THE BLOG

Debate Prep#2: Some Lines of Attack on McCain

10/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As a follow up to my earlier blog on debate prep (McCain's likely lines of attack), forthwith are just a few suggested lines of attack against McCain's vaunted foreign and national security experience. Although the financial crisis may become the centerpiece of the debate, this is focused just on foreign policy.

Obviously, there is not enough space here to elaborate upon the unforgiveable foreign policy blunders of the Bush Administration which McCain fails to denounce as the standard bearer of the GOP. From the historic calamity of our occupation of Iraq to the knee jerk support for preemptive war and rejection of tough diplomacy with adversaries, the pile-on is oh so tempting.

So with that in mind, here are a few pointed extras on which to focus your debate watching:

1. IRAQ:

-- According to the June 2008 GAO Report: "Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding Iraq"
a. the "...security environment remains volatile and dangerous,"
b. The Pentagon reported in late Spring that the number of Iraqi units capable of performing operations without U.S. assistance "...has remained at 10%"
c. "...the United States has NOT achieved its goal of defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq..." or "...ensuring that no terrorist safe haven exists in Iraq..."

-- Should the Iraqi Government fail to fulfill its obligations to the Awakening Councils, Sunnis will boycott the upcoming provincial elections and sectarian violence will resume to the levels before the surge. And right now the Iraqi Govt. is very reluctant to support the Awakening Councils. That will undermine the lower level of violence that the surge helped achieve.

-- The Iraqi Government categorically rejects Sen. McCain's position that there should be no timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

-- McCain continues to insist that Al Qaeda was supported by Saddam despite all non-partisan evidence to the contrary.

2. GEORGIA AND RUSSIA

-- McCain's chief foreign policy advisor has been the principal lobbyist for the governnment of Georgia in the United States. He was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry Georgia's water in Washington. Why should the American people believe that McCain's position on Georgia is in America's interest when his chief foreign policy advisor was the principal foreign agent for Georgia in the U.S. until he joined the campaign.

3. PAKISTAN:

-- McCain criticized Obama's call for "hot pursuit" into Pakistani territory to chase down Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders asserting that this was a dangerous and reckless. This is exactly what the U.S. military is currently undertaking.

4. TRADE & U.S. JOBS:

-- Carly Fiorina, one of McCain's principal economic advisors, and who was CEO of Hewlitt Packard, presided over the largest export of U.S. based HP jobs abroad.

5. ISLAMIC EXTREMISM

-- McCain asserts that the greatest danger America faces is "radical Islamic extremism." McCain doesn't even know the difference between a radical Sunni extremist and a radical Shiite extremist.

6. GENERAL FOREIGN POLICY GAFFE ZINGERS

* On July 21st, McCain said on Good Morning America that the situation was tough in Afghanistan, particularly, he said, "given the struggle on the Iraq-Pakistan border." NOTE: Pakistan does not border Iraq.

* On July 23, McCain said the surge wasn't really about more troops, but counter-insurgency tactics. And yet the political credit McCain seeks for the turn-around in Iraq is based principally on his advocacy if the surge - meaning more troops to carry out counter-insurgency missions. To say the surge wasn't really about more troops undercuts much of McCain has tried to tell the public about what has changed in Iraq and why.

* On July 24th, McCain called Iraq "the first major conflict since 9/11." Tell that to Hamid Karzai, current President of Afghanistan and brought to power by the US-led defeat of the Taliban in the months immediately following 9/11.

* In a trip to the Middle East last month, Mr. McCain made an embarrassing mistake when he said several times that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. (The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, a Sunni insurgent group.) And on Tuesday at hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee he briefly referred to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as a Shiite group, rather than a Sunni group.

* And at the end of July on CNN, McCain said 16 months for a troop withdrawal from Iraq is "a pretty good timetable." His campaign said McCain meant it was good so long as conditions on the ground warranted troop withdrawals. This is from a candidate who claimed the U.S. could not possibly condone a timetable.

*And while discussing Darfur, a region in Sudan, McCain said in June, "How can we bring pressure on the government of Somalia?" His senior adviser Mark Salter corrected him, saying, "Sudan."

Hope to see you sitting in that chair in Oxford, Miss, Sen. McCain tomorrow evening I rest my case!