Following McCain’s photo-op in Iraq this weekend, which required more than 100 soldiers in armored humvees, attack helicopters and the full attention of the top commander in Iraq, I was wondering what would happen if all the Presidential candidates wanted a tour. Military rules clearly state that the military is not to be used for partisan events. In a directive entitle “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty” (PDF File), section 22.214.171.124 states that members on active duty shall not:
126.96.36.199. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).
Sunday was a campaign event for McCain, and that campaign even will continue on April 11th:
At the same time, Mr. McCain will, upon his return from Iraq, deliver what his aides said would be a major speech at the Virginia Military Institute that will argue that the troop escalation was showing signs of success and urging Americans to back the war effort. The speech will take place on April 11, the day on which Mr. McCain had been scheduled to formally enter the race.
So McCain is going to continue using his possibly illegal event to announce his formal run for the White House. What if every other candidate demanded the same treatment as McCain? There are more than 20 people running for the White House. If they all did the same thing then we would need another surge just for campaign events like McCain’s. This is the exact reason why the military don’t allow such activities.
There is another adverse affect of using Iraq for a campaign soap box. We are now throwing the Iraqi people into our political process, something I am sure they don’t want to do. They have enough worries, like employment, having electricity and running water, having food and just staying alive, not to be bothered with our vial political system. Do we really think having a bunch of politicians delivering false messages of hope from their war torn country is going to win hearts and minds?
The biggest problem lies in what to do about it. If the Democrats hold an ethics hearing into it, then they will be accused of partisan hackery. However the law is not partisan, and the law is clear on this issue. If John Edwards was over in Iraq requiring this manpower to show that Iraq is going wrong, then the Republicans would be calling for legal investigations. The same needs to apply to McCain. It doesn’t matter if he is a Senator or not. He decided to enter the race and it is up to him to walk the delicate line between right and wrong. Hopefully this issue will gain traction and garner the much needed attention it demands.