McCain’s big Iraq speech

posted at 2:25 pm on April 11, 2007 by Allahpundit

This perhaps isn’t the most opportune day to reemphasize one’s commitment to the mission, but it’s still a solid B+, to borrow a phrase. It perks up halfway through and ends memorably, but there’s simply not much here that hasn’t been said before and at least as well. A mild disappointment for something so anticipated, although as Barnett says, in this case it’s very much the thought that counts.

It’s broken up roughly into four parts: WoT overview, progress in Iraq, our moral obligation and the consequences of withdrawal, and Democratic weakness. Pam Hess would appreciate this:

To enumerate the strategic interests at stake in Iraq does not address our moral obligation to a people we liberated from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. I suspect many in this audience, and most members of Congress, look back at America’s failure to act to prevent genocide in Rwanda with shame. I know I do. And yet I fear the potential for genocide and ethnic cleansing in Iraq is even worse. The sectarian violence, the social divisions, the armaments, the weakened security apparatus of the state – all the ingredients are there. Unless we fight to prevent it, our withdrawal will be coupled with a genocide in which we are complicit. Given our security interests and our moral investment in Iraq, so long as we have a chance to prevail we must try to prevail.

This is also well stated. I’d call it elementary, but Democrats pretend not to understand it so how elementary can it be?

It is impossible to separate sectarian violence from the war against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is following an explicit strategy to foment civil war in Iraq. The only way to reduce and finally end sectarian violence is to provide greater security to the population than we have in the past, as we are doing now in Baghdad; to encourage Iraqis to abandon their reliance on local militias, and to destroy al Qaeda and other truly irreconcilable enemies of the United States and the Iraqi people.

And finally, big money:

Before I left for Iraq, I watched with regret as the House of Representatives voted to deny our troops the support necessary to carry out their new mission. Democratic leaders smiled and cheered as the last votes were counted. What were they celebrating? Defeat? Surrender? In Iraq, only our enemies were cheering. A defeat for the United States is a cause for mourning not celebrating. And determining how the United States can avert such a disaster should encourage the most sober, public-spirited reasoning among our elected leaders not the giddy anticipation of the next election. Democrats who voted to authorize this war, and criticized the failed strategy that has led us to this perilous moment, have the same responsibility I do, to offer support when that failure is recognized and the right strategy is proposed and the right commanders take the field to implement it or, at the least, to offer an alternative strategy that has some relationship to reality…

Democrats, who deny our soldiers the means to prevent an American defeat, have chosen another road. It may appear to be the easier course of action, but it is a much more reckless one, and it does them no credit even if it gives them an advantage in the next election. This is an historic choice, with ramifications for Americans not even born yet. Let’s put aside for a moment the small politics of the day. The judgment of history should be the approval we seek, not the temporary favor of the latest public opinion poll.

I’m not convinced that there’s no Giuliani-esque pillar-of-strength political benefit to all this. The CW is that McCain is nuts to throw in his lot with Bush on the surge, but really, what does it cost him? Giuliani and Romney support the war almost as strongly; whoever emerges will be hammered by the left for his hawkishness anyway. McCain’s been critical enough of Bush in the past that he can distinguish his support for the mission from his support for the strategy down the road. So why not be a “statesman” — a term he uses expressly in the speech to draw a line between himself and the Democrats — and take the lead on Iraq? It’s earning him glowing praise from righty bloggers who normally find his capital-M maverickness distasteful; I’m sure it does him some good with the base, too.

Of course, if the surge fails, it probably does hurt him the most. If you believe Andrea Mitchell, GOP support will collapse in August unless there’s some progress on the ground; if there isn’t, I’ll be curious to see how how McCain’s reorients his message to deal with the prospect of withdrawal. “We should have stuck with it” doesn’t sound like a winner if there’s bipartisan support for the opposite proposition.

There’ll be video here shortly if you’re in the mood, but the speech is long and McCain isn’t enough of a showman to make it worth my while, at least.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


He still doesn’t get my primary vote, although he deserves his props for this.

thirteen28 on April 11, 2007 at 2:34 PM

Every day is the right day to reemphasize one’s commitment to the mission.

a4g on April 11, 2007 at 2:52 PM

Two words, McCain Feingold.
Will a real candidate please stand up.

Kini on April 11, 2007 at 3:24 PM

Where is the Lincoln of our age? Where is the America that fought for the dignity of man no matter where he (or she) lived.

Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment
Washington, D.C.
August 22, 1864

“I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright–not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”

And that’s all we want for the people of Iraq; that each of them may have, through a free government such as we enjoy, an open field and a fair chance for thier industry, enterprise and intelligence; that they may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations.

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on April 11, 2007 at 3:31 PM

It’s a shame he chose to say this on the day the Duke Lacrosse Tema gets officially exonerated. Whatever you think of McCain, this is good stuff and needs to be heard.

see-dubya on April 11, 2007 at 3:36 PM

It’s a dis-service to the american people and our way of life that the dems and the msm actively reject McCains message. A great message from a great american.

csdeven on April 11, 2007 at 6:30 PM

“Responsible political leaders – statesmen – do not add to the burdens our troops carry.”

McCain is exactly right, on this point.

Lawrence on April 11, 2007 at 10:15 PM

Mr. McCain, can you please explain your compromise on border security and amnesty for illegal aliens in your Kennedy-McCain proposal?

How can you call the Dems on the carpet when you have been in Congress for decades, and the border is not yet secured?


I have said this before, thank you for your service to this county, stay in the race and bring your ideas to the debates if you want, but your record in the Senate speaks for itself. You have my respect, but not my vote.

God Bless you Sir, God Bless You!

PinkyBigglesworth on April 12, 2007 at 1:01 AM

8 comments, seriously? Folks, give the man credit where credit is due. Kudos to you, Mr. Mccain, for sticking to principle and fighting the good fight, and I acknoledge and applaud it.

Patriot33 on April 12, 2007 at 2:26 AM

“If you believe Andrea Mitchell, GOP support will collapse in August…”

I don’t.

In fact, Andrea Mitchell can go to Hell and Chris Matthews can join her there.

georgej on April 12, 2007 at 4:24 AM