Beetle in a Box


So John McCain said the surge led to the Anbar Awakening even though the Awakening, in fact, happened before the surge began. So he’s ignorant. Or maybe dishonest. But now we learn he’s also rather stubborn:

McCain asserted he knew that and didn’t commit a gaffe. “A surge is really a counterinsurgency made up of a number of components. … I’m not sure people understand that ‘surge’ is part of a counterinsurgency.”

Shawn Brimley tries to bring common sense to bear on this: “The word “surge” has always been used to as shorthand referring to President Bush’s decision to deploy about 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq in early 2007, the first of which did not arrive in Iraq until later in the spring.” McCain is arguing, I guess, that “the surge” doesn’t refer to the manpower boost more formally termed the “surge of forces” by the military. Instead, “surge” is, perhaps, short for “counterinsurgency.”

The main problems here would be that nobody uses “surge” that way (indeed, John McCain has a long history of using the term “surge” the same way as everyone else) and also that the short form of counterinsurgency the abbreviation-mad military uses is “COIN.” But of course maybe McCain will say that he has a private language in which “surge” means “counterinsurgency” and it’s therefore wrong to bother him about this. In which case, I suppose it’s hard for anyone to ever prove that he’s wrong. But on the other hand if that’s what he means, then it’s hard to make sense of the claim that McCain was “right about the surge” whereas Obama was “wrong” since if “the surge” is just a generic term for the use of counterinsurgency tactics the I don’t think McCain and Obama ever really disagreed.