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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 8th, 2007 - 01:50:31

Pick your war, pick your president
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 8, 2007, 01:48

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There seems to be a new fashion among US presidential hopefuls. No, I'm not talking about Gucci or Gap or the Hamptons versus Cape Cod. Whether they're Republican, Democrat or independent current contenders for the top job appear to hold to the same neo-motto: If you wanna get ahead, get a war.

Should you find the above statement rather far-fetched I wouldn't blame you. After all, if you or I were to get up on podiums to tell passersby that we fancied bombing some unfortunate far flung country back to its Neolithic origins we would either be escorted to the nearest mental institution or, depending on our ethnicity, to a secure facility pending investigation.

We would be deemed to be a serious public menace unless we happened to be drumming up support for a stint in the White House.

Warped logic you might think since few of us can get our hands on carriers, tanks, Apache helicopters or fighter jets, let alone missiles even if we felt so disposed, while the president of the United States can simply press a button and blow the planet to smithereens.

Be that as it may, a war is now an essential component of a US presidential portfolio unless it's an old hat, past its sell-by date war, such as that still going on in Iraq.

Individuals with an eye to being commander-in-chief are naturally averse to being associated with that failed endeavour, even those who enthusiastically cheered it on from the outset.

Those poor souls were, of course, duped by inaccurate intelligence and are disappointed to the core that the invasion and subsequent occupation was so inexpertly handled, so expensive and so terribly frivolous with the lives of America's finest.

Just to put a fine point upon it, not any old war will do. To my knowledge there's no fresh-faced hopeful -- or even a wrinkled one for that matter -- eager to have a go at Sweden or Seoul. So Swedes and Koreans you can sleep well tonight.

Unfortunately, the people of this region aren't quite as lucky. The new designer wars are planned around this part of the world as a continuation of Bush's "war on terror," a phrase, which, by the way, is as pass� as its originator.

It also wouldn't do for every presidential aspirant to hang their hat on the same war. They've got an election to win and plenty of debates ahead that will allow them to stand up proudly and say, "My war is better than yours."

Take the Democrats' golden boy, Barack Obama, for instance. He railed against invading Iraq when it was just a gleam in neocon eyes. And unlike the present incumbent he's up for shaking hands and making nice with the leaders of Syria, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea without preconditions.

So far so good, but then he goes and spoils it all by threatening to invade the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan with the aim of hunting down Osama bin Laden should Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, not be up to the task.

Good chance

Never mind there's a good chance bin Laden, known to be a sick man, might already be dead. Never mind that the Pakistani leader is already hanging on to office by his fingernails amid opposition parties, the judiciary and more and more of his people clamouring for his exit.

Never mind that under the Pakistani constitution government troops are forbidden from entering those sensitive regions where a gun is a must have accessory. Never mind that if the government topples the country's nuclear weapons may fall into the hands of people who hate the US.

Bush once wrote bin Laden off as irrelevant in the great scheme of things, as indeed he is. So why is Obama re-elevating the gangly bearded-one by promoting a war just to fish him out when the franchise agreements have already been signed, sealed and delivered?

His Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been forced to share a war with Republican contenders Senator John McCain and the former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, rather like three fashionable ladies embarrassingly turning up at a do wearing the same frock.

Their war de jour is against Iran. One or more of them might have opted for North Korea if Kim Jong-Il hadn't bolted the door on his reactor.

"A nuclear Iran is a danger to Israel, to its neighbours and beyond," said the good lady senator last year. "The regime's pro-terrorist, anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric only underscores the urgency of the threat it poses . . . and we cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons."

Giuliani goes a step further recently telling CNN that he would approve using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. "This war's not a bumper sticker," he said. "This is a real war." And what was Iraq Macho man, a video game?

Republican candidate Tom Tancredo, who styles himself as a lifelong pro-life conservative believes bombing holy Islamic sites would deter extremists from attacking the US and warns that if there is another attack on the homeland, he would advocate "an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina."

If he's a pro-lifer, I'd hate to meet an anti down a dark ally.

I never thought I would ever say the following but who knows! In another 18 months or so we may all be saying, "Come back Mr. Bush, all is forgiven."

It's a sad old world when a bird called Bush may be better than several twittering their dangerous fantasies out there on the stump.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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