Why the Republicans Ignored Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq & Iran at This Year's Convention

Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesda
Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Amidst the glorious speeches at the Republican National Convention this election year, there is one subject that has glaringly been missing this time around: the wars that America is currently waging in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Of all of the high profile speeches, only one -- John McCain's -- even used the word "Afghanistan" -- a country that is the base of the longest-running war in American history. McCain mentioned it in reference to his disappointment that Obama is withdrawing from Afghanistan. Not one has mentioned Iraq -- the country that may never recover from the U.S.-allied war that began in 2003. Not one has mentioned Pakistan -- that place where, presumably, Republican's don't want to go speech-wise because it would play to Obama's greatest victory: the capture of Osama bin Laden. Not one mention of Libya, Sudan (South or otherwise), Uganda or Yemen, where the U.S. is, amongst other places, also at war. The only mentions of the pool of blood that is now Syria were by the old Bush guard of McCain and Condoleezza Rice. She mentioned it in passing -- something about butchery -- and he conveniently summed it up as "not a fair fight" rather than what it is: a violent and ruthless army in battle with a violent and ruthless opposition that is in part funded by U.S. taxpayers. And most curiously, of all the high profile speakers at the Republican National Convention this year only McCain and Rice casually, briefly mentioned Iran -- this year's focus of "inevitable war." Wonder what the military families think of the fact that Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate didn't think it important enough to even mention them. Sure, that would have been at the price of mentioning the wars that Bush started in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere that have cost these families everything they treasure, but isn't American patriotism -- the theme that has remained consistent in this Convention -- by default a discussion of pride in America's veterans and military families? Wonder what post-9/11 America thinks of Rick Santorum's emphasis on Obama taking away their freedoms (you know, like the terrorists try to do). "Under Obama, the dream of freedom and opportunity has become a nightmare of dependency," Santorum said, just after he made mention of his immigrant background and the one thing his family had that immigrants and Americans apparently no longer have thanks to Obama: freedom. And those of us who remember that ancient incident -- way back in 2003 -- when a Republican White House lied and spinned its way into the Iraq war, we wonder why a party that is known for its warmongering and its disdain for one particular religion, didn't take the opportunity to draw attention to the Middle Eastern, African and South Asian wars. Sure, the RNC this year included speakers from every major religion in America except Islam, but that's the kind of passive aggressive behavior we expect from Democrats: Republicans like to make a showcase of their prejudices, and their wars. It's the American way, Republican style. What memo was sent to every major speechwriter that included the lines: "do not mention Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Al Qaeda or Syria"? Even John McCain, the decorated war veteran of America's previous longest-lasting war, made only subtle references to either the wars or the military personnel who are on the front lines of these disasters. He is the only one who even acknowledged that the U.S. is partaking in any warlike situation when he mentioned that the defenders of America "when they have gone into battle, as they do today, have done so with the conviction that the country that sent them there is worth their sacrifice." He then again alluded to the military personnel without specifically calling them that and intertwined their greatest of sacrifices with the work of the Almighty (you know, like jihad): "May God bless all who have served, and all who serve today, as He has blessed us with their service." Like an old school Republican (i.e. circa just before the Convention happened) McCain maintained the mongering for war by bundling Iran and Syria together, along with Hezbollah, as the greatest threats known to man. He then added the cherry on top about how, at the end of the day, the biggest reason to take on these diabolical Iranosyriohezbollahis is to protect Israel, "a nation under existential threat." Maybe he didn't get the memo about how for an audience that is primarily pro-war, talking about all the wars would reflect badly on the Republicans who started them without a clear plan for "winning" or even ending them, and reflect well on the Democrat -- Obama -- who has ended them yet somehow managed to expand America's war presence in the region by replacing each war he withdraws from with a new one. Obama must be doing something really right if for the first time in at least a generation, the Republicans are focusing their presidential convention on something other than foreign policy and war. If that's not an admission of defeat, then nothing is.