"McCain: Afghanistan’s Troubles Are Unrelated To ‘Our Diversion To Iraq’"
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on ABC’s The View this morning. He discussed his “mistake” of opposing a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and said, “If we are wrong on a position, we then should admit it.” But when Joy Behar asked whether he would admit that the Iraq invasion was a mistake, McCain answered flatly, “No”:
BEHAR: Do you admit now that it was a mistake to go into Iraq?
MCCAIN: No. … The problem was not the fact that we went in, to be honest with you. The problem was the mishandling of it for nearly four years. If we had done the right thing from the beginning –
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: We would have been in Afghanistan.
MCCAIN: But Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.
BARBARA WALERS: Why do people think it is, that we don’t have the troops there that we need?
MCCAIN: I know a lot of people think that and we do need more troops there.
In fact, the U.S. commitment to Iraq has continually drained resources from the fight in Afghanistan. Appearing on PBS’ Newshour in January, former CentCom Commander William Fallon pointed to Iraq to explain the resurgence of the Taliban in 2007 — the deadliest year for U.S. soldiers there:
Well, back in 2001, early 2002, the Taliban were pretty much vanquished. And I wasn’t over there during the intervening years. But my sense of looking back is that we moved focus to Iraq, which was the priority from 2003 on, and the attention and the resources focused on a different place. There’s been some resurgence in the Taliban. This is a country — Afghanistan needs a lot of work in the business of rebuilding itself.
The strain on the troops created by the war in Iraq has clearly left fewer resources for the fight in Afghanistan. Last week, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody insisted that the “Army is out of balance” and that the “current demand for our forces… exceeds the sustainable supply.”
Before leaving, McCain assured the women of The View that, as president, he would “get” Osama bin Laden “and bring him to justice.” Apparently McCain is overlooking the fact that the reason bin Laden is still on the loose is because the fight in Iraq diverted attention from perusing the terrorist leader in Afghanistan.
With the bulk of our ground forces deployed to Iraq, we’ve been unable to prepare for or deploy for other contingencies in other places. We are not training to full spectrum capabilities. We are not engaging sufficiently with partner militaries. And we cannot now meet extra force requirements in places like Afghanistan.