John McCain says that “anyone who worries about how long we’re in Iraq does not understand the military.” On the contrary, it seems to me that McCain doesn’t understand diplomacy, Iraq, foreign policy, strategy, the concept of limited resources, or just about anything else. In the short-term, the McCain plan for open-ended warfare in Iraq costs lives, money, and carries enormous political costs and opportunity costs in terms of what the United States can do around the world. In the long-term, McCainite visions for a perpetual US military presence in Iraq fuel skepticism of US motives in that country and are a key driving force behind anti-American violence.
McCain even goes so far as to directly compare his vision of Iraq to the current situation in Kuwait, where in exchange for basing rights and oil we help prop up an unaccountable and corrupt dictatorship. Fear that this is what we’re aiming for in Iraq is precisely why many Iraqis are fighting so hard against our troops, and our habit of acting this way in other Gulf states is a major driving force of anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world. The Bush administration has at least had the good sense to pursue this agenda quietly and in secret, but hot-head McCain can’t keep his mouth shut to avoid gaffes and can’t stop digging now that he realizes he’s in a hole.