Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he “will be glad to stake my campaign on the fact that [the surge] has succeeded,” effectively shackling himself to President Bush’s Iraq policy. Previously, McCain has insisted that the level of American casualties is the “key” metric by which to measure to the surge’s success:
The surge is succeeding and the key to it is not American presence, it’s American casualties and by any measure, we are succeeding and the political process is succeeding.
On ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopolous today, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) bluntly disagreed with McCain’s assessment of the surge’s success, saying it’s wrong to “dismiss” over “900 dead Americans since the surge” began as “success”:
We have lost over 900 dead Americans since the surge. Now if you want to dismiss that as ‘success’ that would be your interpretation.
McCain frequently dismisses questions about his claim that he wouldn’t mind if U.S. troops were in Iraq for “a hundred years” by insisting that “the point is American casualties.” Yet, as Hagel points out, in repeatedly insisting that the surge is a success, McCain downplays the fact that American soldiers are still dying in Iraq on a regular basis.
As of today, the Pentagon has confirmed the deaths of 3,991 U.S. soldiers in Iraq since the start of the war. Four more reported casualties are awaiting confirmation.