Thursday, July 17, 2008

Going to Iraq or Not

John McCain continues to make a big stink over how often Obama has been to Iraq, what he's going to learn when he's there, how he should always wait before saying anything until he has talked to the commanders on the ground, etc.

The stink is just stink, though, because who really thinks that going to Iraq and sitting in a tent somewhere, or touring a street that's been thoroughly prepped for your visit, is going to give you a materially superior perspective? I don't think that. I've worked for places where it's a different world when the higher-ups come to visit. Because the rest of us are spiffing it up and sprucing it up so they'll like what they see. Then when they leave it goes back to what it usually is.

The trips our government officials have made to Iraq have more or less been nothing but propaganda visits anyway. They go there with an agenda, then they come back saying their agenda has been validated. That's all it is. McCain walked the streets in full body armor, security planes, sharpshooters, the whole works, and he could come out of that with his prior opinion validated, that it is safer now than before.

Going there, then, is more symbolic than anything else. Really, there's nothing the commander on the ground can tell you on that particular ground that he couldn't tell you somewhere else. You're standing on the soil of that country, that's the only difference. It's the same commander's mouth, the same words.

As an example, McCain wants to make big hay out of the surge. He's been there, he's seen it work. But everyone can see -- without going to Iraq -- that the basic outcomes of the surge, the benchmarks and decreasing our troop presence have not yet been fulfilled. Just redefining what the surge was, then declaring victory, sounds simple and makes good headlines, but it's revisionism. Sitting in America we can see that.

Any fool could say this: If you have a lot of violence putting more soldiers in will likely help quell it. This is not a philosophy (Mitt Romney) that is new. We've all known it even from our days in school. If two kids are fighting outside, when additional teachers show up they'll be more likely to stop them. Duh.

The short version of the story is that McCain is going to criticize Obama no matter what he says or does concerning Iraq.

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