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April 10, 2008


There's disingenuousness flying all around here. McCain never said he'd be fine with 100 years of combat or war (though he hasn't yet said how many years of combat and war he is comfortable with).

At the same time, he did say he'd be fine with US troops remaining in the country for 100 to 10,000 years. He can explain that by pointing to North Korea and Japan (though the Dems can counter, pretty effectively, that those situations are in no way comparable to Iraq and the Mid-East). But trying to deny that McCain never said anything about a 100 year US troop presence in Iraq (as Mitch McConell is now trying to do) is just as misleading.

Once the dust settles and the Dems stop using the misleading interpretation of McCain's remarks, I think McCain is actually in a worse position; what he actually said is pretty bad policy and politics in and of itself, and now, via this pushback, he's absolutely married to it. The Dems don't need to stretch the comment, it works on its own.

I tend to agree with Dave. McCain clearly meant that he wants to keep a large troop presence in Iraq for many decades -- hopefully peaceful decades, with few-to-no US casualties -- for the purposes of protecting our interests in the region.

Note also what McCain does not say. He has never suggested that we can leave Iraq once it has a stable functioning government, or once the IEDs and gunfights drop to zero. Independent of the conditions in Iraq, he wants a long-lasting relationship between our two countries that would afford us forward operating bases with which to strike at terrorist targets and rogue regimes.

Marshall's quote is very cleanly worded (and 100% factually correct, BTW), and relies upon the reader's personal feelings for the implication.

If one thinks a peaceful Iraq with a huge US presence is _not_possible_, then 100 years reads as 100 years of dying. This is my sense of it and based on the tone of the piece you quoted, it sounds like JMM's as well.

If one believes Iraq will eventually be a peaceful host for our military power, a la Saudi Arabia, Marshall's quote reads fine. This is clearly the position of the hawks.

Dave is right though, McCain is now married to the idea of 'whatever it takes'. He could have just as easily said, "Look, we will get out completely one day, but I don't know if that's 5 or 20 or 100 years from now. We will leave when Iraq has a stable government." But he won't say that, because he does not want to leave.

... call into question the obvious meaning of McCain's comments.

Of course McCain didn't mean a war or occupation!

I think you're confusing the term "literal" with the term "obvious".

The literal meaning of John McCain's comments are that we will stay in Iraq forever in a post-WWII like alliance with a friendly Iraqi government.

The obvious meaning is that we aren't going to leave Iraq if McCain is elected president. His reference to 100, 1000, even 1 million years isn't meant to be taken literally and the comparison with Germany and Japan can't be either. You can't argue that it's obvious that he doesn't mean war or occupation, because that's the only question that truly faces him. There's no end in sight to the violence and no indication that the Iraqis will become more friendly to the US over time.

Ask him the question: Will we ever leave Iraq as long as the violence continues?

His answer would almost certainly be "No".

McCain isn't the only candidate who hasn't said how many years of combat and war he is comfortable with. Obama has said that he could send US troops back into Iraq under certain circumstances. In March ABC News reported:

[Obama] has advocated keeping a residual force in Iraq to strike against al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to protect diplomats and others in Iraq. If Iraqi politicians fail to reach a political resolution, he advocates pulling out of the training of Iraqi forces. Obama has also suggested the United States could reintervene in Iraq with "the international community" should civil war and genocide break out in Iraq and advocates closing Guantanamo Bay.

AFAIK Obama has not put limits on his potential reintervention in Iraq.

If you folks believe what you are putting here, let's get those troops home from Germany and South Korea ! Your pants are on fire.

John McCain's call for a 100 year war or occupation of Iraq shows a basic lack of understanding of the conflict in Iraq. He compares it to Japan or Korea, where there was no local insurgency to counter. It is clearly much closer to Vietnam in scope, and just like Vietnam, the longer we stay, the more stuck we get.

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