In late 2002 and early 2003, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was a fixture on cable television, assuring Americans that an invasion of Iraq would be “easy.” “I believe that the success will be fairly easy,” McCain told CNN in September 2002. “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily,” he told MSNBC the following January.
Over the years, McCain has often claimed that he never made rosy predictions, saying in 2006 that he “fully understood from the beginning” that Iraq “would be a very, very difficult undertaking.” In January 2007, however, he wasn’t sure what he believed. First, he said that he knew it was “going to be long and hard and tough,” but six days later he claimed, “I said the military operation would be easy. It was easy.”
On Larry King Live last night, when asked about the decision to invade, McCain went back to saying that he predicted America would have “an easy victory” and that “we did”:
MCCAIN: I think we did the right thing. I think that it was a colossal intelligence failure on the part of the United States and every other county as to whether he had them or not. But again, I would remind you, I said we would have an easy victory. We did.
Just as he can’t figure out his current position on timetables, McCain can’t keep his rhetoric straight on whether he’s a cheerleader or critic of the Iraq war. As Matt Duss points out in the Wonk Room, McCain believes it’s “a job for the historians” to figure out if invading Iraq was a good decision.
With his haphazard declaration that the initial invasion was “an easy victory” and his refusal to reconsider the decision to invade, McCain ignores the numerous disastrous consequences of that invasion, including over 4,000 U.S. soldiers killed and over 30,000 wounded.
KING: If this would go back, start all over again, would you go into Iraq if you could go back?
MCCAIN: I think the world is better off knowing what I know at the time and the fact that Saddam Hussein was bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction, $12 billion Oil for Food scandal. American airplanes were being shot at. Sanctions were breaking down. It’s clear that he wanted to go back and acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them. I don’t think there is any doubt. I think we did the right thing. I think that it was a colossal intelligence failure on the part of the United States and every other county as to whether he had them or not. But again, I would remind you, I said we would have an easy victory. We did.
And then we employed the wrong strategy which doomed us to failure and we were losing this war when I said we had to have this new strategy all along and stoop up for it when most political pundits said that my career was finished.