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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Think You Know John McCain?

He isn’t concerned about troop levels

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Last week, on The Today Show, John McCain was asked: Assuming the surge is working, do you have a better estimate of when our troops can come home? The presumptive Republican presidential nominee responded, “No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq.”

Since making this statement, McCain has come under considerable fire from Democrats, both for being so cavalier with our men and women in uniform and for being out of touch with their plight. For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “McCain’s statement today that withdrawing troops doesn’t matter is a crystal-clear indicator that he just doesn’t get the grave national-security consequences of staying the course.”

What is so troubling is not what McCain said in this particular instance but what he has been saying throughout the campaign season. What John McCain said, while phrased poorly, is nothing new. He has been saying that the United States will have a presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future, something akin to security arrangements in South Korea and Japan.

But Iraq isn’t South Korea or Japan, and an American military presence in Iraq may be making the political and security issues there even worse. Negotiations for a new “status of forces” agreement between the United States and Iraq are hung up in part on American demands for 58 permanent bases in Iraq. The Iraqi government has rejected this proposal.

In addition, McCain is overlooking the considerable domestic resistance to the Iraq war—an April poll shows that 69% Americans say that things are going poorly in Iraq—as well as a February ABC News poll showing that 73% of Iraqis oppose the presence of U.S. troops on Iraqi soil.

McCain’s plans, as he has stated on several occasions, to keep troops in Iraq for decades or even a century—in combat in peacetime—seem to be the exact opposite of what Americans and Iraqis want.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.

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