Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has recently engaged in a frantic effort to “put the toothpaste back in the tube” regarding his notorious 100 years remark on the Iraq war. McCain says that since the U.S. has left troops in South Korea, for example, a prolonged presence in Iraq is also justified.
Yesterday on Fox News, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) went even further than McCain, claiming that the U.S. leaves troops behind to “secure the peace” in “every conflict”:
But the fact is we’re going to need, as we have after every conflict we’ve been in — World War II, Korea, etc., we’re going want to leave troops there to secure the peace that our soldiers have won. It’s clear that’s what he meant.
“Anybody who says that John McCain is for a 100 year war in Iraq is either not informed or intentionally trying to mislead the public,” Lieberman added. In reality, it seems Lieberman is the one who is “not informed.” The U.S. does not maintain a strong contingent of troops in “every conflict,” as history has shown:
— Vietnam: After President Nixon announced a phased withdrawal, the “last U.S. combat troops” withdrew in August 1972. “The last remaining American troops withdrew” by 1973. In April 1975, “the last Americans, ten Marines from the embassy, depart Saigon, concluding the United States presence in Vietnam.”
— Somalia: “All UN and U.S. personnel were finally withdrawn…in March 1995.”
McCain claims his remarks are being distorted, but he has repeatedly supported a heavy U.S. presence, for example, even supporting permanent bases in Iraq. Andrew Bacevich of Boston University explains that McCain’s scenario would likely entail a combat-heavy engagement for U.S. troops:
“In Iraq, it’s not even clear there is a nation-state, and there’s little evidence there is an effective Iraqi government,” he said. “That tends to suggest a long-term presence in Iraq will not be a peacekeeping one but one in which we’re engaged in a very, very long, ugly unconventional war.“
Today’s Progress Report asks: when does McCain’s 100 years without casualties start?