regional warlords who rule the country under the power of the gun, favors, threats and… if I had not just watched The Godfather, I would assume that Afghanistan was Mafia ruled.

Is success the complete and total elimination of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, of the terrorist plan to take over the world? Even the GOP’s chairman Michael Steele does not believe that type of “success” is possible. We are not fighting a country with government and armies. We are fighting an ideology based on what all-religious based wars are based – God is on our side and if you do not accept that, we will kill you.

If you do not think this is a religious based war, think again my friend. J. Peter Scoblic writes in his 2008 U.S. vs. Them that the conservative movement from World War II forward has seen the “enemy” more in terms of a religious conquest of good versus evil, a battlefield exchange of bombs, bullets and dead in the name of God. The Islamic extremists believe that their battle is one of the preservation of their faith and dying for that cause brings martyrism. Americans have countered this raising their non-Islamic voices in praise to their God to destroy the heathens. Moreover, this is an American Christian God.

CNN reported in June of 2008 the story of Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, who having turned away from this Baptist upbringing, declared himself an atheist. “Hall claims his rights to religious freedom under the First Amendment were violated and suggests that the United States military has become a Christian organization,” reported CNN. The Officer’s Christian Fellowship’s purpose statement is, “[t]o glorify God by uniting Christian officers for biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.” To raise a Christian Godly army?

And it is not only the U.S. Army. The Air Force and Naval academies have been accused of discrimination against those who were not Christian. The Washington Post reported in 2005 that “[a] military study of the religious climate at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs found several examples of religious intolerance, insensitivity and inappropriate proselytizing on the part of Air Force officers and cadets.” In 2008, USLaw.com reported on religious discrimination at Annapolis. Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents in the U.S. armed forces and have seemed to increase in the last five years.

Our war against terrorism has become more than a Christian and, by extension of belief, Jewish battle against another “evil empire,” but one that is determined to rid the world of all except those who believe as they do.

It has become an apocalyptic movement to assure the second coming of the Messiah. Without the existence of Israel, without the defeat of the Islamic enemy, without the great battle between good and evil, the prophecies of Revelations cannot come true.

In the 1960s, neo-conservatives saw the Nuclear Test Ban treaties as a barrier to the destruction of the atheist commies in the Soviet Union, China and Cuba. They believed, according to Scoblic, that a nuclear war is “winnable,” and wanted to invade Russia and Eastern Europe to free the poor souls under Communist tyranny.

In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world was a pushbutton away from a mutually assured destruction, neo-conservative Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona called the negotiations for the removal of the missiles in Cuba a “national travesty.” As the world again was able to breathe at the end October, Goldwater wanted war.

This attitude has only expanded after 9/11 and more so since 2008. The growth of the American traditionalist-evangelical movement is astonishing. You cannot throw a stick without hitting someone or something wanting to know if you are a Christian and if not they can show you the way. We have suffered through this before and have survived. But back to the original question.

Is “success” the elimination of another world religion? Is success the establishment of an American style central government that American’s do not trust? Is success eliminating an enemy that has no country, no government and no formal army? Does the Second Coming, or First if that is your belief, measure success?

Mr. McCain, if you can define success for me, I will take the time to learn how that version of “success” can or cannot be achieved. I will support what I believe is the correct avenue for “success.” And success is seeing that another world war, one that is not winnable by any side, is not achieved, because, as stated by New York state governor Mario Cuomo, “the simple truth [is] that peace is better than war because life is better than death.”

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.

About David Rosman

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com, InkandVoice.com and NYJournalofBooks.com.
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2 Responses to What Does McCain Mean By “Success”

  1. No sane person wants to engage in war, just as no sane person wants to kill someone even though that someone is aiming a gun at them. But reality tells us that self defense is very sane and as long as someone attacks another we’ll have war.

    You say that “Our war against terrorism has become one that is determined to rid the world of all except those who believe as they (we) do.” Perhaps in some American minds it is a holy war, but you have no evidence other than your anecdotes that Christianity is driving the U.S. to wipe out an entire faith.

    The U.S. is just defending itself in a very dangerous world as it did after being attacked in WW II. The last time I looked we helped rebuild Japan and Germany after we defeated them and we didn’t turn them into bastians of Christianity as part of the deal. I think you are confusing the U.S.’s motives with the Jihadists’.

  2. magihall says:

    As a Brit, it’s something of a relief when one finds American commentators who are not blinded by the “God is on our side” attitude of the Evangelical right. If I were not an atheist I would be praying for more of them!

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