What John McCain Still Doesn’t Get About Iraq

In tonight’s debate, Sen. John McCain repeatedly asserted that his opponent “doesn’t understand” Iraq or national security. McCain demonstrated, however, that it is he who doesn’t understand the consequences that that the Iraq war has wrought for America’s national security.

– McCain said that withdrawing from Iraq would “increase Iranian influence.” In fact, it is the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that has resulted in increased Iranian influence, not only in Iraq, but in the region.

– McCain correctly identified the resurgence in Russian power as driven by increased oil wealth, but avoided mentioning that Russia’s huge oil revenues, as well as Iran’s, are to a significant extent a result of the destabilization resulting from the Iraq war. According to a leading oil economist, the Iraq war “tripled the price of oil…costing the world a staggering $6 trillion in higher energy prices alone”:

Dr Mamdouh Salameh, who advises both the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), told The Independent…that the price of oil would now be no more than $40 a barrel, less than a third of the record $135 a barrel reached last week, if it had not been for the Iraq war.

– McCain decried the fact that U.S. taxpayers are “sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don’t like us very much,” but continues to support sending $10-12 billion a month to a country, Iraq, whose people want our military to withdraw. As i wrote in July, “a strong political consensus exists among Iraqis in favour of a US commitment to withdraw its forces from their country”:

President Bush and John McCain have consistently tried to ignore this reality, each insisting that a US withdrawal would be contingent upon “conditions on the ground”, and not on “artificial timetables”. But there’s nothing artificial about Iraqis’ revulsion at the continuing presence of foreign troops in their homeland, and the political expression of this revulsion represents an important condition on the ground.

A condition on the ground that McCain consistently chooses to ignore.