War Supporter McCain Laments 'Missteps' in Iraq

Friday, February 2, 2007

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been a firm supporter of the Iraq war and of President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Baghdad in the coming months. In comments at yesterday's confirmation hearing for Gen. George W. Casey Jr. to be the Army chief of staff, however, he expressed stark concerns about the war. An excerpt:

Things have gotten markedly and progressively worse, and the situation in Iraq can now best be described as dire and deteriorating. I regret that our window of opportunity to reverse momentum may be closing.

The bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra last February sparked sectarian violence throughout Iraq, and Baghdad in particular. Yet in the face of this dramatic change in the Iraqi security environment, our military strategy remained essentially unchanged. Instead of conducting a traditional counterinsurgency campaign, our troops focused on training and equipping Iraqis, hoping in vain that they could do the job. After repeated elections and political events demonstrated that the democratic process would not on its own bring down the level of violence, our troops did not begin focusing on protecting the population. Instead, coalition and Iraqi forces launched Operation Together Freedom in June 2006. This operation aimed at securing Baghdad failed, yet the coalition launched Operation Together Forward II in August in a very similar fashion. The result, predictably, was a similar failure.

The result of these and other missteps have been unprecedented levels of violence in Iraq and a pervasive lack of security that prohibits political and economic activity.

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