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McCain Repeatedly Declared U.S. Prevailed in Afghanistan 10 Years Ago

May 29, 2014

Turning to John McCain for answers on national security issues is a lot like asking a dog why it licks its ass: you get the same answer every time. But with its silence the dog does no harm. In contrast, John McCain, with his never-ending demands to deploy more American troops regardless of situation or circumstance, has been dangerously wrong on almost every question of U.S. national defense in the 21st century. The war in Afghanistan is no exception to that rule.
On Tuesday, Senator McCain along with his Mini-Me's Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) reacted with outrage to President Obama's proposal for a phased drawdown from Afghanistan.

"The President's decision to set an arbitrary date for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is a monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy. This is a short-sighted decision that will make it harder to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly."

That's a pretty stunning statement for John McCain of all people to make. After all, McCain repeatedly declared the United States had already prevailed in Afghanistan 10 years ago.
As ThinkProgress helpfully recalled, John McCain suffered from repeated bouts of premature emancipation starting in the spring of 2003:

"Nobody in Afghanistan threatens the United States of America." [Hannity & Colmes, 4/10/03]
"The facts on the ground are we went to Afghanistan and we prevailed there." [Wolf Blitzer Reports, 4/1/04]
"Could I add, it was in Afghanistan, as well, there were many people who predicted that Afghanistan would not be a success. So far, it's a remarkable success." [CNN, 3/2/05]
"Afghanistan, we don't read about anymore, because it's succeeded." [Charlie Rose Show, 10/31/05]

Criticizing Obama now because "the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, should be determined by conditions on the ground, not by the President's concern for his legacy," McCain had no problem at all when the President was George W. Bush shifted America's focus to Saddam Hussein in 2003. As the Maverick explained in November 2003, diverting troops, equipment and intelligence assets to Iraq did not pose a threat to the fight against Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies:

"I think Afghanistan is dicey...but I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making, that in the long term we may muddle through in Afghanistan."

McCain, of course, was wrong when he declared in April 2008 that "Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq". That July, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen declared as much:

"I don't have troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach, to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq. Afghanistan has been and remains an economy-of-force campaign, which by definition means we need more forces there."

Meanwhile, candidate Barack Obama wasn't just promising to ramp up the American effort in Afghanistan. He pledged that "if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights." In response to his call for unilateral U.S. strikes against Al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, Obama received only derision from GOP leaders, including his Republican opponent for the White House, John McCain:

"Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested invading our ally, Pakistan?"

Mercifully, voters rejected the man who repeatedly suggested "if I have to follow him to the gates of hell I will get Osama Bin Laden and I will bring him to justice." Americans were right to ignore John McCain in 2008 and they should do so now. On national security questions, McCain habitually pulls answers out of his ass. Like the dog, he should stay quiet about it.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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