McCain at AEI

One of our readers pointed out Senator McCain’s remarks at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) last week.

I invite comment on his address.

Pat Lang

Download 20051110_iraq.pdf

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20 Responses to McCain at AEI

  1. Geoff says:

    I can’t seem to d-load it…

  2. Geoff says:

    In the beginning he speaks in terms of months, why?
    I agree with him WRT the pull-out-now crowd. But he seems to like to attack Sen. Kerry. Prelude to ’08?? I hope not (for the Dmems).
    “Clear and Stay”!!! Finally!
    I doubt they can regain the support for the war at home now.
    My question: “Why did we go into Iraq in the first place?”
    McCain, I had some respect for him but what he let happen to his family in SC in ’00 is unforgiveable, all respect is gone

  3. ECF says:

    I think Mc Cain, for whom I would have voted if he had been our Repub candidate, is being now quite disingenuous.
    We iniciated a war of conquest in Iraq when we invaded, under false pretenses, so now we must continue it in the teeth of resistance of many Irakis to our occuppation? So, notwhistanding our complete mishandling of the war in itself by the Administration, we should now leave its management into the hands of those that proved themselves incompetents, and who “misled us”(read: lied) into it? That’s the gist of his talk, sort of betraying some of the higher values dearest to America, its rule of law, and its Constitution. I don’t think I’ll vote for him in 2008.
    So, again it comes down to partisanship in how we view our Constitution. I won’t go for it.
    To all honest Republicans, I say impeach Cheney, Vice Torturer in Chief, and Rumsfeld, the main culprits in this historical treason.

  4. annon II says:

    Of course McCain is a stay the course guy. His pilot in 2000 was Billy Kristol, after all.

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Campaign manager?

  6. BH says:

    I love the way McCain continues to talk about doing all these things in the future tense. For almost everything he proposes, the future is gone.
    His proposals may have worked if the US started on them in May 2003. But we’ll never know. Bush was too busy then with the flight suit and cod piece.
    General Shinseki was right in 2002 and he said it would take more than twice as many soldiers as we have in Iraq now. How many more soldiers does McCain think we need? 50,000 more won’t get it now, especially as bad as things have gotten. The Army can’t even keep the guys they have now. Were are these new soldiers going to come from?
    Time is always on the side of the guerrilla. Time is the one thing that the Bush/Rumsfeld Army has given the Iraqi guerrillas. They can’t get that time back.

  7. John Howley says:

    In today’s WaPo, John Edwards adds his name to the growing list of Democratic politicians saying “If I knew then what I know now, I would have voted differently…” Maybe. See Anyway, what does he propose? First, draw down U.S. forces as the Iraqi Army is trained and equipped. Secondly, train and equip the Iraqi Army better. Third, initiate an international diplomatic effort involving Iraq’s neighbors. Sorta holds together, if you read it fast while watching TV or sitting on the can. But his view, like many similar discussions, assumes that (1) an “Iraqi Army” does or can exist and (2) that we are or will actually train and equip this entity. I contend that this “Army” does not exist. We have some souped up pesh mergas and Shiite militias wearing uniforms we provided. Whatever this entity is, it is functioning as a heavy police force and not as an Army directed at defending the national territory against foreign invasion. Furthermore, we have no intention of providing modern tanks, heliocopters and modern assault rifles to this “Army.” Do we even give the Iraqis night-vision equipment? (A simple yes or no will do.) Now, contrast Edwards with McCain who says: “While the U.S. and its partners are training Iraqi security forces at a furious pace, these Iraqis should SUPPLEMENT, NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR, the coalition forces on the ground. Instead of drawing down, we should be ramping up….” (AEI speech, my emphasis). So, McCain would have the Iraqis remain in the “little brother” role while GI Joe charges in with both feet to “clear and hold.” After ten years of GI Joe, we’ll still have the same problem: Who or what is the Iraqi Army? Finally, underlying both McCain and Edwards is the assumption of a significant U.S. military presence inside Iraq for the indefinite future. Whether the troop count goes up or down, it’s $100 billion year for another ten years. Remember the monkey trap? The monkey reaches inside the bars for the food and can’t withdraw his paw because he refuses to open his fist to release the food. Or is it more like holding a wolf by the ears? Here’s the bottom line: We (the Ivy-educated smart guys who run the country) have no intention of creating an Iraqi Army and no intention of leaving Iraq. Everything else is smokescreen.

  8. John Howley says:

    Who gets the recycled Hungarian tanks? Chalabi or Barzani?
    Iraq army receives second-hand Hungarian tanks
    12 Nov 2005 15:23:21 GMT
    Source: Reuters
    BAGHDAD, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Iraq’s underequipped new army has received 77 tanks and 36 troop carriers donated by the Hungarian government and NATO, the ministry of defence said on Saturday.
    Disbanded after the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003, the army is now being rebuilt from scratch as it battles an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since then.
    Major General Salih Sirhan said the tanks and troop carriers, as well as four rescue trucks, had been delivered to Taji base south of Baghdad. All were previously used by the Hungarian army and have been refitted, he said.

  9. ikonoklast says:

    About a week into the invasion of Iraq I was talking to a friend, a veteran of the European Theater in WWII. He has won the Silver Star, his division was the recipient of five battle stars, including the Battle of the Bulge. He went on to serve for twenty years in the Reserve.
    When I asked him what he thought about the then-current campaign, his remarks were to the effect that there weren’t enough people on the ground. Where were all the MP companies? How were they going to police the country after they won? His recollections of France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Czechoslovakia were that the Allies made sure they kept control of the liberated areas after the combat troops moved on, and he shared some anecdotes of run-ins he’d had with military police while visiting the rear. He had a good point, as subsequent events in Iraq have shown.
    Mr. McCain goes to great lengths arguing the tired point that “we broke it, we bought it.” Surely honor and common decency demand that we stay in Iraq to clean up the mess. I would like to be able to convince myself that this is the problem of the administration that got us into it in the first place, not my own as someone who never believed the rationale for invasion. But I feel that we all as Americans have a collective responsibility. For it or against it, one way or the other, we all allowed it to happen. If we’re truly a democratic republic we must share both the successes and failures.
    So what are the senator’s suggestions for solving the problem? They sound eerily reminiscent of strategies used in Vietnam. Substitute “safe hamlets” for “oil spots.” Substitute “pressure Cambodia” for “pressure Syria.” “Get a military counterinsurgency strategy and integrate it politically” sounds like Vietnamization. And best of all, “win the homefront,” which in McCain’s interpretation means “support the President, and you Democrats and critics should just shut up.”
    One salient difference between the wars is that we’ve learned the lesson of the importance of unit solidarity. Unfortunately, this means the same units rotate in for multiple tours. I doubt that this is the best solution to that problem, and it makes the senator’s goal of “keeping senior officers in place” much more difficult. It’s no mystery why the tiny majority of our people fighting feel like victims; it’s a totally unfair system. At this stage Iraq looks like Vietnam done on the cheap. Bad memories of bad times.
    Instead of, or in addition to, Mr. McCain’s problematic strategies, we might be better served by actually supporting the troops we have there and getting enough of them to do the job. Instead of bloviating, give them the equipment they still lack after years of promises and billions of dollars thrown at other fruitless projects. Repair the water and electrical infrastructure. Forget about our domestic political games and neocon v. liberal stances and fix the problem. Forget about filling the pockets of connected corporations.
    Accept the fact that we’ve blown it thus far, wake up from the dream of economic conquest and American empire. Take Iraq on Iraq’s terms – that fact-based reality thing – bring in whoever or whatever you need from the international political and religious communities and address the issues. Convince the Iraqis that there will actually be an Iraq to fight for, and maybe we can start bringing people home.
    Senator, I don’t agree that it’s been worth the present and likely future costs to get rid of Hussein. Our international standing and reputation has been squandered. If Iraq is the main front on the war on terror we’re the ones who have made it that. I really hope that Iraqis are happy to keep dying to keep us safe in front of our big screen TV’s here at home, the war merely a sideshow to most peoples’ lives. Shameful.
    When I was a kid, Americans were the good guys. Weren’t we?

  10. JH says:

    Bumper sticker spotted today:
    I would add that Syria is Arabic for Cambodia, but it doesn’t have the same ring about it…

  11. bygraves says:

    I am sorry but I do not want my child to fight Bush’s war. I do not see it is a fight worth one death let alone all thats died.

  12. Serving Patriot says:

    John Howley,
    Have you read James Fallows’ new article in the Atlantic? (
    I’m not all the way through it yet, but he attempts to explain the very issue you raise vis-a-vis standing up an Iraqi Army.
    Money quote I read was: “On the current course we will have two options,” I was told by a Marine lieutenant colonel who had recently served in Iraq and who prefers to remain anonymous. “We can lose in Iraq and destroy our army, or we can just lose.”
    Not a very hopeful sign eh? And yet another reason (beyond McCain’s siding with W against a fellow veteran in 2004) not to follow him further down this rabbit hole we are in.

  13. McCain has some good ideas.
    But . . . .
    First, I am pessimistic that the civilian leadership could ever get the policy coordination right, even on little issues. From my observation in Baghdad, we have bred a meritocracy which is adverse to the risks of making decisions, sharing information, and working cooperatively. More like: Guard my sandbox at all costs.
    Also, it’s too bad Rumsfeld was fighting the expansion of the Army up to the beginning of 2004, when any half-sane observer knew we were going to need more soldiers, just to sustain the rotations over the next 2 years.
    Now, it’s too late to even recruit the numbers necessary, with Young America hip to the fact that if you join, you might not be able to get out at your ETS, going into your third tour in Iraq.

  14. ikonoklast says:

    Col. Lang –
    Unit solidarity is essential. We just don’t have enough units to spread the load. Many Reservists and National Guard personnel, not to mention regulars, have now served two or three tours with no end in sight. Then add to this those who have completed their commitments and are held under the stop-loss policy. “You go to war with the army you have,” as Mr. Rumsfeld observed, and this is what happens when you haven’t planned for enough army to do the job. Or just as bad, you haven’t looked at your options for a worst-case scenario.
    We’ve been in Iraq for well over two years, Afghanistan even longer. Compare this with what was accomplished in the period 1942-1944. Where are the efforts to “ramp up” manpower and the production of materiel? The armed services are shrinking and the troops still don’t have adequate equipment. Marines are driving amphibious vehicles in the desert; it would be a joke if it weren’t so sad.
    For all their chest-beating and waving the bloody shirt about a brutal and protracted struggle, I have to wonder if the leadership is even trying. After all, it’s so much easier to spew warlike rhetoric and blame everything that goes wrong on the CIA, or the media, or the State Department, or the Pentagon, or even an individual soldier. Or perhaps they’re not venal and are simply incompetent.
    Meanwhile good people die.

  15. Dan says:

    GZC: This sentence was almost perfect (capturing Green Zone… erhm “International Zone” thinking for going on 3 years now):
    “From my observation in Baghdad, we have bred a meritocracy which is adverse to the risks of making decisions, sharing information, and working cooperatively.”
    But I think the word you were looking for was not meritocracy, but “mediocracy.”

  16. Michael Murry says:

    Since this thread has to do with some of Senator John McCain’s recent comments, I’d like to throw in here something a friend sent me to look at. Check out McCain doing standard-issue White House talking points about the now-universally discredited “reaons” (i.e., “rationales”) for invading Iraq and overthrowing its political, social, and economic order. From a snippet of what McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Quote:
    “Every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russians, the French … all reached the same conclusion.”
    Now, when Bush and Rove went after McCain in the now-notorious 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, they put out the dirt that perhaps his time in captivity as a POW had resulted in brain damage. Like many people, I considered that tawdry tactic a low blow, especially since McCain didn’t have all that much of a brain to damage in the first place. Still, given the abject stupidity of his above remarks, perhaps I’ll have to revise my opinion in favor of the character assassins.
    First of all, McCain’s comment flies immediately in the face of two well-known and long discredited forms of bogus argumentation: (1) the Appeal to Common Opinion (“everybody else thinks so”) and (2) the Tu QuoQue (“you do it, too”) fallacies.
    Since our C.I.A. Can’t Identify Anything — like the location of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, for example — maintaining that other “intelligence” agencies can’t identify anything either only points to the sorry state of “intelligence” all the way around. This fallacy also sometimes goes under the heading of “misery loves company.” The widespread, even universal belief in a falsehood doesn’t make it true.
    Furthermore, the fact that millions of people all over the world readily saw through the flimsy and laughable product of this putative “intelligence community” only reinforces the conclusion that most countries in the world would find themselves better informed (not to mention less heavily taxed) by abolishing these corrupt bureaucratic sinecures and saving themselves some seriously wasted money.
    Secondly, attempting to deflect criticism of one’s position by accusing others of thinking the same way violates both the rebuttal and relevance criteria of sound argumentation. This line of fallacious “reasoning” also goes under the general heading of the “ad hominem” (i.e., “addressed to the man”) dodge. That anyone on the Face the Nation program — or in the general viewing public — would let McCain get away with such phoney posturing really says all we need to know about the sorry state of political discourse in America. A raucous fit of national jeering would have accompanied McCain’s statement in any country with a reasonably educated populace.
    Actually, though, I understand that someone on the program did try to ask a Mr. Hadley (the President’s National Security Advisor) why people should believe U.S. claims about the nuclear plans of Iran given the failure of intelligence about Iraq. Mr. Hadley supposedly replied by claiming that an “international consensus” about Iran validates the administration’s position.
    This man Hadley (the then-deputy-NSA, I believe) fell on his rubber sword not long ago by taking the rap for his boss, Condoleeza Rice, who as the NSA at the time, should have kept Bush’s whopper about some “uranium” stuff in Niger out of his State-of-the-Union speech. Rice and Hadley, of course, both received promotions for their “loyalty.” We should go back to using sharp metal swords like the Romans did — and award our Medals of Freedom posthumously.
    Anyway, as much as I feel sorry for what McCain suffered as a POW, I really can’t excuse his pathetic lust for the “commander-in-chief’s” silly little Napoleonic baton. If he didn’t know what millions of the rest of us knew about the patent bullshit Bush and Company kept trying to feed us, then he doesn’t deserve to occupy the presidency of any country. Gullible credulity should not constitute a qualification for higher office in America, although I couldn’t argue with anyone who maintains that it does. We’ve already got one brain damaged occupant in the White House. We don’t need to replace him with another.

  17. Curious says:

    I don’t know where to put it. but I find this too amazing not to post. This thread seems to be the best fit.
    A Supreme court justice raises a very big question to the nation regarding detention.
    From Chris Nelson’s Nelson Report tonight — is retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor lobbing a few bombshells of her own at the Bush administration:
    … O’Connor posed to the Cadets of West Point a series of rhetorical admonitions: “What law governs the detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects? And how are you to know what standards apply?” The fault lies not with US courts, she said, but with the Bush Administration, and to these future officers she asked, “What does your duty demand? It is hard enough to answer the first two questions, but harder still when the nation’s elected leaders are silent about the last?” …
    This torture/detainee treatment issue is one that Bush has abdicated so totally, it has opened up such a moral leadership vacuum that McCain is dancing circles around. What’s one thing American troops are known for – doctrine, training, clear guidelines — that’s what makes troops pros in the field. And what’s the one thing this administration is depriving them of? Clear guidelines. If detainees die in their hands and the press learns of it, the troops will go to jail, not their commanders. The 9/11 commission weighs in on this as well, faulting the administration.

  18. Curious says:

    Compilation of comment
    Page 2. (Iraq force not ready.)
    Iraq force that we want will never be ready. Military force is the core of a nation, and it is build upon legitimacy. What we are building is a security guard for puppet government. It’s not an army. An army raises form its people, for the people, by the people. The fact that after 2 years we are still getting nowhere should reveal this fundamental problem.
    pp2. (Moral duty not to abandon)
    It is also our moral duty to stop pretending we know what we are doing. Next thing we know McCain gonna blurb it is our moral duty to bomb a village to save a village. McCain is confusing protecting national pride with ‘moral duty’. There is not a single thical investigation can justify his ‘moral’ standing.
    pp3. (Spreading instability)
    Obviously Jordan latest bombing just debunk Mccain blurb about our continuing effort in Iraq actually preventing instability to spread. (How do we got such dumbasses in the Office anyway?)
    If we want to create stable neigboors. then I think dealing directly with those countries are the way to go.
    pp4. Jihadis gonna laugh at our asses.
    Too effing late, they already laugh. Pretending we act tough and keep going is just pathetic ego playing. It has nothing to do with actually solving Iraq problem.
    pp4. (adopt counter insurgency strategy)
    what do you think the troop is doing right now? picnicking? You can’t squash insurgency without a legitimate government. THAT IS THE POINT of insurgency. They are rebelling. (mcCain then go on blathering about bunch of wishfull thinking)
    pp7. (build loyalty in armed forces)
    Kinda hard to build loyalty if you keep bombing their family and countrymen don’t ya think? Do you think the Iraqis army are stupid and don’t know they are being occupied? They join the army cause there is no other job. They couldn’t care less about ‘Bush democracy project’
    pp8. (Pressure Syria.)
    Nice way gaining cooperation. Hey maybe we should bomb the presidential palace too, then they will really love us and help our cause in Iraq. How about Letting Israel fly over a couple of time and drop bombs in the meantime? (duh?) (I bet the Syrian is thinking. yeah. maybe we should reactivate hebollah and move them to Iraq, see how long this ‘pressure’ will last)
    pp9. (win home front)
    Hey let’s keep lying! Those stupid voters, what do they know. they love Fox news and our lies. We are turning the corner!!
    pp.10 (let me conclude the obvious)
    … McCain is a dumbass? That much is an obvious conclusion to me.

  19. John Howley says:

    The Fallows article in the December Atlantic merits close reading. Only if we create an Iraqi Army capable of defeating the insurgency do we have any hope of an “honorable exit” which he defines as an absence of chaos following U.S. withdrawal. The alternative is a “dishonorable exit” which we will get (sooner or later) if we fail to build an Iraqi Army. The trouble is, there is no evidence, according to Fallows, that we have even begun doing what it would take. What’s required, in Fallows’ view? First, a long-term commitment, perhaps ten years, at roughly current resource levels. (Let’s see, ten years at $100B each…I’ll call it the “trillion-dollar plan”). Next, top-level commitment to the training strategy; Fallows argues that Rumsfeld and Bush are bored by Iraq much less the tedious work of training. Next, flip the military culture that, for the most part, values combat leadership above training; no evidence that this has happened yet. End one-year rotations; preparing an effective, indigenous counter-insurgency force requires long-term relationships with counterparts and deep local experience; but the Army and Marines are already burned out so longer deployments aren’t in the cards. Get serious about Arabic-language training; no progress to report here, either. Finally, what training is happening is focused on basic combat training, no Iraqi units are being trained to provide logistics, medical support, air support and so on; so we’ll have to do it.
    So, the choice is between a “dishonorable exit” and the “trillion-dollar plan.” No politician wants to endorse either, so the 2006 election will be conducted in a middle ground of meaningless falsehoods. Troop levels will drop a bit before the elections. The point of the entire election exercise will be to give people hope that the politicians they are being asked to vote for (Dem or Rep, left or right, for or against war) know what they are talking about. Meanwhile, our armed forces are stuck in a killing zone, trying to stay alive in an open-ended, undefined commitment. Their job? Postpone retreat until after the next election. Which they should be able to do so long as unit cohesion is maintained.

  20. Curious says:

    Finally, what training is happening is focused on basic combat training, no Iraqi units are being trained to provide logistics, medical support, air support and so on; so we’ll have to do it.
    Posted by: John Howley | 16 November 2005 at 07:01 PM
    like I always suspect. We are trying to create cheap body guard unit for the puppet regime, not an army for Iraq. We are also hoping they make cheap cannon fodder. (hey why train for complicated skill such as logistic and medical when they all gonna get blown up soon?)
    The basic problem? We are not being honest to ourselves and it shows in the policy. The policy is to create weak Iraq/its apparatus for long term occupation, but that clash profoundly with the very idea of what Iraqi notices and wants (not to mention domestic rethorics)
    I wonder how long we can keep this bi-polar view? (We aim to free Iraqis vs. We do white phospor on civilian, We want Iraq to eb independent vs. but gotta rig that election, We are not here forever, but we are building permanent bases and can’t tell how long we’ll stay… etc etc.)
    We are deluding ourselves.
    It is simply not possible to build democracy by killing ever more people with war machine. It just doesn’t work that way.

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