Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain, War, and Paint

ok, so this is supposed to be my art blog and I've not written tiddly. On top of that, like other artists, I want to write about what's happening here in the US, but wonder: if I don't agree with my art fans/followers/buyers, will they still love my work? Can I write an opinion without alienating those who disagree? It makes me feel bad to even ask such a question, to hesitate, because I'm reminded of "state artists" in oppressive regimes who only make "nice art" and keep their mouths shut, in order to preserve their livelihoods and profession. I hope I still live in a democracy where civil debate holds an edge over punitive disagreement.

So, why write about anything but art? Besides being an artist, I'm a few other things. It's the few other things that go into my work and make it what it is. I've been a central asian history buff since childhood, odd but true. Actually, fascinating and true. So, unlike many, I haven't been "learning geography via invasion" and I've had a ton to think about (and say) since we went into the area.

Only one thing stands out to me from last night's debate, and I cannot shake it. McCain focused on our "success" in Iraq and implied we'll do just as well in Afghanistan. I was blindsided to hear that from him. He sounds like Viet Nam era politicians who supported the war. He sounds like the voice of regimes we disrespect--those that have voiced victory as their wars, and countries, swirled down the drain. Earlier, I respected him and considered him a serious contender for my vote. When he picked Palin, he lost my vote. However, with these comments, he's lost my confidence and a good portion of my respect for his honesty and integrity, as well. I'm shocked at what he said, to be honest.

I'll bullet my points:

--At this point, "success" in Iraq or Afghanistan is propaganda. There are no facts to support it.

--His proposal to get Waziristan to behave is jaw-droppingly ignorant. If you know the history, you know why. If you don't, you must before you take his comments into consideration. (I'm not sure Obama did any better on this point. However, there's certainly more point to, and more chance of, arm wrestling Pakistan into more cooperation than there is of taming Waziristan-- and there is a point to putting Pakistan "on notice" before he potentially steps into office. Good strategy to plant that concern in the minds of Pakistan's leadership in advance? However, I question whether we even have the resources to follow through on engaging Pakistan, at this point.)

--We are overextended both financially & logistically (manpower & equipment)

--Financial and military overextension in Afghanistan, and economic disarray, preceded the disintegration of Russia's standing as a world power. They didn't call it Perestroika (restructuring) for nothing.

--Because of our strategic weakness, Russia is no longer in check, is moving aggressively, and is not likely to respond to any of our threats. Remember: they invaded the Baltics when we started the first Gulf War. Sabre rattling at Russia, on our part, is a joke: we would ruin ourselves if we committed resources in any third arena, at this point, and they know it.

--Historically, this is the point ("we're winning because we BELIEVE we're winning and anyone who says otherwise is an antipatriot") where adolescents are tapped for war. We're already tapping emotional adolescents (criminals, mentally unfit) ; where do we go from here? More seriously impaired recruits? Heavier recruitment among female students? Older soldiers? Move the age limit down to 17 or 16? Heavier use of the National Guard? (Is anyone thinking about the thinness of our National Guard?)

--"We are winning" is the same line that got us in past the point of redemption in Viet Nam and it is grievous to hear McCain, in particular, chanting this slogan. The cure for the shame of Viet Nam is not another Viet Nam.

What do I want, instead?

I want to hear someone provide a balanced truthful assessment and propose a thoughtful believable course of remedial action.