It’s not clear whether or how long
the Republicans can maintain this pretense. Stretching this stage-managed
ABC-TV “interview” over four episodes will not hide the fact that
the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate is best kept away from
microphones and tough questions about government policy. Still,
one never knows – the way the major U.S.
mass media seems to go along so willing with the charade takes one’s
breath away. As one British correspondent put it “the format was
more akin to a celebrity interview than a forensic analysis of a
vice-presidential candidate 55 days before an election.” But, never
mind that. The Charles Gibson interview with Alaska Governor Sarah
Palin, on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11th, had a lot of
substance. And it was scary.
“Sarah Palin shows hawkish streak in first interview,”
ran the headline in the British newspaper The Guardian.
Palin didn’t just threaten Russia
with war in her first interview; she echoed her running mate’s call
for “victory in the war” in Iraq.
She linked the war in Iraq
with the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, something the Bush administration
no longer does. Palin backs military action in Pakistan even without the
support of that country’s government. And, she’s come close to endorsing
an Israeli bombing attack on Iran.
spoke strongly in favor of talking Georgia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) and indicated that the U.S.
would have to become involved should that county become embroiled
in a military conflict with Russia.
“There are numerous problems with this statement,” wrote Ilan Goldenberg
in The Guardian, “the most important element is that it sends
a very dangerous and extreme signal to the world - especially other
nuclear powers. This type of dangerous talk reinforces the militaristic
saber-rattling of the McCain campaign. From joking about bombing
Iran, to talking
about invading Iraq,
Iran and Syria weeks after 9/11 to the misguided “we are
all Georgians now,” the McCain campaign is sending all kinds of
horrifying signals to the world about the types of wars it would
fight. Leaders in other capitals are paying attention and words
The consequence of Governor Palin’s woeful lack of
knowledge and experience is that her pronouncements are not nuanced
as Senator McCain’s but they do represent the tenor of the ticket.
As a clearer picture emerges of what the foreign policies of a McCain-Palin
Administration would look like, it has prompted nervousness and
concern elsewhere on the planet. One of the reasons for Obama’s
popular support over much of the rest of world is that the substance
of the McCain-Palin campaign is scaring the bejesus of out of people.
Much has been made of Palin’s apparent lack of knowledge
about the “Bush Doctrine,” but that might not carry the weight with
the public some observers think it might. Most people don’t actually
know what the term means and pliant Big Media can hardly be said
to have spelled it out clearly when it mattered, before the invasion
After she arrived in St. Paul and before she was nominated, she met
behind closed doors with officials of the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful lobby group tied to the
Israeli rightwing and supporters of the occupation. Big Media didn’t
tell us much about that huddle although there is not a chance in
the world that it was not highly significant. In her interview,
Palin said she would not second guess how Israel
should respond to a nuclear Iran
and that the U.S.
doesn’t “have to stand for that.”
any more indication were needed that the neo-conservative hawks
have embraced the Republican Presidential ticket, one only had to
watch the neocons go into rapture after Palin’s nomination. They
have not been happy campers in the post-Cold War world. The “war
on terror” is a bit nebulous and its execution can cause the kind
of conflict the chieftains of the oil industry don’t want to have
with the autocratic governments of the Middle East. Better a real international enemy: Russia.
“And we've got to keep an eye on Russia,”
Palin told Gibson. “For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms
of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable,”
she told Gibson. Of course, Russia
after the latter attacked South Ossetia.
Palin was evidently unmoved by the ridicule already
visited on the notion that she somehow knows how to deal with Russia because she lives so
close to it. She has insights into U.S.
relations with Moscow, she said, because “they're
our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska
... from an island in Alaska.”
About Palin’s discussion of going to war, the British
commentator Goldenberg noted that “there is a nominee for the vice
presidency of the United States who may one day have her hand on
the button and she is casually talking about potential catastrophic
“Saber rattling matters,” wrote Goldenberg. “Words
matter. We've learned that from the past eight years. When George
Bush said ‘With us or against us,’ it mattered. When he referred
to a ‘crusade’ it mattered. When McCain jokes about war with Iran, calls our allies ‘vacuous and posturing’,
says that Iraq
is building a weapons assembly line for al Qaeda, it matters.
“And when Sarah Palin, a first term governor with
no national security experience or expertise, talks about hypothetical
nuclear war it really matters. It reflects badly on her and her
readiness. It reflects even worse on John McCain who thought that
she was qualified to be Commander in Chief.”
Qualification aside, what has many observers outside
greatly disturbed is the content of the recent pronouncements coming
from both spots on the Republican ticket. Speaking in Hamburg
last week, Michael Schaefer, Germany’s
ambassador to China,
drew attention to the increasingly bellicose rhetoric emerging in
the US presidential campaign.
According to the Financial Times, he cited the McCain’s candidate's
proposal to line up the US with other governments in a quasi-institutional
framework to oppose countries like China and Russia. “That would be ... a very dangerous course
within the transatlantic alliance,” he told a Europe-China conference.
Referring to “the muck being hurled by the McCain
campaign is preventing a debate on real issues - on whether the
country really wants, for example, to continue the economic policies
of the last eight years,” wrote New York Times columnist
Paul Krugman last week. He went on to suggest “the Obama campaign
is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just
be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah
Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much
worse.” It sounds like a lot of people abroad are concluding this
might also be true in the area of foreign affairs.
“Americans have been warned,” wrote Jacob Heilbrunn
on the Huffington Post the day the Palin interview aired.
John McCain and Sarah Palin are elected, they will make the Bush
administration look like a dress rehearsal for what's coming. McCain
and Palin aren't as bad as Bush. They're worse. By treating Russia like an enemy, they will turn it into one.
An American attack on Iran, which McCain is thirsting for, could lead
to a wider conflict with Russia that has incalculable
The U.S. has had eight years of
a government that has held views similar to those expressed by Palin,
wrote Goldenberg. “The result has been to put ideological and emotional
distance between it and large parts of Europe, Asia and Latin
America. Apart from isolationist Republicans, this is bad news both
for America and the rest of us. America needs a friendlier
world to do economic and political business. The world needs an
America more in tune with
its natural friends and allies.”
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of
the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
and formerly worked for a healthcare union. Click here
to contact Mr. Bloice.