Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Iraq: John McCain needs a History Lesson

From the AP:

    McCain, a Vietnam war veteran who spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war, said in an interview with The Associated Press that it's not the U.S. presence in Iraq that upsets voters but rather the number of casualties and the possibility those numbers could rise.

    * * *

    "By the way, a lot of us are also very concerned about the possibility of a, quote, 'Tet Offensive.' You know, some large-scale tact that could then switch American public opinion the way that the Tet Offensive did," the Arizona senator said.

Switch public opinion? Has Mr. Straight Talk gone to a strict all-Fox-News diet, a la Dick Cheney? Otherwise he would surely know that:
    Last month, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 62 percent said the United States made a mistake in going to war in Iraq.
Whereas, both before and after the Tet Offensive the majority of Americans supported the war. Tet was the turning point in reversing public opinion, but the slide to a majority opposing the war didn't happen until a few years down the line. In other words, as far as the Iraq war goes, Tet has already happened (probably in Abu Graib.)

McCain’s remarks were part of his case against setting benchmarks:
    McCain made his comment in explaining why he did not believe the Bush administration should set a date by which it should deem Bush's troop increase a success or a failure.
At which point his argument just makes no sense. Apparently even if, in a year or two, the Iraqi security forces remain so inept that they can’t prevent a large-scale attack, that’s OK with McCain.

I agree with McCain on one point: if we get hit with a major attack, then precipitously withdraw, that would embolden jihadists, as it did when we left Mogadishu. But what I fear most is not a Tet Offensive, but Beirut 2. I worry about a spectacular attack inside the Green Zone by one of the belligerents in the conflict (and let’s not forget that we don’t have The Enemy, we have a bunch of groups harboring varying degrees of unfriendliness.)

If any group demonstrates a capacity to breach the Green Zone with relative ease, both morale and operational capabilities will be seriously compromised. That’s the holy grail for the groups fighting against us now, and it’s probably a matter of "when" more than "if." It’s one more reason Bush’s shift from “Stay the Course” to “Stay the Course, Plus 10%” makes no sense to me.


Madrigal Maniac said...

Great read on the situation. I always used to say that McCain was the one Republican I would vote for. But the more I hear from him, the more I get concerned. He is really all over the place. The Tet Offensive has already begun. Thanks for making a great observation.