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McCain Declares Victory In Iraq: De-Baathification Law Means ‘We’re Succeeding Politically’

By Satyam Khanna on January 14, 2008 at 7:00 pm

"McCain Declares Victory In Iraq: De-Baathification Law Means ‘We’re Succeeding Politically’"

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mccain446.gifSen. John McCain (R-AZ) repeatedly and misleadingly labels any gains in Iraq as breathtaking victories. As early as November, he said that “we’ve succeeded militarily.” Last week, he declared that “the surge worked.”

After the Iraqi government this weekend passed its new de-Baathification law — which “would allow thousands of former Baathists who were not involved in past crimes against Iraqis to fill posts in the Shiite-dominated government” — McCain added “political reconciliation” to his victory list. At a campaign stop today, McCain said that the new law is evidence that “we’re succeeding politically”:

Now, six months ago, the Democrats were saying we’ve lost the war militarily. [...]

My friends, you would have to suspend disbelief to believe that it’s not. So then they said, after we succeeded militarily, Well, you can’t succeed politically. You’re not moving forward politically. Well, now we’re succeeding politically.

The right wing is now echoing McCain’s victory celebration. The National Review writes: “Yesterday we were losing in Iraq, today we are winning.” The law has “shown us what real political reconciliation looks like.”

The law’s language hardly guarantees true political reconciliation. Juan Cole observed that legislation was actually spearheaded by the most anti-Baathist groups, and opposed by former Baathists:

If the new law was good for ex-Baathists, then the ex-Baathists in parliament will have voted for it and praised it, right? And likely the Sadrists (hard line anti-Baath Shiites) and Kurds would be a little upset.

Instead, parliament’s version of this law was spearheaded by Sadrists, and the ex-Baathists in parliament criticized it.

Additionally, barely 150 members of the 275-seat parliament attended the session. The New York Times also notes that the law may actually end up undermining the U.S. strategy of incorporating Sunnis into security forces, as it may exclude more former Baathists than it lets back in, particularly in security ministries.

The U.S. embassy in Iraq was “notably cautious,” refusing to comment a full day after the legislation was passed.

UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman has more.

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