McCain Explains “100 Years in Iraq” Comments

Last night on Larry King Live, Senator McCain explained and defended the comments he made during a New Hampshire town hall meeting on January 3 about staying in Iraq for 100 years.  He explained to Larry that he had been talking about a 50 or 100 year military presence in Iraq similar to what the U.S. has in place since World War II and the Korea War in Germany, Japan, and Korea.  He expressed the opinion that what Americans care about is American casualties rather than how long the troops are actually there.  He added, “It’s not a matter of how long we’re in Iraq, it’s if we succeed or not.”

I want to give Senator McCain fair credit on this point.  I went back and checked what he actually had said in New Hampshire on YouTube.  I’ve even included the clip below.  He quite clearly indicated in his original comments that maintaining a presence for 50 or 100 years would be fine with him if American troops were not being injured and killed.

So, I think Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should stop attacking him on this point, or at least stop conveying the impression that McCain is willing to see American casualties continue for 100 years.  It would be more honest if the Democratic candidates argued that they don’t believe McCain’s scenario of a long-term peaceful military presence in Iraq is really feasible and that setting timetables to pull out our troops sooner will pressure Iraq to make political compromises and take responsibility for their own country.

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2 Responses to “McCain Explains “100 Years in Iraq” Comments”

  1. Jim Cusick Says:

    Roger,

    Good point and I would prefer a real debate on the issue of what involvement should our government have in International Affairs.

    We are definitely involved (NATO, UN) and also have strategic and economic interest in what is going on in the world. I don’t see how we can be isolationists again (Ron Paul) and I understand people not wanting us to utilize our military as part of foreign policy.

    Since we have used our military, we need to support the Troops and their Mission until it is complete, in my opinion. I do not see how we can unilaterally withdraw without a power vacuum developing that would quickly escalate into another hot war that we would most likely be called upon to stop, or the genocide of a people. I am not asking for anyone to agree with me, but I am interested in understanding the options available to allow us to remove the majority of our forces from Iraq and leave an on-going mission similar to Japan, Korea, Germany, etc.

    I believe we all want the best for America and hope that with the elections this year, we can come together and move forward as the beacon of freedom for the world.

    Cheers, Jim

  2. rberlind Says:

    I agree with you, Jim, that we should not become isolationists. I also think it makes sense to use our military abroad when doing so either does really benefit our national security or accomplishes other goals like providing humanitarian relief. I think Afghanistan is an example where it does make sense,to use our troops but think it did not make sense in Iraq. However, I do agree that we should not simply pull all our troops out of Iraq without carefully considering the consequences. That being said, I do think that setting a 1 year timetable for withdrawal could put useful pressure on the competing factions in Iraq to resolve their differences politically and take the steps necessary to make their own armed forces capable of defending their own country both against terrorists and Iran.

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