Ringside Seat: McCain Does Syria

On a spring day six years ago, John McCain and some other members of Congress took a stroll through a Baghdad market, showing Americans how stable and secure life in Iraq had become. Noting that he left his helmet (though not his flak jacket) back in the Humvee, McCain waxed rhapsodic to reporters about how safe he felt. His colleague, then-representative Mike Pence, said it reminded him of a "normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime." They didn't mention that they were accompanied by 100 troops, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships, just in case, one supposes, a rambunctious but good-hearted Iraqi street urchin tried to pick their pockets.

Well he's at it again, heading to a war zone for a photo op that can't possibly have anything to do with the senator's desire for self-aggrandizement. Apparently feeling that things are not moving precipitously enough in the direction of another Middle Eastern war for America to enter, over the weekend McCain gathered up a more modest security detail and crossed over the Turkish border into Syria to have a brief confab with some rebels. His goal at the moment, as it is in every foreign controversy, is to ramp up American military involvement.

Confronted with the possibility that if we start arming Syrian rebels we could quite possibly end up supplying weapons to a future fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship, McCain offers a wave of his hand. "I know who they are," he says of the rebels, despite the fact that everyone else seems to understand the rebellion as a complex collection of people with differing goals, motivations and visions of a future Syria. But John McCain is nothing if not sure of the righteousness of his cause, whether he knows what he's talking about or not, and that cause is always more and greater use of military force. It's a wonder this guy didn't get elected president.

So They Say

“But if anybody wondered whether the Shore could ever be all right again, you got your answer this weekend. From Sea Bright to Bay Head, from Belmar to Seaside Heights, folks were hanging out on balconies and beaches. Shows were sold out at the Stone Pony. Kids were eating ice cream and going on rides, going and eating some more ice cream. Guys were trying to win those big stuffed animals to impress a special girl.  So like I said, the Jersey Shore is back in business."

President Barack Obama

Daily Meme: Day of the War Dead

  • In the dust of Obama's war on terror speech last Thursday, Memorial Day had a slightly different tenor than those of the past decade.
  • We may still have troops at war, but we're in a period of transition; musings of this nameless war's legacy and questions of what frontiers lie next weigh far heavier than day-to-day activity in the current theatres of battle.
  • And, heartbreakingly, a large part of that legacy lies in the many lives remembered this Monday and the thousands of bodies buried and psyches wounded in this long war.
  • Nicholas Schmindle looks at the life of Chris Kyle, America's deadliest sniper,and the role that PTSD—and our country's failings in treating it properly—played in his death.
  • The New York Times visits the soldiers overworked at Dover Air Base, where an emotional assembly line readies the war dead for their final trips home, a process profiled in Chris Jones' piece on Sergeant Joe Montgomery.
  • Some soldiers back from the front are turning their experience into verse.
  • Others bring the war back to their families.
  • Also worth remembering are those at Guantanamo, promised an exit as part of the next chapter of American foreign policy, but currently being force-fed. We still have many loose ends to tie up in this war. 

What We're Writing

  • Chuck Collins imagines the life of four young people at coffee shop, consigned to different life trajectories thanks to their parents economic status, not their ambitions or intelligence.
  • A savvy social media strategist is Israel's new finance minister, a man whose shallow campaign matches his meager economic knowledge, writes Gershom Gorenberg. Yair Lapid now plans to implement austerity in a country where the economy is still growing, and poverty and inequality are among the worst in the world.

What We're Reading

  • Alec MacGillis details how the gun control movement might shoot down the NRA.
  • Andy Kroll profiles Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood superdonor every Democratic presidential candidate should be BFFs with.
  • President Obama played carnival games at Jersey Shore with Chris Christe today. This picture was the result.
  • The Supreme Court is getting along really well lately, when it comes to unanimous decisions.
  • Chris Smith sketches out the rest of the New York City mayoral race.

Poll of the Day

Germany is the most popular country in the world, according to a new BBC poll, garnering close to 60 percent approval from a sample pool of 22 countries. The results are surprising, writes Spiegel Online, given the animosity Germany's response to the eurozone's economic crisis has spurred in southern Europe.

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