Speaking to the conservative Young America Foundation at George Washington University last Friday, Karl Rove adamantly defended John McCain’s remark that the U.S. should stay in Iraq for 100 years, claiming that McCain’s been taken out of context:
What Senator McCain was talking about was the projection of American power to maintain stability in a dangerous and difficult part of the world. And he was precise and detailed in his explanation.
The conservative establishment has rallied around a similar interpretation of McCain’s “100 years” remark. In the Washington Post last Friday, Charles Krauthammer called the claim that McCain wants to fight in Iraq for 100 years “a dirty lie.” Krauthammer wrote that Iraq would become, like neighboring Kuwait, a place from which the United States currently “projects power and provides stability for the entire Gulf and for the vulnerable U.S. allies that line its shores.”
In this morning’s New York Times, Bill Kristol praised McCain for choosing “to tell Americans the hard and unpopular truths that we’ll be there [in Iraq] for a while, and that there’s no sacrifice-free path to defeating our enemies and securing a lasting peace.”
National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez suggested that McCain’s remark was “sensible,” and that the attacks indicate that Democrats “don’t get the war we’re in.”
Of course, the opposite is true. It’s Karl Rove who doesn’t get that we weren’t mired in a German civil war five years after the end of World War II. It’s Charles Krauthammer who doesn’t get that Kuwait is not Iraq, and that if we’d spent years bombing their country and kicking down their doors in the middle of the night, the Kuwaitis would want us to leave, just as the Iraqis do. And it’s John McCain who doesn’t get that his neoconservative vision of using Iraq as a base from which to project U.S. power is a fantasy, because he doesn’t get that any Iraqi government that agrees to a hundred-year U.S. presence in Iraq will never be seen as legitimate by the Iraqi people, and thus will require the presence of U.S. forces to ensure its government. But we already know that “that’s fine” with John McCain.
McCain has tried to explain his 100 years remark by saying that “the war will be over soon“:
…Although the insurgency will go on for years and years and years. But it’ll be handled by the Iraqis not by us. And then we decide what kind of security arrangement we want to have with the Iraqis.
It’s unclear, exactly, how McCain differentiates between “the war” and “the insurgency,” or when he thinks the insurgency will end so that the hundred years of peace will begin.