John McCain hasn’t spent much time talking about Afghanistan during the presidential campaign, but now that “other” war is deteriorating, the Re
July 16, 2008

John McCain hasn’t spent much time talking about Afghanistan during the presidential campaign, but now that “other” war is deteriorating, the Republican candidate has discovered his new-found interest in the conflict.

Republican John McCain said Tuesday he knows “how to win wars” and that the strategy of increasing troop levels in Iraq should also be applied to Afghanistan. […]

McCain has described Obama’s call for withdrawal from Iraq as tantamount to declaring defeat and points to the lower levels of violence in Iraq as evidence that sending additional U.S. troops there has been a successful strategy.

“Sen. Obama will tell you we can’t win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq. In fact, he has it exactly backwards,” McCain told a town hall meeting. “It is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan.”

In other words, McCain’s new policy on Afghanistan — I say “new” because up until now, he hasn’t actually articulated a policy on Afghanistan — can be summarized this way: “Just do what we’ve been doing in Iraq.” Seriously. That’s the policy.

This, of course, doesn’t make any sense. The wars are entirely different. The causes of violence are completely different. The competing factions are completely different. Oh, and by the way, Iraq hasn’t gone especially well.

McCain seemed particularly fond of this line from his speech: “I know how to win wars.” Now, with all due respect to the senator’s military service, what is it, exactly, that leads McCain to think he has this knowledge? McCain hasn’t, you know, actually won any wars.

My suspicion is, McCain means he endorsed the surge, the surge led to victory in Iraq, and if he can just bring more surges to more countries, American would keep winning. In other words, when McCain says he knows “how to win wars,” he means he’s concluded, “Surges = Victories.”

It simply never occurred to me that the Republican Party would nominate another presidential candidate as sophomoric and confused as George W. Bush. It just didn’t seem possible.

And yet, here we are.

McCain also argued today, “Just as we have worked over the past 18 months to stabilize Iraq by bringing together its neighbors, this kind of diplomacy is just as important for Afghanistan.”

I hope someone can help me out with this one. I like to think I keep up fairly well on current events, but I don’t quite recall the period in which we “brought together” Iraq’s neighbors. For that matter, I’m still looking for this “stabilized” Iraq.

The fall-out-of-the-chair moment, however, came when McCain insisted, Obama “has no strategy.... All he has done is say we need more troops.”

I see. So, what’s McCain’s strategy? We need more troops — and an Afghanistan czar.

There was also this gem:

“[U]nderstand this, when I am commander in chief, there will be nowhere the terrorists can run and nowhere they can hide,” he said.

Unless, of course, the terrorists hide in Pakistan. In that case, McCain even talking about possibly pursuing terrorists is reckless and irresponsible. And it’s not as if there are any terrorists hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, right?

Patrick Barry summarized the situation nicely.

John McCain fancies himself an expert on national security, but looking at his policy for Afghanistan … I just don’t understand how he can still make that claim with a straight face. It should be clear to anyone who follows this issue or cares about the threat that instability in Afghanistan poses to Americans, that John McCain’s policy is an absolute sham.

As is McCain’s reputation for competence.

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