Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 15, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

McCAIN AND WITHDRAWAL....Back at the end of January, John McCain's coup de grâce against Mitt Romney was a completely bogus charge that Romney wanted to "wave a white flag" in Iraq. "My friends, I was there," McCain said. "He said he wanted a timetable for withdrawal."

This was an early indication that McCain was pretty much willing to say and do anything to win the nomination. But that was then and this is now: polls show that Americans overwhelmingly favor a withdrawal from Iraq and McCain wants to win the presidency. Result: in a speech today in Ohio outlining his vision for what he wants the world to look like at the end of his first term, McCain says he'll bring the troops home:

By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated; and the Government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders. The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.

So that's that. McCain expects to withdraw all but a handful of troops from Iraq by 2013. Sure, he's just sort of fantasizing here, and I imagine we'll hear some revising and extending once reporters start asking him pointed questions about this. But his intent is obvious: he wants to let the voting public know that he really, really wants to get out of Iraq soon, just like Barack Obama. It's looking more and more as if everyone's going to be campaigning against the war this year. Welcome aboard, Senator.

Kevin Drum 11:13 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

I had an alternate interpretation along the lines of "after four years in the presidency I will have managed to solve all of the problems in Iraq by waving a magic wand." Which I guess sort of demonstrates my view on McCain: I'm more willing to believe he operates in a magical fantasy land where these problems are easily soluble than I am to believe that he might actually bring troops home with any of the problems unsolved.

Posted by: Jonathan Ehrich on May 15, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

2013?

Is McCain planning on being a one-term president?

And I am not impressed, nor should any one else be. After five years of Friedman units, and just-around-the-corner rhetoric, dead-enders and last throes, any nod toward withdrawal in the distant future is a joke that can be completely discounted for the calculated election-year pandering it is.

Nobody wanted our troops out of Iraq more than Joe Lieberman, except, you know, maybe Chris Shays. But that was before an election.

Posted by: inkadu on May 15, 2008 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

It sounds like this is purely a reaction to the "100 years" attacks. So now, when Democrats bring that up, he and his lackeys can say "that's false! He wants them home by 2013". And because they have the media cowed, no one will call him a flip flopper.

Posted by: Seitz on May 15, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Remember? All JMcC has to do is go over there and tell the Sunnis, Shia, AQi, etc. to "stop the bull$hit".

That will work.

Posted by: ESaund on May 15, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

After all of McCain's (and the rest of the Republicans') predictions about Iraq have turned out to be flat wrong, (a) why should anyone believe him this time, and (b) what if he turns out to be wrong again?

Charles

Posted by: charles Moore on May 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone's missing the obvious frame of this. McCain has made a huge bru-ha-ha over the fact that his 100 year comment was "distorted" because he really meant an occupation after we won. But he wouldn't say when that victory would be. As JMM pointed out, that doesn't fix anything. By saying McCain will "leave" in 2013, you've just taken the 100 year comment out of our arsenal.

Not only is leaving in 2013 dellusional, and just another of a long list of revised departure dates from McCain/Bush, but all McCain has done is tell us when he expects those 100 years of occupation to START.

This is the headline: "McCain says 100 Year Occupation can begin in 2013".

Posted by: Memekiller on May 15, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Is it just a coincidence or is 2013 envisioned as the start of McCain's second term?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on May 15, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

So, just like Bush, McCain intends to pass the Iraq problem on to whomever is elected in 2012, rather than dealing with it while in office.

Got it.

Not sure how this makes him part of the "withdraw from Iraq" crowd, nor how it distances him from Bush, but if he thinks it does, fine. Just another thing to bash him with come the general election.

Posted by: Mark D on May 15, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

2013...? The troops would come home after McCain is reelected.

This is probably when the withdrawal will occur even if Obama is elected.

Posted by: Brojo on May 15, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Just long enough so that he won't be held to the promise when he is trying to run for reelection in 2012.

Posted by: kis on May 15, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Convenient timing--just after the start of his second term.

Reminiscent of Nixon's old ploys--look how long we stayed in Vietnam and how many lives were lost AFTER he promised peace with honor during the campaign...

Posted by: Jeff from WI on May 15, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

2013...? The troops would come home after McCain is reelected.

Precisely. Then, after the 2013 inaugural, McCain sadly decides they have to stay in through 2016, and we can't do anything about it because the "accountability moment" has passed.

Posted by: jimBOB on May 15, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm looking for some boldness here. Why not promise 2012 and then hold them accountable for their promise during the re-election campaign?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 15, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

The next 1200 Months in Iraq will be........

Posted by: R.L. on May 15, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, that's a huge mistake for McCain, considering 63% of Americans want to bring the troops home by the end of 2008.

He's going to lose big time.

Posted by: DR on May 15, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"...and it does not play a direct combat role AND WE'LL HAVE FOUND THE PONY!"

Posted by: reino on May 15, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

2013

Are we going to have a party?

We could celebrate spending 5 trillion dollars on
a "functioning democracy" while trashing our own.

10 years. Gosh that's only 10% of 100.

Next we'll here how John can solve global warming, reduce poverty worldwide, and bring back the Dodo from extinction!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 15, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I believe McCain outlined Obama's plan

Posted by: yep on May 15, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Did you stay up too late last night?

You state: I imagine we'll hear some revising and extending once reporters start asking him pointed questions about this.

Based on past performance, what makes you believe "reporters" will ask pointed questions...or actually any questions at all.

Obviously all of the McCain claims are pulled out of his a..s. He would have us believe that he can predict where things will be in five years in Iraq? Hell, he can't even tell the difference between Shiia and Sunni!!!

Posted by: on May 15, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"...once reporters start asking him pointed questions about this."

Dream on.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on May 15, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

On ABC news last night Charles Gibson and George Stepinapileofit they made snide comments during the live coverage of Edwards' endorsement of Obama in Michigan like, "Of course this is timed perfectly for the evening news," and "You just can't buy this kind of coverage." Standard fare for coverage of Democrats.

So where's the media's skepticism of McCain's announced Iraq pullout date? MSM just passes on 2013 like McCain has magical predictive abilities. Such hypocrisy.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on May 15, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's entire speech was just a delusional fantasy. Of course, a lot of Americans like that.

Posted by: AJB on May 15, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

What a complete and total asshole McCain is.

Posted by: rbe1 on May 15, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

What a complete and total asshole McCain is.

Posted by: rbe1 on May 15, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

So under John McCain's most optimistic scenario, kids who were six years old on 9/11 will be still get a chance to die while we exact our revenge on people who had nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Tom Nawrocki on May 15, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

This is the headline: "McCain says 100 Year Occupation can begin in 2013".

Bingo. And why would he think it would be possible to begin this small-scale "bases just like in Korea" thing in 2013? Not really clear. There's apparently some kind of magic carpet ride getting us from where we are now to there.

Posted by: anonymous on May 15, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter what state we leave Iraq in, just so long as we can claim victory with a straight face.

And 2013? I think John is feeling his age, and his advancing senile dementia, and knows he can (at best) only be a one termer.

Posted by: bigTom on May 15, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

We'll never be able to claim victory with a straight face. Let's claim victory with our fingers crossed and run like Hell.

Posted by: reino on May 15, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

McCain:

Four. More. Years.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on May 15, 2008 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Sure, he's just sort of fantasizing here...

Basra is under Iraqi government control. Sadr City is ending now. AQI will be rubbed out of the north shortly. Maliki has risen as a popular political power for the whole country.

I predict that from September on, or even earlier, will be calm in Iraq. With potentially major influence on our own election.

2013 is a long, long way away.

Posted by: neill on May 16, 2008 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Poor Repugs, it's still about the war. Who a thunk it?

McCain is really going to have to shorten the 2013 verison too, in the end. I mean, four more years, will certainly Amerians are going to say "screw that".

It's more, more, more, war, war, war. Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism, bin Laden, bin Laden and tax cut, tax cut, tax cut, poof. Ding, ding, ding, there is John McBush in the corner, and he can't seem to get out of it. The corner he painted himself into of course.

Expect so-called straight talker McCain to flip-flop on this war issue like a fish out of water. Repugs don't know what they are anymore, but its a web of their own making. It's called Deceit.

Posted by: Me-again on May 16, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

If you withdraw according to an Obama quota (which I believe is actually a completely empty campaign slogan), instead of basing withdrawal on the facts on the ground, you will be left holding a burning bag full of shit, with no choice but to try to stamp it out.

Have fun!

Posted by: neill on May 18, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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