Earlier this month, law professor Marjorie Cohn and Iraq Veterans Against the War board chairman Geoff Millard attended a reception to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam and spoke with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). When Millard introduced himself to the Arizona senator, Cohn reports that McCain dismissed the relevance of Millard’s organization:
When Geoff introduced himself as chairman of the board of Iraq Veterans against the War, McCain retorted, “You’re too late. We already won that one.”
McCain is now the second U.S. official to declare “mission accomplished” in a war that continues to ravage the people and land of Iraq.
From the run-up to the war through to his 2008 presidential campaign and up to now, McCain has regularly displayed a lack of understanding and shear incompetence about the war he fought so hard to start and continues to defend. Despite the misgivings of his “hero” Gen. David Petraeus, McCain has been quick to declare “victory” in Iraq or say the U.S is “succeeding” or “winning” the war. Just last March, McCain claimed there had not been “a single” American casualty in Iraq in the three months prior despite the fact that 12 U.S. servicemembers had died there and and least 93 wounded.
And in case McCain hasn’t checked, there’s still a war going on in Iraq. Last month, 216 Iraqi civilians died in attacks across the country. And just weeks prior to McCain’s most recent statement, two Americans were killed in an IED attack in Diyala, Iraq and just six days after his comment, 1st Lt. Michael Runyan was killed by an IED. One wonders whether the families of these U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians would consider the war there to be over.
But regardless of the level of violence in Iraq and even long after every last American servicemember withdraws, declaring the debacle that is President Bush’s war in Iraq can never be considered a “victory.” Juan Cole noted last month:
[I]t would be a huge mistake to see Iraq either as a success story or as stable. It is the scene of an ongoing civil war between Sunnis and Shiites that is killing roughly 300 civilians a month. It can’t form a government months after the March 7 elections. … The political vacuum has proved an opening for Sunni Arab insurgents, who have mounted effective bombing campaigns and more recently are targeting the banks.
“Let’s understand,” the Wonk Room’s Matt Duss has written, “there is no plausible scenario in which the decision to invade Iraq can or will ever be vindicated. In the best case, we will have simply averted disaster.”