At a townhall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire on Jan. 3, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) infamously exclaimed that it “would be fine with” him if the U.S. military stayed in Iraq for “a hundred years.“ McCain clarified his comments, saying “as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That’s fine with me.” Watch it:
This past weekend, the Democratic National Committee released an ad featuring McCain saying, “[M]aybe a hundred. That’d be fine with me,” accompanied by images of the war in Iraq.
Yesterday, FactCheck.org weighed in on the ad, complaining that even though the ad simply uses McCain’s own words, it “doesn’t mention that McCain was speaking specifically about a peacetime presence” and leaves “a clear impression that McCain proposes to allow a century more of war.”
FactCheck.org is claiming that any mention of McCain’s “100 years” cannot be associated with war fighting, but McCain’s peaceful fantasy is necessitated on continuing to fight in Iraq until his unlikely scenario somehow takes shape.
In its rush to defend McCain, FactCheck.org never grapples with the unanswered questions underlying the premise of McCain’s wishful thinking about an essentially permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq that is “peaceful”:
How do we transition out of a wartime presence? How long is McCain willing to wait for that presence to be possible? Is there a point in time that he will consider leaving Iraq if casualties continue?
Here are a few examples of why McCain’s scenario is so impracticable:
- The Iraqi people do not want permanent U.S. bases in Iraq. In Oct. 2007, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak “put the U.S. on notice,” telling Vice President Cheney that “The people of Iraq, the parliament, the council of representatives and the government of Iraq, they all say no, big fat no, N-O for the bases in Iraq.”
- If Iraq were to host U.S. bases, some factions in Iraq will always “resent their mere presence for the blame that they cast upon America,” according to CNN’s Baghdad correspondent, Michael Ware. Ware also says that a long-term presence in Iraq “could actually ferment further resentment” against the U.S.
- In the past, even McCain has said that a peaceful “South Korea” like presence is not feasible because of “the nature of the society in Iraq and the religious aspects.”
As the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg — who was at the townhall in New Hampshire — says, “the context shows…that yanking that sound bite out of context isn’t really all that unfair” because McCain is essentially saying that he is willing to stay in Iraq indefinitely until casualties stop and then he’s willing to stay for 100 more years.