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May 31, 2008

ONYD: John McCain’s Drawdown

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:26 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I actually published my last post because I wanted to do this one, and thought that I should address the Memorial Day blunder by Obama first.

Much has been made this week of John McCain’s observation that it’s been over two years since Barack Obama has been to Iraq. That’s undoubtedly true of many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, but it’s probably at least a sound theory that someone campaigning to be president probably should get over there and see what’s happening on the ground. McCain even offered to serve as Obama’s personal tour guide which probably isn’t that great an idea politically, as it plays directly into McCain’s attempt to portray his foreign policy expertise as his greatest strength.

That expertise came into question early in the campaign, when Senator Joe Liebermann had to remind McCain who in Iraq liked their neighbors in Iran and who didn’t, and it came further under fire this week with McCain’s statement on the levels of troops and violence in Iraq.

“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,” McCain said to reporters on Thursday. Unfortunately for him, the general pre-surge level is considered to be 130,000 troops.

McCain tried to backtrack without admitting he was wrong by saying that he was actually referring to the troop levels following the current rotations, which are set to be completed by July. Unfortunately, that didn’t help much; following the return of the two additional brigades in July (5 were sent as part of the surge, 3 are already back), there will be approximately 140,000 troops still there.

McCain’s camp still didn’t back down, instead using their “explanation” to take another shot at Obama; spokesman Tucker Bounds said, “What informed people understand, John McCain included, is that American troops are not even close to Surge levels. Three of the five Army ‘Surge’ brigades have been withdrawn and additional Marines that were initially deployed for the ‘Surge’ have come home as well — the remaining two brigades will be home in July. Talk about a political stunt, it’s sending out campaign surrogates to parse words about a topic Barack Obama has no experience with, and has shown zero interest in learning about.”

Well, thanks, Tucker, but that isn’t what McCain said. And when your people tried to explain it, they played it down as a semantic argument over verb tense. That’s not the same thing as “we meant it was lower than the surge”. That’s a different statement entirely.

And that bit about Mosul being quiet? Three suicide bombings in and around Mosul on Thursday left 30 people dead. Hopefully Mr. McCain’s plans are not to bring that type of quiet to the U.S.

Oh, and Mr. Bounds? Just because Obama hasn’t shown an interest in learning about Iraq from John McCain, that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in learning about it. He probably just wants the truth.
The 300 Project: 30/105


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