Ross thinks I am presenting false choices on Iraq:

There are certainly people for whom the debate over troop levels in Iraq is ultimately about whether American foreign policy gets set on a more explicitly imperialist trajectory, and there’s no question that such voices will be more empowered under a McCain Administration than by a President Obama. The question is whether the likely practical results of a McCain Presidency – a Presidency that will be constrained by all kinds of factors, foreign and domestic – will so empower the Boot vision of America’s role in the world (which I do not share) as to make a vote for McCain a vote for Boot. The alternative, which seems more plausible to me, is that a vote for McCain under these circumstances is a vote for something [more] modest: Namely, a reduction in U.S. forces in Iraq that will proceed more gradually than the reduction Obama is promising, and that will leave the long-term question of the size and scope of America’s entanglement in the Middle East for future administrations to wrestle with.

I sure hope that's the case. But there are so many hardcore new American century neocons around McCain that I doubt it. One thing I have learned these past few years is that there is no longer any moderating instinct within neoconservatism. It has become an absolutist ideology, which is why its cooptation of the word "conservatism" is so repellent. Give them an inch, and they'll take a country.

Give them four more years, and we simply cannot know what new wars they will start or new powers they will accrue. If you keep in power people who believe a post-surge lull in Iraq is vindication for the whole project, that torture is a "no-brainer", and that the executive makes its own laws, you cannot assume a middle course.

A McCain-Hagel Republicanism is one thing; a McCain-Lieberman Republicanism is quite another. Until McCain explicitly states he wants all US troops out of Iraq as soon as he deems prudent - all of them - the neocon threat of wider and wider conflict remains. I gave them the benefit of the doubt once. Never again.

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