Team McCain Conference Call: Iraq

posted at 12:10 pm on July 14, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

John McCain’s campaign continued its daily press conference calls today with a discussion of Barack Obama’s Iraq policy.  The McCain organization has made these a staple of their summer strategy, inviting both mainstream media and bloggers to participate.  The candidate himself has not made many appearances for these calls, but they usually arrange high-profile surrogates.  Today, Senator Lindsey Graham talked about Obama’s op-ed in the New York Times.

Graham said he was “astonished” by the piece, a “brazen effort to rewrite history.”  Whether anyone agrees on our entry into Iraq, it became a central front in the war on terror as soon as al-Qaeda began recruiting terrorists to go there and attack our troops there.  Osama bin Laden himself made that clear in speeches and writings, and it has allowed us to have our military bring its full might against AQ and radical Islamist terrorists.  Had we lost in Iraq, it would have been a huge victory for AQ.

Insisting that Iraq was “never” a central front on terrorism shows a complete lack of understanding of the conflict.

On the surge, Graham points out what I wrote this morning — that Obama denied that more troops would help in January 2007, and suggested that it would further destabilize the nation.  McCain understood that a proper counterinsurgency fight needed more troops and a significant shift in tactics, which was what the surge delivered.

Graham accompanied McCain on seven of eight of his trips to Iraq.  They learned that we didn’t have enough combat troops to conduct the needed mission nor the right strategy.  Democrats and Republicans both managed to get it wrong, but McCain diagnosed that a problem existed and that it could be fixed.   Obama not only argued the wrong solution — withdrawal — but he and his colleagues made it much more difficult to adopt the correct strategy.  McCain risked his political career to make sure America did not lose rather than worry about partisan advantage — which is the major difference between himself and Obama.

How could Obama meet a brigade when they return that the surge didn’t work?  The stunning improvement in Iraq is directly resultant from the surge, and anyone who doesn’t recognize this clearly doesn’t understand the situation.  Announcing our withdrawal now would re-energize the enemy while we have them on their knees.

Foreign-policy adviser Corey Schache added that Obama is fundamentally mistaken about the nature of the insurgency now, as in the past.  Threatening Iraqis with abandonment won’t spur them towards progress.  The surge showed that partnership rather than abandonment produces positive change.  Advocating that shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the conflict.

Randy Schueneman says that Obama believes that losing a war will win him an election.  He also questioned why Obama made training Iraqi troops conditional on benchmark progress.  Why?  Isn’t a well-trained Iraqi armed service in support of a democratically-elected government in everyone’s interest?

Questions:

  • Washington Post: If Maliki wants timetables, what does McCain has to say about it? — Graham thinks that Maliki’s assessment is good news.  That’s only possible because the security, economic, and political environment has improved so greatly over the last year.  We need to leave in a manner than maintains these gains, not on a timetable that ignores the situation on the ground.  We need to engage Iraq as a sovereign nation to make the best plan that secures the gains made.
  • New York Sun: Obama wants to send two combat brigades to Afghanistan and says it’s now the central front on terror.  Agree?  — McCain has made four trips to Afghanistan to Obama’s zero.  He wants a better counterinsurgency strategy there as well, but McCain will be addressing specifics later this week.  Graham says that AQ has fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan to defeat moderates; it is no side effort but part of the same effort against radical Islamists.  Obama’s strategy would have made Iraq a failed state in 2007 and handed a big victory to AQ.
  • New York Times: Things deteriorating in Afghanistan because of the distraction of Iraq? — We got Iraq wrong initially because we didn’t have enough troops there.  In Afghanistan, NATO is in charge, and the member states have been slow to meet their pledges.  You can’t complain about Bush’s supposed unilateralism on one hand and then complain that we worked through a multilateral organization on the other.  The drug trade is a big part of the problem in Afghanistan.
  • USA Today: Obama will go to Europe.  What is your opinion of US-Europe relations, and how would McCain address them?  Graham says McCain is especially adept at building coalitions and has a track record of doing just that.  He commands respect, and he is known throughout the world among world leaders.  McCain has also emphasized the need to address foreign relations and has acted on that as a legislator.  Obama couldn’t be bothered to hold a hearing of his own subcommittee on European relations.
  • Mort Kondracke, Roll Call: McCain has referred to the Korea model for Iraq, but Maliki apparently doesn’t want that — Graham says that Maliki wants a sovereign and united Iraq, a coherent and independent nation.  Long term, it’s difficult to see how the US/Iraqi partnership will go, but Graham says we need a collaborative discussion on those terms, not a unilateral plan to withdraw from Iraq as Obama champions.  “The fact that we’re talking about this, Mort, is the best testament that the surge worked. … This is what the surge was designed to do.”

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In other news, Iran launched more missiles:

http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k77/tundra_cool/missilies.jpg

Vincenzo on July 14, 2008 at 12:15 PM

I hate that the MSM is jumping on the “timetables” thing.

The whole point was to get the Iraqisto tell us when they will be ready to send us on our way.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:17 PM

I thought that “Team McCain” was going to be busy today sucking socks for the Race.

Is this Iraq stuff some kind of “Team McCain” diversion so we won’t notice.

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:18 PM

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Clearly you noticed, so all the smart folks can see through McCains “distractions”

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:20 PM

It’s really nice that McAmnesty has Ms. Lindsay GrAmnesty out there front and center speaking for his campaign. This will win many votes from the base!

sabbott on July 14, 2008 at 12:22 PM

sabbott on July 14, 2008 at 12:22 PM

He is the right person to talk about Iraq since he is the only person who has been over there as both as Senator and a Servicemember.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Obama secured the democratic nomination before the dims knew who he was. After becoming the nominee, he has consistently flip flopped on every position he had. Even McCain should let Obama talk his way out of the presidency. Obama proves the political adage, “it makes no difference to voters what you stand for, just don’t piss them off.”

volsense on July 14, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Insisting that Iraq was “never” a central front on terrorism shows a complete lack of understanding of the conflict.

It has been the “central front” and then some for over 5 years because Bush, with his Islamic nation building made Iraq the “central front” and then some.

McCain has referred to the Korea model for Iraq, but Maliki apparently doesn’t want that — Graham says that Maliki wants a sovereign and united Iraq, a coherent and independent nation.

Well that’s what Bush has said that he wanted for Iraq.

Long term, it’s difficult to see how the US/Iraqi partnership will go

Difficult to see for certain, but not at all difficult to make a reasonable prediction. Iran controlled by Islamic Shiites, Iraq now mainly controlled by Islamic Shiites, United States a bunch of infidels. Take a guess.

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Well McCain team is smart I give you that by making people forget about McCain going to destory America by bankrupting the federal government with his allowing all the poor Mexicans into U.S. plan.

BroncosRock on July 14, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Clearly you noticed, so all the smart folks can see through McCains “distractions”

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Actually I must confess that I noticed because Michelle Malkin noticed, otherwise I might not have noticed.

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:31 PM

It’s really nice that McAmnesty has Ms. Lindsay GrAmnesty out there front and center speaking for his campaign. This will win many votes from the base!

sabbott on July 14, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Juan Hernandez is mucho cool too. What a team!

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:40 PM

In Afghanistan, NATO is in charge, and the member states have been slow to meet their pledges. You can’t complain about Bush’s supposed unilateralism on one hand and then complain that we worked through a multilateral organization on the other.

They can’t complain about that . . . but you know they will. If things are going bad in Afghanistan, it has to be the U.S.’s fault somehow, even if NATO is in charge there, because every problem in the world can always be traced back to us.

AZCoyote on July 14, 2008 at 12:41 PM

The McCain team has to take the gloves off. This constant apologies for any criticism of Obama is getting a bit much. Why not mention that Obama is against making English even a national language and Obama saying that we should be a bilingual nation? What about Obama saying he is embarassed by American tourists in Europe? What about Obama opposing the death penalty when he was a state senator in Illinois? McCain should say that under the Obama plan, if Osama Ben Laden is captured, Obama would see to it that Ben Laden gets a jury trial in New York City (the most liberal place fo find jury members), that Obama would see to it that Ben Laden gets the best lawyers, the best jury consultants, the best expert witnesses and the best appellate lawyers. McCain could have a field day on the Ben Laden issue alone if McCain’s campaign advisors weren’t all such wimps.

Larraby on July 14, 2008 at 12:42 PM

He is the right person to talk about Iraq since he is the only person who has been over there as both as Senator and a Servicemember.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Hasn’t Ms. Lindsay’s main job in the military (Air Force Reserve) been as a lawyer?

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Hasn’t Ms. Lindsay’s main job in the military (Air Force Reserve) been as a lawyer?

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:44 PM

The lawyers still carry guns and deal with the deatinees and ROE.

The Naval and Air Force Lawyers are the largest representatives from both of their branches in Iraq. (Along with Logistics/Supply bubbas)

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:49 PM

What about Obama saying he is embarassed by American tourists in Europe?

Thats not uncommon, Americans embarrass me in Europe too.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Hasn’t Ms. Lindsay’s main job in the military (Air Force Reserve) been as a lawyer?

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 12:44 PM
The lawyers still carry guns and deal with the deatinees and ROE.

The Naval and Air Force Lawyers are the largest representatives from both of their branches in Iraq. (Along with Logistics/Supply bubbas)

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:49 PM

I think Ms. Lindsay’s main JAG work has been drug cases.

Wethal on July 14, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Possibly,
Alot of the lawyers are involved in detainee stuff.

I think Sen Grahm is a Mil Judge by billet, but I could be wrong.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:58 PM

The lawyers still carry guns and deal with the deatinees and ROE.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 12:49 PM

So are you saying that Ms. Lindsey carries a gun (what kind?) and deals with detainees?

I think Ms. Lindsay’s main JAG work has been drug cases.

Wethal on July 14, 2008 at 12:51 PM

I heard somewhere that he did a lot of work making out wills.

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 1:01 PM

New York Times: Things deteriorating in Afghanistan because of the distraction of Iraq? — We got Iraq wrong initially because we didn’t have enough troops there. In Afghanistan, NATO is in charge, and the member states have been slow to meet their pledges. You can’t complain about Bush’s supposed unilateralism on one hand and then complain that we worked through a multilateral organization on the other.

Good answer, Team McCain.

Mort: McCain has referred to the Korea model for Iraq

As I have heard him say it, he has never called for this model. He has only ever said the American people wouldn’t be upset with it. Somehow, that has been translated into his long term plan for Iraq. It isn’t, Mort.

MayBee on July 14, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Team McCain Conference Call: Iraq

Yes, the McCain strategy of coming home winners, vs. the Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, and of course, the Messiah’s desire to surrender.

byteshredder on July 14, 2008 at 1:06 PM

Bush today lifted a ban on offshore drilling, the mortgage crises takes a new, taxpayer-funded turn, and McCain is AWOL while his campaign has Lindsey Graham out there talking about Iraq. Okay. Sounds like a strategy to me.

As an aside, I hope that Phil Gramm told McCain to shove his campaign right up his rear end. I also haven’t seen Mitt (my guy) around much, and I hope that all of our preferred Republican candidates have realized that McCain is a backward disaster and that they will do better by avoiding him.

BigD on July 14, 2008 at 1:08 PM

Democrat opposition to this war is nothing new. And I’m not referring to Viet Nam. I watched some of Ken Burn’s Civil War last night. Union troops had to rush from the battlefield at Gettysburg to put down Democrats rioting in NYC. New York City wanted to be an “open” city and not be a part of the war effort.

snaggletoothie on July 14, 2008 at 1:08 PM

Obama has no business running for President, he shouldn’t even be in the Senate. He is so willfully ignorant on so many fronts that he’s twice surrounded.

To win the nomination, he had two parrot the idiocies screeching out of the beaks of the lunatic left.

Now he’s got to fly back from Loonytown to Normalville.

And since he’s so woefully inexperienced in life, he’s having a difficult time of it.

It’s really unbelievably tragic that this dope is where he is. If he were truly as smart as everyone says he is, he would realize he is completely out of his element.

NoDonkey on July 14, 2008 at 1:17 PM

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Most servicepersons in Iraq carry some sort of weapon, even the lawyers.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 1:19 PM

I heard somewhere that he did a lot of work making out wills.

This is a big hunk of in-theatre day-to-day legal ops.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 1:20 PM

I’m not crazy about Senator Graham’s positions on immigration, but he did a good job speaking for McCain on the Iraq issue. The rebuttal about Obama not bothering to hold a meeting of his subcommittee was a good one. I’d like to hear McCain’s specifics about Afghanistan “later this week”, but Graham was wise in not divulging them ahead of time, which could have let the press publicize runaway headlines about something that might have been off-message.

What was missing here was a criticism of Obama’s “judgment to lead” slogan, with a comment that following Obama’s judgment would have led to disaster in Iraq.

Steve Z on July 14, 2008 at 1:21 PM

In other news, Iran launched more missiles:

http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k77/tundra_cool/missilies.jpg

Vincenzo on July 14, 2008 at 12:15 PM

ROFL!!! You owe me a new keyboard! (still laughing…)

dominigan on July 14, 2008 at 1:38 PM

ROFL!!! You owe me a new keyboard! (still laughing…)

dominigan on July 14, 2008 at 1:38 PM

It’s the least, and I mean least, I can do.

Vincenzo on July 14, 2008 at 1:39 PM

Most servicepersons in Iraq carry some sort of weapon, even the lawyers.

Squid Shark on July 14, 2008 at 1:19 PM

OK fine, but I would like to know what kind of weapon Ms. Lindsey carries when he is in Iraq

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 1:40 PM

McCain has allowed his thoughts on most all of the subject to be aired nationally.
He has been the only one of the two candidates to define his views, and further define the complex ones.
He knows that his distractors will hunt through the 20+ years of speeches, votes, and decisions to find some discrepancy (that’s what the bloggers on this site do), and then blow it out of proportion (you saw it with Graham and a desperate anti-McCain poster finally hinted he was just a “will” writer).
Meanwhile, he builds goodwill with the electorate, and infuriates the MDS’rs with honesty. Something they (MDS) have a difficult time adjusting to…being honest.

right2bright on July 14, 2008 at 1:40 PM

OK fine, but I would like to know what kind of weapon Msr. Lindsey carries when he is in Iraq

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 1:40 PM

Why? You want to get one just like it?

db on July 14, 2008 at 2:02 PM

Team McCain Conference Call

There is no “team” in McCain.

Valiant on July 14, 2008 at 2:32 PM

OK fine, but I would like to know what kind of weapon Ms. Lindsey carries when he is in Iraq

MB4 on July 14, 2008 at 1:40 PM

A Beretta pistol, if you believe the Washington Post.

Dawnsblood on July 14, 2008 at 2:39 PM

Obama will continue to massage history until someone sticks his feet in the fire. Liberals accept lies as long as they are uttered by the right party.

drjohn on July 14, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Larraby posted earlier that “McCain needs to take the gloves off”. I totally agree. Why not take one of those “secret” flights over to Iraq and publicly call out Obama for one of those “anywhere, anytime” debates in one of Saddam’s former palaces. Bring FNC along for the BATTLE IN BAGDAD. It would be GREAT pr for Mav, and the Chitown Coward would never show up.

oakpack on July 14, 2008 at 3:36 PM