This month, as violence has dropped a bit in Iraq, military commanders and other Iraq experts have been hesitant to begin declaring victory, saying instead that the “positive” momentum is “not yet irreversible” and Iraq is “going nowhere” in “political terms.”
But Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who traveled to Iraq for the Thanksgiving holiday, have been much less cautious in their public statements and have all but declared victory.
On Sunday, McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “we’ve succeeded militarily” in Iraq. A day later, Lieberman appeared on Fox News, confidently bellowing that “we are winning” because “we have made progress” in “one of the most remarkable turnarounds in modern military history.” Watch it:
There is no denying that in recent months violence has declined in Iraq — weekly attacks have dropped “to the lowest level since January 2006” and “the death toll for American troops” in October fell to “the lowest level since March 2006.” But the situation is still grim. With more than a month left, 2007 is already “the deadliest year of the war for United States troops” yet.
“Unlike US estimates, Iraqi statistics do not show a drop in the level of violence in the Baghdad area.” In the past two days alone, at least 35 “people were killed or found dead” across the country, underlining Iraq’s fragile state and the still ever-present propensity for it to relapse into violence.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the potentially tenuous nature of Iraq’s lull in violence hasn’t stopped perma-hawks like McCain and Lieberman from declaring success. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the two senators have done such a thing in four and a half years of war:
– “Let there be no doubt: victory can be our only exit strategy. We are winning in Iraq.” — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) [11/5/2003]
– “This is a mission accomplished. They know how much influence Saddam Hussein had on the Iraqi people, how much more difficult it made to get their cooperation.” — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) [This Week, ABC, 12/14/03]
– I “can report real progress there… Progress is visible and practical… Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do.” — Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) [11/29/2005]
“The last two weeks have been critically important and I believe may be seen as a turning point in the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism.” — Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) [12/17/2005]
Though McCain likes to tout how sober and serious he is about the war, he’s had difficulty following his own advice. In 2006, he disparaged hasty proclamations like “stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders” as amongst “the biggest mistakes” in prosecuting the war.
As they’ve done time and time again, McCain and Lieberman are rushing to declare “we are winning” in order to blindly support Bush’s policies in Iraq.