June 3, 2008

McCain and Iraq In the Los Angeles Times today, Jonah Goldberg began the right's extreme makeover of John McCain's disastrous record on Iraq. Declaring "there is one candidate who's been consistently right about the war, and it isn't the Democrat," Goldberg invents a fictional McCain at odds with President Bush from the outset of the war:

"Meantime, there was the supposedly dogmatic McCain challenging Bush's approach to Iraq nearly from the get-go."

As the history shows, not so much.

Demonstrating that experience is truly no substitute for judgment, John McCain like President Bush was wrong at almost every turn in promoting the invasion and occupation of Iraq. From his predictions of a short war and claims U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators to his announcements of mission accomplished, his ongoing confusion over friend and foe in Iraq and so much more, McCain's is an unbroken legacy of error.

Here, then, is a brief summary of John McCain's consistently wrong record on Iraq:

On the Run-Up to War

"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.)

"But the fact is, I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past. But any military man worth his salt is going to have to prepare for any contingency, but I don't believe it's going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991." (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.)

On Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction "

Proponents of containment claim that Iraq is in a "box." But it is a box with no lid, no bottom, and whose sides are falling out. Within this box are definitive footprints of germ, chemical and nuclear programs." (John McCain, February 13, 2003.)

"I remain confident that we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." (John McCain, June 11, 2003.)

On Being Greeted as Liberators

"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.)

"Not only that, they'll be relieved that he's not in the neighborhood because he has invaded his neighbors on several occasions." John McCain, asked by Chris Matthews, "And you think the Arab world will come to a grudging recognition that what we did was necessary?" (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.)

On a Rapid Victory and Mission Accomplished

"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.)

"We won a massive victory in a few weeks, and we did so with very limited loss of American and allied lives." (John McCain, May 22, 2003.)

"I thought it was wrong at the time. Do I blame him for that specific banner? I can't." (John McCain, on President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech, May 1, 2008.)

"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 have said a long time that reconstruction of Iraq would be a long, long, difficult process, but the conflict -- the major conflict is over, the regime change has been accomplished, and it's very appropriate." (John McCain, 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.)

On the Safe Streets of Baghdad

"[There] there "are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today." John McCain, after touring a Baghdad market wearing a bulletproof vest and guarded by "100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead, (April 1, 2007.)

"There's problems in America with safe neighborhoods as we well know." (John McCain, March 8, 2008.)

On President Bush and His Team

We are very fortunate that our president in these challenging days can rely on the counsel of a man who has demonstrated time and again the resolve, experience, and patriotism that will be required for success and the hard-headed clear thinking necessary to prevail in this global fight between good and evil." (John McCain, on Dick Cheney, July 16, 2004.)

"I think he strengthened our national defenses. I think he has a good team around him." (John McCain, on President Bush, September 3, 2004. )

"I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence." (John McCain, on whether he had confidence in Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, December 15, 2004.)

On the Non-Existent Alliance Between Al Qaeda and Iran

"But Al Qaeda is there, they are functioning, they are supported in many times, in many ways by the Iranians." (John McCain, February 28, 2008.)

"As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they're moving back into Iraq." (John McCain, March 17, 2008.)

"[Iranian operatives are] "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back." (John McCain, March 18, 2008.)

"[It is] common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." (John McCain, March 18, 2008.)

"Al Qaeda and Shia extremists -- with support from external powers such as Iran -- are on the run but not defeated." McCain campaign statement, (March 19, 2008.)

"To think that I would have some lack of knowledge about Sunni and Shia after my eighth visit and my deep involvement in this issue is a bit ludicrous." (John McCain, March 19, 2008.)

"Do you still view Al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat? Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shiites overall…" (John McCain, questioning General David Petraeus, April 8, 2008.)

On a Permanent American Military Presence in Iraq

"We cannot keep our forces indefinitely staged in the region. Were we to attempt again to contain Saddam, we would eventually have to withdraw them. The world is full of dangers and, more likely than not, we will need some of those brave men and women to face them down." (John McCain, February 13, 2003.)

"We have had troops in South Korea for 60 years and nobody minds." (John McCain, June 7, 2007.)

"Make it a hundred." John McCain, told that President Bush had said American troops could remain in Iraq for 50 years, (January 3, 2008.)

"I asked McCain about his 'hundred years' comment, and he reaffirmed the remark, excitedly declaring that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 'a thousand years' or 'a million years,' as far as he was concerned." (David Corn, January 3, 2008.)

"The U.S. could have a military presence anywhere in the world for a long period of time." (John McCain, February 20, 2008.)

"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." (John McCain, May 15, 2008.)

"I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr city are quiet and it's long and it's hard and it's tough and there will be setbacks." John McCain, on a day when Mosul was rocked by suicide bombs and U.S. troop strength remained abve pre-surge level, (May 30, 2008.)

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