Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) does not want the U.S. military to leave Iraq. The Arizona senator feels so strongly about this position that he found it necessary to publicly disparage President Obama’s top military adviser today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
McCain apparently did not appreciate that Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey defended the president’s decision to order all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. When Dempsey — who reportedly opposed the 2007 surge in Iraq — credited the troop increase for bringing down violence, McCain thought he saw an opening to attack the chairman’s credibility:
MCCAIN: Since you brought up regrettably Gen. Dempsey 2003 and 2004. The fact is that you did not support the surge and said that it would fail. Secretary Panetta was part of the Iraq Study Group that recommended withdrawals from Iraq and opposed the surge and so we’re all responsible for the judgments that we make and obviously that affects the credibility of the judgments that we make now on Iraq. I regret that you have to bring that up Gen. Dempsey.
It’s unclear whether the influx of U.S. troops was the key catalyst that tipped the scales in Iraq, as the so-called Sunni “Awakening” had begun to ferment months before President Bush made the decision to send more troop. So whether Dempsey was right or wrong about opposing sending more troops to Iran in 2007 is difficult to prove.
But by his own measure — one’s past statements on Iraq effect the credibility of current ones — McCain’s authority on the Iraq issue is quite limited, if even non-existent. Here’s a run down of some of McCain’s greatest hits:
— “I believe that [the war in Iraq] will not be nearly as difficult as some allege.” [NBC, 9/22/02]
— “I think most Iraqis would greet the removal of Saddam Hussein with relief and pleasure.” [CNN, 9/24/02]
— “The Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” [NBC, 3/20/03]
— “There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shiahs. So I think they can probably get along.” [MSNBC, 4/23/03]
— In April 2003, McCain said “It’s clear that the end is very much in sight.” Eight months later he declared victory, “This is a mission accomplished.”
— In April, 2003, McCain said “we’ve got to de-Baathize Iraq.” Yet 4 years later he hoped the Iraqis would “pass a reverse de-Baathification law.”
— Iraq is “a peaceful and stable country now.” 8/28/08
The the list of McCain’s false predictions and bad judgment on Iraq is extensive. In taking his own advice, perhaps McCain would realize he is not the most credible voice on American policy in Iraq.