Traveling Back in Time To Justify the Surge

Here’s the bottom line about McCain’s verbal typos: People would not make so much of them if McCain’s statements on foreign policy made sense in a larger, general context. Obama sometimes misstates facts that obviously he knows, out of exhaustion (like “57 states”), but he does not make extended statements or speeches about foreign policy that are substantively and factually wrong.

McCain does do that — a lot:

Here’s John McCain talking to Katie Couric and explaining — but with his facts all wrong — why the Anbar Awakening counts as a consequence of the surge:

Colonel McFarland was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn’t make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.

Spencer Ackerman asks the press corps to recognize that “this is completely fucking wrong” and points to then-Colonel, now-General Sean MacFarland explaining the origins of the awakening to UPI’s Pam Hess on September 29, 2006. That was a bit over a month before the midterm elections. The surge wasn’t announced until after the elections and wasn’t actually implemented until long after MacFarland gave the interview. And presumably the events he was describing happened before the interview itself.

This specific timing issue aside, we can see here the larger point that McCain doesn’t actually seem to know what the surge was. But the surge troops were overwhelmingly sent to increase the level of manpower in Baghdad (i.e., not where the Anbar Awakening happened) and almost certainly (along with a tactical shift to more of a population protection mission) deserves credit for reducing the bloodshed in Baghdad by stabilizing the borders between now-segregated neighborhoods. I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that it had nothing to do what happened in Anbar, but it wasn’t a major factor, and certainly didn’t make anything happen in September 2006. …

I would add that it’s pretty damned insulting to Iraqis that John McCain is unwilling to give them any credit for any changes in Iraq that might be positive or encouraging. It’s all part of the war-supporting right’s infantilization of the Iraqi people. It facilitates the argument that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq to “assist” and “protect” Iraqis from each other. It’s patronizing as hell, and it infuriates me.

2 Responses to “Traveling Back in Time To Justify the Surge”

  1. Chief says:

    The Iraqis are just little children that need our protection and wisdom. They obviously are not as civilized as we westerners are.

  2. Bryan says:

    Ackerman is whack. Review the question that McCain was asked. Anbar province was the testing ground of the COIN strategy that the surge, according to plan, would institute throughout Iraq. And there isn’t any “infantilization” of the Iraqis in McCain’s remarks. It’s simply true that the insurgents had more firepower than the wakening Sunnis.
    Because the awakening in Anbar both preceded and progressed during the “surge” it is natural that ambiguities will occur in discussing the latter. Normal charitable interpretation should resolve such issues. Where it doesn’t, there’s something to talk about, but Ackerman provides no evidence to suppose he performed the first step adequately.


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