On NBC’s Meet the Press this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for immediately adding more U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq. Echoing the failed strategy behind the escalation during the Vietnam War, McCain suggested that putting more troops in the middle of Iraq’s civil war would help the U.S. to ultimately prevail. Watch it:
As former administration officials and military generals have noted, a larger initial force was necessary to provide security on the ground and prevent the growth of the insurgency. But at this point in the conflict, a larger force is operationally impracticable. Slate’s Fred Kaplan wrote last year that the Army could maintain its current troop levels in Iraq, but it doesn’t have the capacity to “allow George W. Bush to send more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan” unless we institute a draft.
Beyond the practical unfeasibility of sending in more troops, McCain misdiagnoses what adding more troops at this point would do to the situation on the ground. As the Center for American Progress’s Iraq redeployment strategy argues:
A more visible presence of U.S. troops risks further stoking the flames of the insurgency by feeding perceptions of long-term U.S. occupation among many Iraqis.Full transcript below:
MCCAIN: The question is, are we going to be able to bring the situation under control now? I still believe we can. I think part of it has to do with the Madhi army and Sadr. Sadr has got to be taken out of this equation and his militia has got to be addressed forcefully.
GREGORY: But to do that, do you need more U.S. soldiers on the ground now?
MCCAIN: I think so. I think so. We took troops from places like Ramadi, which are still not under control and put them into Baghdad. We’ve had to send in additional troops as they are. All along, we have not had enough troops on the ground to control the situation. Many, many people knew that, and it’s — we’re paying a very heavy price for it.