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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Op-Ed That The NY Times Would Not Print

By Sen. John McCain

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80 percent to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City — actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war — only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

27 Comments:

Blogger John said...

Every right-wing/anti-left blogger should devote a post to this letter. Spread the word.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or, on the other hand, we could be honest about it and admit the truth:

New York Times To McCain: Cut The Crap
By Greg Sargent - July 21, 2008, 4:03PM
The New York Times has just responded to the accusation lobbed today by the McCain campaign that the paper was displaying bias against the Republican candidate by asking him to rewrite an Op-ed about Iraq because it didn't meet the paper's standards for publication.

Times spokesperson Catherine Mathis sends over this...

It is standard procedure on our Op-Ed page, and that of other newspapers, to go back and forth with an author on his or her submission. We look forward to publishing Senator McCain's views in our paper just as we have in the past. We have published at least seven Op-Ed pieces by Senator McCain since 1996. The New York Times endorsed Senator McCain as the Republican candidate in the presidential primaries. We take his views very seriously.
The McCain camp had charged that the rejection proved that the paper was unreceptive to his views on the war. But the paper's Opinion Page Editor, David Shipley, had emailed the campaign with a specific objection: He wanted not just an attack on Obama, but a detailed explanation of McCain's plan, including (gasp!) a definition of what constitutes "victory."

If you take a look at McCain's original Op ed submission, you can see that it's little more than a broadside aimed at Obama's Iraq plan combined with the de rigeur hailing of McCain's own prescience on the surge.

2:50 PM  
Blogger FJ said...

Done.

I noticed that Obama gave credit to the Iraqi's today for the surge. What a maroon. LOL!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Alice Gorable said...

Ditto!

2:57 PM  
Blogger John said...

Anon:

You know damn well that they'd print anything Barack wants to print.

Secondly, for the paper to impose guidelines on content to a presidential candidate is condescending.

Thirdly, this speaks for itself:

"We look forward to publishing Senator McCain's views in our paper just as we have in the past. We have published at least seven Op-Ed pieces by Senator McCain since 1996. The New York Times endorsed Senator McCain as the Republican candidate in the presidential primaries. We take his views very seriously."

And all it says is that they wanted Bush to lose in the 2000 primaries.

To imply that their endorsement would have remained intact shouldMcCain have won and faced-off with Gore is insulting to the intelligence.

They've rolled out the red carpet to the gala for Barack while making McCain pay a cover-charge at the door and that's that.

Mathis was making excuses for the paper she works for. Honesty and admitting the truth would've gotten her fired.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, when you take a look at the McCain piece, you have to admit that, as someone said, the Times saved John McCain from making a fool of himself in public yet again for the third or fourth time recently.

Anyone who seriously thinks they would not publish a thoughtful piece by McCain which was not just a wild eyed campaign blurb is enjoying being a false victim just a little too much.

Frankly, it's looking very much like that perverse pleasure is about all the right has to look forward to for quite a long time.

5:45 PM  
Blogger berty said...

It's just a shame that no one's looking out after you and keeping you from continuing to make a fool out of yourself in public, anon.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one of his moronic, know-nothing gaffes...something he's becoming know for:

"Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, "Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress." Even more heartening has been progress that's not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City--actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism."

Wow. That's a mouthful of nonsense to parse. It's not the U.S. Embassy in Iraq who's made such a claim, it's "Surge" architect and editorial-page-welfare recipient Fred Kagan who's contended that the Iraq has had benchmark success. This is a claim that CNN Reporter Michael Ware has already debunked. In truth, on benchmarks, it would be more accurate to say McCain has it precisely backwards.

8:36 PM  
Blogger John said...

"It's not the U.S. Embassy in Iraq who's made such a claim, it's "Surge" architect and editorial-page-welfare recipient Fred Kagan who's contended that the Iraq has had benchmark success. This is a claim that CNN Reporter Michael Ware has already debunked."

You mockingly put surge in quotes, as in "so-called Surge," betraying your position off the bat.

True to form, you disqualify the "architect" and editoral-writer Fred Kagan by belittling him as a "welfare recipient" to set him up as a worthless stooge who is easily discredited by that pillar of integrity and objective journalistic excellence, Michael Ware. A reporter. For CNN.

Wow. That settles it. A CNN reporter is much better qualified to asses the situation than a prominent resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, with a B.A. in Soviet and East European studies and a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet military history, both from Yale University. He also worked as an Assistant Professor of military history at West Point from 1995-2001 and as an Associate professor of military history from 2001-2005, teaching courses on the history of military art, grand strategy, revolutionary warfare and diplomatic history.

But he's really just a "welfare recipient."

Get over it, bozo. Kagan's a genius and the surge worked. Even Obama admits it.

4:16 AM  
Blogger John said...

Go slither back to Kos. Dismissed.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Alice Gorable said...

So, does Obama STILL get the Nobel Peace Prize even after he loses this November?

6:55 AM  
Blogger John said...

Of course, especially after he loses in November. The Nobel has become a compensatory consolation prize for losing Democratic candidates for president.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Alice Gorable said...

...and on the third day he boarded his jet and rose again, ascending unto the heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of Blair and Gordon, from on high he shall judge the just and the fair...

6:27 AM  
Blogger John said...

Then he decided to insult the troops by having a "work-out" instead of visiting the hospitalized casualties because he couldn't bring his press-corp with him (so why bother?).

3:07 PM  
Blogger FJ said...

He was afraid his trip might be 'politicized'. LOL!

6:20 PM  
Blogger John said...

That was one of several excuses he tried out.

8:08 PM  
Blogger FJ said...

Rassmussen shows the gaps already closed again. Gotta watch those 3-day moving averages.

But think of it this way, next week you can look at a 7 day moving average and then tell us it's widenning again in Obama's favor. LOL!

8:57 AM  
Blogger berty said...

Yep. A church gets attacked but a Christian hating nutjob, and the Left tries to play victim by claiming it was a liberal church.

Pathetic.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Alice, you are hilarious!

4:29 PM  
Blogger John said...

fj:

After all the pageantry and publicity from Barack's trip abroad, he's still failing to go over 50%.

Barack's itty-bitty lead today (in some polls) is not due to any surge of his own, but because Mac's declined.

Historically, Barack's in bad shape:

In 1976, Carter was enjoying a 30+ point lead over Ford, but it ended up neck-and-neck.

In 1988, Dukakis was ahead of Bush 41 by 17 points after the nomination but would soundly lose the election.

W. Bush was trailing Gore and Kerry in '00 and '04.

berty: Don't waste your time. This troll is mentally ill.

4:39 PM  
Blogger John said...

And really dumb, too.

7:33 PM  
Blogger FJ said...

There may be a "groundswell" for change in this country, but voters have realized that if change means Obama, Pelosi and Reid, they'd rather vote McCain...

3:40 PM  
Blogger John said...

Let's hope so.

6:56 AM  
Blogger berty said...

Your troll needs to get out his 7-day moving average now...

2:59 PM  
Blogger John said...

The pest has cried uncle.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

My position of Bush's decision to invade and keep Iraq has not varied from day one. My thought is that he had better be right. History will either justify him or it will not justify him, and I do not feel that I am in a place to make a final decision on that.

I think that McCain is not the best choice, but I sure as hell do not think that Obama is any kind of improvement. For me, the coming election really has little to do with international politics, even as important as they are to me and to mine.

Seriously, I cannot support Obama because he is a socialist, and a hard left socialist at that. The harm that he plans to our economy is reason enough, war or no war.

That being said, we, as a country, are going to have to seriously think about our priorities when it comes to who we are going to fight and when.

10:28 PM  
Blogger John said...

Just fight the revenge of the Sith here, for now.

11:57 PM  

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