Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain's column that was censored by the NY Times

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editor's note: This is the column John McCain submitted to The New York Times that The Times declined to run without changes. The Times did not commission the piece. Newspapers are under no obligation to publish unsolicited manuscripts.

The Times previously had featured a column by Barack Obama, which prompted the McCain response. When the Richmond Times-Dispatch uses columns by political candidates, it allows their competitors opportunities to reply. We edit for grammar and accuracy but not for content.

We would have accepted the McCain piece and would not have suggested changes; if the McCain piece had run first, we would have welcomed an Obama rebuttal. And, the episode plays entirely to McCain's advantage. It affords him and his column far more attention than they would have received if
The Times had run the piece. We will run Obama's Iraq column when -- and if -- we receive permission.

WASHINGTON -- In January 2007, when Gen. 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. Sen. 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 Jan. 10, 2007. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Sen. 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 newfound 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 Sen. 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 [last] 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.

Sen. 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 Sen. 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 Sen. 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 Sen. Obama.

SEN. 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 Maj. Gen. 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 alQaida and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we've had too few troops in Iraq. Sen. 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.

John McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
And the bias of the mainstream media continues with this latest episode by the New York Times....


Anonymous said...

Senator McCain wrote: He will withdraw troops from Iraq, "...based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons."

So, regardless what the American people cry out for, he will stay the course. No matter how many people take to the streets and demand an end to this folly, he will stay the course. No matter whether or not there is a single person left in Iraq who still wants the USA troops there, he will stay the course.

This is so much a re-run of Vietnam, even the Nixonian rhetoric is the same. The People be damned, he will keep spending on a pointless war, no matter what they want!

Millions of us who are Republicans are now convinced that, "W's Most Excellent Iraq Adventure" was a major mistake and a waste of our national resources.

It especially hurts to think of how much closer we could be to energy independence in America, had we devoted the trillion dollars that Bush pissed away in Iraq, towards our own national energy programs.

McCain is making it extremely hard to support him. The President MUST be responsive to the citizens and if the citizens say that it is time to leave, then the President MUST follow the will of the People.

I am convinced that this "war" was nothing but Bush responding to pressure from his multinational, military industrial complex, controllers. If we follow who has profited from the war, it is the international war machine conglomerates, while the citizens have been rewarded with four dollar a gallon gas and bigger, more intrusive government here at home.

McCain must pledge to respond to the will of the people as well as to uphold our Constitution, including not having any more undeclared wars.

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

You certainly are not speaking for this Republican and the majority of other Republicans. 3,000 innocent people were killed on American soil on 9/11 and you seem to have forgotten.

This was not an "undeclared" war -- Congress, backed almost 100% by both Republicans and Democrats, voted to go to war. It was the worst attack on America EVER -- worst than Pearl Harbor which was mostly military casualties.

What is wrong with you that you and other anti-war people can't see the danger and alarm at 3,000 people dying on our soil??? Seven short years later you act as if nothing ever happened.

President Bush, thank you very much, took the murder of those 3,000 people very seriously. So did the rest of the Nation at the time ... have you forgotten?

Have you forgotten the terror on the streets? We didn't know if they were going to come back and hit us again.

I very well remember ... and for you to bash our President because of the war is totally nieve of you. John McCain, for the faults he has, has steadfastly supported our President in the war and I thank him for that.

You, Sir, could be, a) dead; b) homeless from bombed-out buildings; c) overrun by Muselim countries ... if we had not stood up to the terrorism threat.

Energy independence? What about a bombed-out country ... what kind of gasoline would we have needed then? Your short-sighted view of the world is exactly what we DON'T need in leadership.

And you, Sir, are what scares me about the "can't we all go along to get along" attitude of many in this country who are too lazy to fight for themselves, and too lazy to back the ones who DO stand up to fight for them.

President Bush said, "We're ready, we're stady, we're resolved." He didn't quibble and hide in the corner and leave us to fend for ourselves.

That, apparently, is what you would have us do.

Armchair critics ... you do not have a plan of what you would do but you can criticize others who have saved your behind.

Spare me.

Isophorone said...

Tyler, you would have been a real riot in 1943.

John McCain saw that the situation was tough, but there was a way we could WIN. Gen Petraeus also adopted a new strategy to achieve victory. History has now proven both of them right, and Barack Obama wrong.

As far as the Vietnam analogy is concerned, remember that our troops actually did win on the ground. Recent historical reviews show that the North Vietnamese were actually on the brink of surrender once Nixon put more military pressure on them. (Naturally, the press at the time didn't exactly report this.) We were supposed to SUPPORT the South Vietnamese government once we pulled out a lot of our own troops, but, alas, Congress decided to stab them in the back. The rest is, yes, a tragic history.

Lynn, I agree with you that the critics, whether they be leftists, isolationists, or the Paulistinians, never have a plan of their own.