McCain On Afghanistan
It's a good sign that Obama cannot win. If he exerts caution, he's an incrementalist, as in Vietnam. If he withdraws, he's flying the white flag of surrender. And so the man who won the election is being goaded by the man who lost it.
This isn't what McCain actually said. McCain is concerned that Obama's incrementalism will make it more difficult to get more troops for Afghanistan in the future, if they are needed. He is trying to avoid the consequences of Vietnam by being clear with the American people regarding the difficulty of the struggle against the Taliban, and the need to expend more blood and treasure.
"Sen. John McCain largely applauded the Obama administration's approach to Afghanistan on Tuesday. But he said that if he had been elected, he would have done a variety of things differently ....
"I would have... went ahead and announced the overall addition of troops," said McCain. ["]Rather than be accused of a Lyndon Johnson style of incrementalism, because it is very clear what General McKiernan asked for even though it may not be right away, I probably would have announced that we intend to do that."
"I support this [Obama's] plan," said McCain. "I probably would have done a few things differently. One, and most importantly, is to emphasize, and the president did, but I think you really have to emphasize how difficult this will be. As with the surge there will be an increase in conflict and therefore an increase in casualties as we move south in Afghanistan and try to reassert control in some regions."
"I think it is more problematic among Democratic leadership," McCain said of the potential for waning support. "We all know that the Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] comes from a very liberal district and we all now that Harry Reid has been very nervous about troop levels in Iraq... I guess what I worry about is that most Americans have not been sufficiently alerted to the [issues we are] going to face there."
In contrast to Dick Cheney's buffonery, McCain's statement is exactly what a loyal opposition is supposed to do. (You do expect the loyal opposition to oppose on occasion, right?) The 4,000 new troops that Obama recently pledged for Afghanistan are a down payment, not a final one. Obama hasn't ruled out sending more troops. McCain's point is that more troops are almost certainly necessary. As Eric Martin will explain at length, Afghanistan is -- how you say? -- hard. McCain proposes sending 40,000 more troops as part of a broad, multi-faceted effort to address US regional concerns (that is to say, US concerns regarding Pakistan). McCain has also set a much larger target for the size of Afghanistan's security forces, an idea that the Obama Administration seems prepared to consider.
Not everything Obama does is a desperate prayer for Karl Marx. Not everything McCain does is a dogwhistle to refight arguments over the Vietnam War. Don't dismiss McCain's point because he's the messenger, or because boomers at the HuffPo play up every boomeriffic angle. Move on, my friend .... you have to move on.