Politico reports that the Democrats plan an election campaign accusing John McCain of wanting “100 Years of War”, but may have some trouble explaining how Barack Obama’s chief military adviser offered the exact same advice five years ago. The distortion of McCain’s remarks about how the US can secure its interests in the region has already been featured on the campaign website on Obama despite his association with General Merrill “Tony” McPeak and McPeak’s identical argument at the beginning of the Iraq invasion:
John McCain is scheduled to deliver a major foreign policy speech Wednesday in Los Angeles, one with a heavy Iraq focus, but chances are Democrats won’t be listening. They’ve already distilled his views into an easy to remember formulation: 100 years of war.
It is a reference to an offhand remark made by McCain in January about the possible duration of the U.S. presence in Iraq, a comment that Democrats now portray as the equivalent of the McCain Doctrine.
Though it’s not exactly an accurate representation of McCain’s views, Democratic strategists view the “100 years” remark as the linchpin of an effort to turn McCain’s national security credentials against him by framing the Vietnam War hero as a warmonger who envisions an American presence in Iraq without end.
“Not an exact representation”? That’s putting it mildly. McCain specifically made the point that he could not support indefinite combat conditions, but an American presence without American casualties would not be war at all. It would be very much like our bases in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, which kept the peace in those regions for decades after the shooting stopped in those war theaters.
At first, the Democratic insistence on misunderstanding McCain could be chalked up to simple military and historical incompetence, both of which the Democrats have demonstrated repeatedly over the last several decades. However, the revelation that Obama’s chief military adviser made the same argument to the Oregonian in 2003 removes stupidity as an excuse, leaving only dishonesty as the explanation:
Is Iraq the last country we confront in the Middle East?
Who wants to volunteer to get cross-ways with us? We’ll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right.
I’ll tell you one thing we should not hope for (is) a democratic Iraq. When I hear the president talking about democracy, the last thing we should want is an election in Iraq. We’re not very popular. So I don’t think we’ll see any open elections in Iraq for a long time.
Hopefully over time they can be brought along like Japan and Germany — Japan and Germany were relatively easy, I think, and South Korea.
Here’s what McCain said:
“Make it 100 [years] … We’ve been in South Korea . . . we’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, that’s fine with me. I hope that would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaeda is training, recruiting and equipping and motivating people every single day.”
Democrats, especially Barack Obama, need to explain the difference between McPeak and McCain. There isn’t any. McPeak even made this argument while opposing the invasion. That’s why Factcheck calls this a “rank falsehood” and a “serious distortion”. Politifact calls Obama’s rhetoric on this “false”.
Unless the Democrats want to argue that we’ve been at war in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, they haven’t got an argument. All they have are stupidity, lies, or a mix of both.
Update: Tom Maguire revises and extends his earlier look at Tony McPeak.