McCain’s Maximalism

It’s striking the extent to which John McCain remains an advocate of a wildly unrealistic, maximalist vision of the mission in Iraq. He says that not just some modest improvements are possible if we stick around, but that a “peaceful, stable, democratic Iraq is within reach” and that it will become “a force for stability and freedom.”

Meanwhile, he’s saying all kinds of crazy stuff. For some reason he thinks that if we leave that would “almost certainly require us to return to Iraq or draw us into a wider war.” He’s also now claiming he doesn’t want our troops to stay in Iraq for a minute longer than is necessary, when the Bush administration is already moving toward a permanent presence — a goal he’s specifically endorsed in the past. McCain said the Maliki government is moving to disarm all militias, which isn’t true. And he keeps portraying backing Maliki as some kind of anti-Iranian measure when there’s just no reason to see it that way.

Obviously, though, since McCain’s a straight-talker, he should be allowed to get away with a fundamentally dishonest presentation of the issues.