I’m really confused as to what’s going on in the Iraq section of John McCain’s big speech. His rebuttal to the idea that he favors endlessly prolonging a ruinous war is that he hopes things will go much better in the future. This is his vision of the future:
By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension.
No word on whether or not there will be a pony in every garage. I mean, look, presumably when Bush first invaded Iraq he was hoping it would turn out well. When he warned in 2004 that violence would get worse if we left, he was hoping things would get better in 2005. But instead things got worse. Then when he warned in 2005 that if we left there would be civil war, he was presumably hoping that staying would avoid civil war. But it didn’t. McCain’s conceit here is perhaps that our Iraq policy has been failing due to a lack of grandiose dreams and wishful thinking, though as Ilan Goldenberg notes McCain himself has had plenty of wishful thinking over the years.