Troop surge in Iraq: Sen. John McCain and the surge

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This article is part of SourceWatch and Congresspedia coverage of the
Bush administration's war in Iraq
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The following article is about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the troop surge in Iraq.

A win-win for McCain

"McCain must be sweating bullets. If Bush decides to add troops, the strategy going forward in Iraq will be known as the McCain Doctrine. The Senator never thought Bush would actually go through with it," blogger Nate of StopJohnMcCain2008 wrote December 16, 2006. "For Bush, this presents an excellent opportunity to work on his legacy. Go with war hero John McCain’s plan for Iraq and it suddenly becomes his problem. Bush gets good press for trying something new, and John McCain watches his presidential hopes go down the drain."

On the December 17, 2006, Chris Matthews Show, "New York Times columnist David Brooks said that if President Bush takes McCain’s advice and sends more troops, it will help McCain politically — even if the troop surge fails. In that event, Brooks says, McCain will 'say with a lot of justice, it’s too late.' Brooks said people will not focus on the results of McCain’s plan but 'his conviction'," Judd Legum wrote at Think Progress.

"So here's how he wins by either winning or losing," zwerlst of the The Daily Kos Blog wrote November 14, 2006:

"[McCain] claims that early on he predicted that unless we send in enough troops to win we would lose the war and chaos would ensue. To remain consistent, he continues to say this, but now in the context of also being a 'critic' of past and current policy--'If they had only listened to me then...' But he knows, of course, that there is no way that anyone will agree to assign more soldiers to a hopeless or unpopular cause. So there is not a chance that his recommendation will be accepted, much less be put to the test and fail with blame then assigned to him. Rather, we will either stay the course (he's opposed to that) or, most assuredly, begin some sort of phased withdrawal (he's also opposed to that). Since either scenario inevitably leads to even more chaos, he gets to say, 'I told you so. If we had only had the vision, the perseverance, the guts to do it the right way (my way--with adequate forces) we would have prevailed. So don't tie me to Bush's failed policy. All along I had the winning plan and no one listened.' Perversely brilliant!" [1]

McCain's "doctrine"

McCain has generally been a hawkish member of Congress. Matt Welch, an assistant editor at the Los Angeles Times wrote an op-ed analysis of McCain's foreign affairs philosophy on November 26, 2006:

"McCain has been banging the drum from nearly Day One to put more boots on the ground in Iraq... 'There are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this,' he said on Meet the Press on Nov. 12, 'but they all require the presence of additional troops.' McCain is more inclined to start wars and increase troop levels than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. He has supported every U.S. military intervention of the last two decades, urged both presidents to rattle their sabers louder over North Korea and Iran, lamented the Pentagon's failure to intervene in Darfur and Rwanda and supported a general policy of 'rogue state rollback.' He's a fan of Roosevelt's Monroe-Doctrine-on-steroids stick-wielding in Latin America. And — like Bush — he thinks too much multilateralism can screw up a perfectly good war." [2]

McCain's resolution in support of troop buildup

On Monday, January 14, 2007, Senator McCain's office "released the language of the resolution he is introducing that supports President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq, and also sets 11 benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet. In a statement, Mr. McCain said that his resolution, unlike others in circulation (including Republican Senator John Warner's compromise proposal), 'avoids sending an inappropriate message to our troops.'" [3]

McCain on why strategy will not succeed

"In October 2006, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for 'another 20,000 troops in Iraq.' In January 2007, President Bush accepted the idea and announced he would send 21,500 more soldiers into the middle of Iraq’s civil war. McCain quickly endorsed the strategy.

"Since that time, McCain has been slowly back-pedaling from the escalation plan, offering numerous reasons for why the strategy will not succeed. He has argued the Pentagon was 'dragging its feet' in implementing the strategy. Now, he is arguing that the escalation is too small," Faiz Shakir reported January 21, 2007, for Think Progress.

On NBC's Meet the Press, January 21, 2007, "McCain said, 'I would have liked to have seen more' troops sent to Iraq. He added, 'If it had been up to me,' more U.S. troops would be on their way into Baghdad."

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