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September 26, 2008

The Lessons of Iraq
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

McCain's lesson:  You can't have a failed strategy that will almost cause you to lose.

Maybe you should have thought about that before you went in.  Before we spent $650 billion.  Before 4,000 American lives were lost.  Before Iraq experienced a catastrophic civil war.  McCain was a supporter of the Iraq war from the start and he was supporter of that failed strategy.  The record is pretty clear on that.  McCain was a supporter of the war and a supporter of the strategy.

John McCain claims that he opposed the Bush-Rumsfeld strategy but he supported going in with few troops.  “I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past... I don't believe it's going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991.”  [CBS, Face the Nation, 9/15/02]

McCain, like Rumsfeld, thought air power would make up for fewer troops – like Rumsfeld, never thought about the aftermath.  “We're much improved. They have never restored their military capability that they had at that time. Our technology, particularly air-to-ground technology is vastly improved. I don't think you're going to have to see the scale of numbers of troops that we saw, nor the length of the buildup, obviously, that we had back in 1991.” [CNN, Larry King Live, 12/09/02]

McCain thought new high-tech weaponry would make up for small troop size – never thought about period after invasion. When asked if he thought the draft might be reinstated, Senator McCain answered: “I believe that the kind of technology and the kind of military that we have today doesn't require massive numbers of troops. You might have noticed the conflict in Afghanistan, we had a few soldiers on the ground and used very incredibly accurate air power.” [MSNBC, Hardball, 10/16/02]

McCain didn’t understand dangers of invading – dismissed concerns about an insurgency or house-to-house fighting which then came to pass.  In late 2002 McCain said that "We're not going get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad."  But when we confronted those problems he said that "It doesn't take a large number of people to cause difficulties in house to house fighting we've just seeing right now in southern Iraq."  Since then house-to-house fighting has become a day-to-day reality in Iraq. [CNN, Late Edition, 9/29/02.  MSNBC, Hardball, 3/24/03]

McCain didn’t understand implications of invading with few troops - like Rumsfeld, McCain dismissed the impact of looting.  McCain dismissed the impact of looting “it won’t be long. It, it'll be a fairly short period of time, but this, this happens in wars… we'll have a short period of chaos.”  Later many experts would look back and argue that the looting damaged Iraq’ infrastructure and set back the reconstruction effort and ability to form an effective government. [ABC News, 4/9/03]

McCain described administration’s efforts as “well-planned.” After Bush gave his famed speech in front of the United Nations, McCain said, “I think the president has embarked on a well-planned effort to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein.” McCain then “called for an immediate show of support for the president to help Bush make his case before the UN Security Council.” [Boston Globe, 9/13/02]

McCain did not believe Bush administration rushed to war. McCain said that “only an obdurate refusal to face unpleasant facts could allow one to believe we have rushed into war.” [Daily Mail, 3/13/03]


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