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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    McCain’s misguided support for surge

    Quintin Cushnercolumnist
    Quintin Cushner

    Senator John McCain, who was stabbed in the groin with a bayonet and tortured in countless other ways while serving this country, is a hero and a patriot. But he has recently made a terrible mistake.

    The hawkish Arizona Republican, who fought in the protracted, divisive and doomed Vietnam War, is the head cheerleader for President Bush’s decision to increase by more than 20,000 the number of troops in the protracted, divisive and doomed Iraq war.

    The senator’s sacrifice in Vietnam remains extraordinary, even as that war’s foul stench lingers 30 years after the fall of Saigon. McCain, a former naval aviator who now serves on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, wrote in his 1999 memoir, “”Faith of Our Fathers,”” of horrific treatment at the hands of his captors in Vietnam. McCain has long blamed this country’s failure in Vietnam on lack of public support at home and lack of troops in the war zone.

    Perhaps to avoid the latter issue in Iraq, McCain successfully pounded the drum for a surge of U.S. troops in Iraq. He noted in a Jan. 7 op-ed piece in the Washington Post that an increase of about five brigades, or about 25,000 more troops, could stabilize the country. This week, in a speech to the nation, President Bush confirmed that he thinks in a similar fashion.

    The senator has tried to dispel the notion that troops, when properly positioned, have been ineffective in suppressing the burgeoning civil war. He argues that the military should “”maintain security in cleared areas to protect the population and to impose the government’s authority”” in places such as Baghdad.

    McCain’s argument assumes that the U.S. military can distinguish the average, unarmed Iraqi from one that has covertly taken up arms in a religious feud between Shiite and Sunni, which started around the seventh century. The big problem with a guerrilla war is that no area is really “”clear”” unless it is empty. And most troops will be sent to Iraq’s capital and most populous city, Baghdad.

    The senator also assumes the Iraqi government, which has hemorrhaged credibility ever since the 2005 elections, is an institution worth preserving. As anyone who frequents can learn, that government’s execution of Saddam Hussein wasn’t exactly a model of decorum.

    Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki’s government authorized supporters of the violent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to attend the execution. Their taunting of Saddam caused what should have been a solemn execution of a monstrous figure to play out like a tribal lynching.

    To maintain popular support, Maliki has time and again appeased the popular terrorist al-Sadr, who controls the largest Shiite militia in Iraq and influences members of the country’s parliament. Al-Sadr’s power is a reason why Maliki has not spoken in support of the troop surge and a cause for the United States to worry about how committed to peace the Iraqi government is.

    So into a war intended to fight terrorism the United States will now send 21,500 more troops, at great cost, in support of a government whose leadership is chummy with terrorists. What a sad farce.

    To his credit, McCain, who seems set to run for President in 2008, is careful not to be overly

    optimistic about the results of the troop surge.

    “”There is no guarantee of success in Iraq,”” McCainwrote in the Post. “”We have made many mistakes since 2003, and these will not be easily reversed. But from everything I recently witnessed, I believe that success is still possible.””

    A better way of putting it is that success in Iraq is not impossible, mathematically speaking. But it’s very unlikely. This country is splintering, and perhaps the best that can be hoped for is not one Iraq, but for a short-lived and bloodless division of the country along ethnic lines. A surge of 21,500 servicemen will likely do little to keep Iraq from fracturing further.

    The United States government, like a drunk who’s had too many, can’t drink itself sober. But McCain and the president seem committed to seeing this through, even after billions of dollars wasted and 3,000 American lives lost.

    This begs the question: If McCain wins the White House, will America ever leave Iraq?

    Quintin Cushner is a first-year law student. He can be reached at

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