The Most Critical Component Of The Surge

5 comments July 26th, 2008at 01:18pm Posted by Eli

Time travel:

Let’s review:

* McCain said the surge started in 2007, after the Anbar Awakening that began in 2006.

* On Wednesday, McCain shifted gears and said the surge started in 2006, before the Anbar Awakening.

* On Thursday, McCain shifted gears again and said everyone except him is confused about what the surge is, and defined it as “a counterinsurgency strategy” that was launched before the troop escalation and the Anbar Awakening.

* And on Friday, McCain shifted gears again and re-embraced the original meaning of the word “surge,” which he now believes was launched shortly after the “birth” of the Anbar Awakening.

Just for fun, let’s not lose sight of the fact that McCain held all four of these competing and contradictory positions over the course of a single week.

And McCain is nevertheless basing his entire presidential campaign on his unrivaled expertise on, and support for, Bush’s Iraq policy.

It’s as if the McCain campaign is premised on the hope that voters aren’t paying any attention.

Well, not that voters aren’t paying any attention, so much as that the media won’t actually point any of this out.  It’s very easy to make that case that McCain’s foreign policy and war-making expertise are nonexistent, but no-one outside of the liberal blogosphere or the Obama campaign is making it.  I do hope that Obama puts out some nice aggressive “McCain Vs. McCain” ads this fall.

Entry Filed under: Elections,Iraq,McCain,Politics,Republicans


  • 1. Cujo359  |  July 26th, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    I’m picturing our nation’s press decked out in long scarves and sailor suits.

    That’s Lalla Ward, BTW, in the sailor suit.

  • 2. Eli  |  July 26th, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I know. I like Romana.

  • 3. Charles  |  July 26th, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    You’ve done a good job presenting in a clear and simple manner what had become a giant, murky cloud of ink, Eli. What’s ironic is that this whole episode probably represents McCain’s narcissistic inability to admit error.

    An accurate statement of the situation is that with Rumsfeld’s declining power, the professional military were free to implement standard counterinsurgency methods, which include both forming alliances with locals and concentrating troops in contested areas. The surge started after the formation of alliances with locals for, at a minimum, logistical reasons: it takes time to move men and materiel. So, maybe McCain meant to say, “The ‘Anbar Awakening’ occurred after the Administration had decided on the surge, but before troops had arrived.” That’s probably not true, but at least it’s not provably false.

    As pedantic as it may seem to focus on exactly what was said and what was meant, this episode is fair warning as to what a McCain presidency would be like. Presidents have to speak very carefully and very accurately. There are hundreds of millions of people parsing their words very closely, and acting accordingly. This could as easily have been about nuclear weapons and Iran, with much, much larger stakes hanging on the precise phrasing.

  • 4. Eli  |  July 26th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Well, more like a good job of quoting Steve Benen, but thanks.

    The bottom line is that McCain’s claim that the Anbar Awakening was due to the surge was either a baldfaced lie, or a clear indication that he has absolutely no idea what’s going on in Iraq.

    I know, hard to believe from a guy who claimed that Al Qaeda In Iraq was allied with Iran…

  • 5. Charles  |  July 27th, 2008 at 1:32 am


    You have to start doing your links in a visible color, Eli. Here I thought you were doing some brilliant writing, and it’s merely brilliant quoting.

    McCain is more likely to be clueless than lying. Come to think of it, how many people in the current military know what’s going on in Iraq? Certainly our serving family member doesn’t. Why should McCain be more perceptive than the rest of the officer corps?

  • 6. Eli  |  July 27th, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I am an *excellent* quoter.

    I think you’re going to have to deal with the gray links – I can’t give up my monochrome color scheme.

    Or you could go up to the color scheme selector (upper right, under the wee photo and search thingy) and change it to Inverse, which is probably more readable anyway…

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