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Jon Soltz

Jon Soltz

Posted: July 8, 2008 08:53 PM

The Flip Flopper on Iraq? McCain


You'd think with all the media consternation with the non-existent "flip flop" of Obama on Iraq (you know, the one where he didn't change his position at all), reporters would be blowing their stack at the true flip flop from John McCain on Iraq.

Late yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki said it's time for the US to leave, or set a timetable to leave.

There you have it. The Iraqis are basically telling the US that they endorse Obama's policy -- they want us to set a timetable to bring the troops home. John McCain in 2004 said we'd respect such a request, telling the Council on Foreign Relations:

Well, if that scenario evolves than I think it's obvious that we would have to leave because -- if it was an elected government of Iraq, and we've been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government then I think we would have other challenges, but I don't see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.

I just checked the McCain campaign website, and so far, he hasn't announced today that he will respect the sovereign government of Iraq, and adjust his Iraq policy to include a timeline for bringing troops home.

Well, maybe he said something but it wasn't on the website yet?

According to theWashington Post:

"McCain was silent on the comments Monday."

So the potential commander-in-chief has no answer to the prime minister of Iraq. Not even like, "Hey, Nouri, Roger that."

While McCain refused to answer questions on Iraq, today, his top foreign policy advisor said:

"Senator McCain has always said that conditions on the ground -- including the security threats posed by extremists and terrorists, and the ability of Iraqi forces to meet those threats -- would be key determinants in U.S. force levels."

That, my friends (as Senator McCain would say), is a flip flop. It is a major policy reversal. Saying "conditions on the ground" will determine when you start to bring troops home is an indefinite commitment, not a timeline with a goal for redeployment. And, McCain's lack of consistency or clarity of vision on Iraq is trickling down. I was on Hardball just a short time ago with Pete Hegseth, my counterpart and Iraq War veteran who runs Vets for Freedom.



Did you catch that? In one short segment, Pete took two positions on Iraq. He was against timelines at the beginning of the segment, but was OK with timelines at the end of the segment.

This is not the way to formulate policy on Iraq, and if in the White House, this kind of waffling on the major issue of our time from McCain would have disastrous consequences. When you send a signal to a foreign nation that you will leave their land when asked, you better do it, when asked. If not, you only bolster the notion that you are an occupier, and the idea that the only way to get rid of us is with deadly force.

John McCain's silence on the issue is severely troubling -- it's as if he doesn't know what to do now. His advisor saying McCain will stick to his guns -- Iraqi wishes be damned -- is a flip flop from his previous position. Combined, it is a very bleak and discouraging view of what a McCain administration would look like on what is, supposedly, his biggest strength.

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