McCain: If I had been elected president in 2000, we might not have gone to war in Iraq

posted at 6:21 pm on July 18, 2014 by Allahpundit

In which Mr. Intervention imagines a more dovish alternate history of the past 15 years, starring himself. Er, is Maverick now … to the left of the next Democratic nominee on the Iraq war?

Here’s what he told Tapper yesterday:

“You’ll find this surprising,” he said, “but I think I would’ve been more reluctant to commit American troops.”…

“If presented with that same evidence today, I would vote the same way,” McCain said of his vote to deploy troops in the country. “I respected and trusted the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. But it’s obvious now, in retrospect, that Saddam Hussein – although he had used weapons of mass destruction – did not have the inventory that we seem to have evidence of. Which now looking back on it, with the benefit of hindsight, (the evidence) was very flimsy.”

If he had been president, McCain said, “I think I would have challenged the evidence with greater scrutiny. I think that with my background with the military and knowledge of national security with these issues that I hope that I would have been able to see through the evidence that was presented at the time.”

McCain specifically cited one of the sources of the faulty intelligence. “The guy named ‘Curveball’ that we were relying on turned out to be some guy in a German prison that was an alcoholic.”

Why didn’t he challenge the evidence with greater scrutiny in his role as senator? He seems to be suggesting that the president has a higher duty of due diligence before putting troops’ lives on the line than the individual members of Congress do when they vote on whether to use military force. I don’t know why he thinks that. Or is he saying that Bush, as commander-in-chief, was privy to certain dubious evidence that Congress wasn’t, which would have set off alarm bells for President McCain but which Senator McCain had no access to? In that case, why didn’t senators have access? A vote as important as an AUMF needs to be fully informed.

Here’s what he said as a candidate in 2000, by the way:

Q: What area of international policy would you change immediately?

A: Our policies concerning rogue states: Iraq, Libya, North Korea-those countries that continue to try to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. I’d institute a policy that I call “rogue state rollback.” I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically elected governments.

He’s not talking about putting U.S. boots on the ground in Baghdad there, but clearly he had Iraq in his crosshairs — and that was two years before the public amped up to super-hawkishness towards the Middle East after 9/11. Would President McCain really have stuck to fomenting internal rebellion in Iraq rather than bringing down America’s hammer on Saddam? Maybe he would have, but I’m skeptical.

The oddest thing about this, of course, is that Maverick remains a hawk for all seasons to this day, even towards maelstroms like Syria where lesser hawks see no obvious benefit to getting involved. A man who, by his own admission, has been burned by bad intel and dubious foreign actors with their own agendas might think twice about intervening in Syria to help a coalition of “moderate” Sunni rebels that may or may not functionally exist. But no, he’s full speed ahead. Click the image to watch.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Comment pages: 1 2

He often takes extreme measures, too strong and too weak and is not a good example of a rational interventionist.

thebrokenrattle on July 18, 2014 at 8:55 PM


terryannonline on July 18, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Every time the “Good Senator” says something like this, my wife looks at me, (while shaking her head) ” You really save this guys life?”. Then she glares and glares and glares………

flackcatcher on July 18, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Hey John McCain: Go. Away.

Jack_Burton on July 18, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Will no one rid us of this troublesome senator?
Yeah ok /sarc whatever

whatabunchoflosers on July 18, 2014 at 10:49 PM

Bush and his circle promised a war in Iraq.

It’s how he got the neocons on board. And it turned some big money donation spigots on. 911, nothing. The Iraq invasion was happening, period.

Those donators made billions in Iraq. So, everything worked out fantastic for them. A fantastic investment.

Moesart on July 19, 2014 at 12:27 AM

Mclame…..YOU LIE!

Mccain is so deep in the military industrial complex he pees F16 hydraulic fluid. That’s the only reason mccain really has disdain for obama, because obama is the only president in 100 years that wasn’t all in on the MIC and making tons of cash off it. Obama found a different way to cash in, and we’re all paying the tab.

I’d sarcastically thank liberals and moderates again for giving us obama, but then look at mccain and let the urge pass.

Diluculo on July 19, 2014 at 2:08 AM

What happened to: “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran“?

Dollayo on July 19, 2014 at 4:44 AM

John McCain would have meant even more liberal big government, big brother government and even more illegals. John McCain is a backstabbing, self serving POS!

Doomsday on July 19, 2014 at 8:10 AM

McCain would have made a very bad president. Not as bad as Obama, but worse than Bush. He is a blowhard. He’s arrogant, temperamental, erratic, conceited, lazy, imperious. He’s not particularly bright. He’s unimaginative. Lord knows how he might have reacted to 9/11. He never sees a foreign policy crisis in which he’s not willing to use force. That’s a recipe for national security disaster.

Esaus Message on July 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

McCain is living proof that torture works, and that it probably has a lasting effect. Mere suggestions can get him trying desperately to please his ‘Questioner’ … heck, no one helped Obama get elected more than McCain. Rev. Wright was off-limits. The racist TUCC group was off-limits. Mentor, communist, child-molester and porn author Frank Marshall Davis was off-limits…in fact, anything negative about Obama was off-limits (I suspect Obama must’ve water boarded him prior to the elections). Maybe the GOP should run him again…

Karmi on July 19, 2014 at 9:12 AM

OMG !!! I hope this isn’t the beginnings of another run for President, by McCain.

kjatexas on July 19, 2014 at 9:22 AM

This guy was tighter than a tick on Ted Kennedy’s ass.

That, right there, is enough to put his judgement in question.


franksalterego on July 19, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Says the guy who’d send American troops to ‘solve’ a fight between two sheepherders in West Boofistan, given half a chance. The man’s career rebuts itself.

You’re a tired, rudderless, self-absorbed old man that the Right doesn’t trust, and the Left regards as a useful idiot. Go. The ****. Away.

orangemtl on July 19, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Go Away NOW!

Kissmygrits on July 19, 2014 at 10:39 AM

McCain is so yesterday. McCain may be 2 yesterdays ago. Why does he still get air time? I am not listening.

steveracer on July 19, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Waaaay past retirement.

Shut up and go home, cCain.

suggesting that the president has a higher duty of due diligence before putting troops’ lives on the line than the individual members of Congress do

Nah. He just figures that as a Senator, the President must be paying more attention to facts than McCain does himself.

IrishEyes on July 19, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Comment pages: 1 2