In Columbus today, John McCain made his pitch that he, and not Barack Obama, is the candidate of hope. In a major if theoretical reversal of his commitment to a perpetual 100, a thousand or a million year American presence in Iraq, McCain declared that he "would hope to have achieved" a drawdown of most U.S. forces by the end of his first term in 2013. But given McCain's unbroken record of error of forecasting when it comes to Iraq, Americans should rightly view his new 10 year prediction with suspicion.
And with a total suspension of disbelief. In a speech that was more hypothetical thought exercise than policy address, McCain did his best John Lennon impersonation and asked Americans to "imagine all the people" (or at least most of them) back from Iraq by the end of his first term:
"By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated; and the Government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders. The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role."
While McCain's prognostication of peace, love and harmony in Iraq just 10 years after the U.S. invasion is a happy one, it should be viewed as nothing more as a charade that substitutes wishful thinking for serious policy. After all, as he has proved time and time again, John McCain's Iraq crystal ball is broken.
Here's is just a small sample of McCain's consistently - and devastatingly - wrong predictions about Iraq...
From visions of a rapid U.S. victory and Americans being greeted liberators to finding weapons of mass destruction and turning the corner, John McCain was tragically mistaken each and every time.
"Look, we're going to send young men and women in harm's way and that's always a great danger, but I cannot believe that there is an Iraqi soldier who is going to be willing to die for Saddam Hussein, particularly since he will know that our objective is to remove Saddam Hussein from power." (John McCain, September 15, 2002. )
"He's a patriot who has the best interests of his country at heart." (John McCain, on Ahmed Chalabi, 2003. )
"I remain confident that we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." (John McCain, June 11, 2003.)
"Absolutely. Absolutely." (John McCain, asked by Chris Matthews, "you believe that the people of Iraq or at least a large number of them will treat us as liberators?" March 12, 2003. )
"There's no doubt in my mind that we will prevail and there's no doubt in my mind, once these people are gone, that we will be welcomed as liberators." (John McCain, March 24, 2003.)
"I think the victory will be rapid, within about three weeks." (John McCain, January 28, 2003.)
"It's clear that the end is very much in sight...It won't be long. It, it'll be a fairly short period of time." (John McCain, April 9, 2003.)
"Well, then why was there a banner that said mission accomplished on the aircraft carrier?" (John McCain, responding to assertion by Fox News' Neil Cavuto that "many argue the conflict isn't over," June 11, 2003. )
"I'm confident we're on the right course." (John McCain, March 7, 2004. )
"We're either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months." (John McCain, November 12, 2006. )
"My friends, the war will be over soon, the war for all intents and purposes although the insurgency will go on for years and years and years." (John McCain, February 25, 2008.)
Facing the prospect of future beatings over his previous statements on an open-ended U.S. commitment in Iraq, John McCain is now asking Americans to forget he ever made them. McCain, too, is asking for national amnesia when it comes to his past attacks against Mitt Romney over supposed U.S. timetable for withdrawal:
''It's not a timetable; it's victory. It's victory, which I have always predicted. 'I'm not putting a date on it. It could be next month, it could be next year, it could be three years from now.''
In his Columbus speech, the mythical maverick issued the equivalent of a disclaimer, saying, "I cannot guarantee I will have achieved these things." As they say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. In John McCain's case, let's hope not.
(This piece was originally posted at Perrspectives.)