The McCain campaign has been showing signs of life, as Moe deftly points out. There is one issue that we know motivates McCain enough to go on the offensive, and that is national security in general and the war in Iraq in particular. Barack Obama is set to travel to Iraq to view firsthand the success of the troop surge strategy that he opposed. And the McCain campaign isn't about to let him try to share in the credit.
The campaign released a statement yesterday, reacting to the news that the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government have come to an agreement on a "general time horizon" for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. To some on the left, the announcement is vindication for Obama's plan to remove troops from Iraq quickly. For some on the right, the announcement pulls the rug out from under John McCain, who has steadfastly argued that the duration of the U.S. troop presence should be determined by conditions, not politics. Both are evidence of shallow thinking.
Rather than a defeat for McCain, and evidence of the prescience of the Senator from H.O.P.E.™, the announcement is a vindication of McCain's call for a surge of troops to begin with. It is evidence of the correctness of Republican and Administration policies on the war and should be celebrated as such. It also shows the dangerous irony of Obama's and liberals' timidity on matters of war. In their zeal to end hostilities and prevent casualties, Democratic policies lead to longer wars and more bloodshed.
McCain's statement hits all those themes and more.
"Progress between the United States and Iraq on a time horizon for American troop presence is further evidence that the surge has succeeded. Most of the U.S. forces used in the surge have already been withdrawn. When a further conditions-based withdrawal of U.S. forces is possible, it will be because we and our Iraqi partners built on the successes of the surge strategy, which Senator Obama opposed, predicted would fail, voted against and campaigned against in the primary. When we withdraw, we will withdraw with honor and victory. An honorable and victorious withdrawal would not be possible if Senator Obama's views had prevailed. An artificial timetable based on political expediency would have led to disaster and could still turn success into defeat. If we had followed Senator Obama's policy, Iraq would have descended into chaos, American casualties would be far higher, and the region would be destabilized." [emphasis mine]
The whole point of the Iraq War was to stand up a functioning democracy in the heart of the Middle East. The point of the surge was to bring down violence so that the Iraqi government could grow. That it has done so and is looking for the earliest possible date for U.S. withdrawal is the plan working as it was intended. It is not evidence of some kind of defeat for the Administration or McCain. Nor is it a chance for Obama to jump on the bandwagon of the strategy that he didn't have the judgment to recognize would succeed. McCain is correct to hail this development as a defeat for Obama, who sided with those who said Iraq was a hopeless disaster 18 months ago.
Good for Sen. McCain for issuing this statement. Now let's see it on television.
Cross posted at Mark on the Right.