Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) delivered a speech on Afghanistan at the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. TP Wonk Room’s Matt Duss attended the event and asked McCain this question:
In November 2003, in discussing Afghanistan, you said that given everything else that was going on, we’d probably just “muddle through” in Afghanistan. Now given the rather ambitious set of goals that you’ve set out for us today, it seems that you’ve come to a conclusion that muddling through is not an acceptable outcome. Could you just briefly describe the kind of process in your thinking by which you arrived at this conclusion?
McCain disputed the premise of the question, claiming: “Well, obviously you are taking that statement out of context.” Watch it:
Duss responds on The Wonk Room with the video of McCain’s original statement in 2003:
MCCAIN: I am concerned about it, but I’m not as concerned as I am about Iraq today — obviously, or I’d be talking about Afghanistan — but I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making, that in the long term we may muddle through in Afghanistan.
McCain’s new position is that the Afghanistan war is necessary. “I know Americans are weary of war,” he said yesterday. “I’m weary of it. But we must win the war in Afghanistan.”
The larger issue, of course, is that McCain — like the Bush administration — was so feverishly eager to go to war with Iraq after 9/11 that he largely neglected the issue of Afghanistan. Indeed, ABC News reported last year that, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain missed every single hearing on Afghanistan over the past two years.