Greg Sargent is right that:
The inescapable fact is this: On the biggest and most consequential decision, Obama got it right, and McCain got it wrong.
But it is actually more than this. When contrasting Obama and McCain -- it is not the same as contrasting say Hillary Clinton and John Edwards with Obama. Clinton, Edwards, etc. voted and supported the war, but they weren't advocates for it. In other words, it wasn't their idea, and there is little question that if president neither Edwards, nor Clinton, nor Biden, would have invaded Iraq.
But this is not the case with John McCain. While he presents himself as a war critic and a reluctant war supporter, the fact is that if McCain were president there is no doubt we would have invaded Iraq.
McCain was not just a supporter of the war, but was perhaps the most vocal advocate of invading Iraq in the congress. He was a sponsor of the 1998 Iraq liberation act, he called repeatedly for invading Iraq in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and, as
this remarkable Economist piece noted, invading Iraq and the concept
of the axis of evil were ideas inspired from John McCain's rogue state rollback foreign policy in 2000. For John McCain there was no decision to invade Iraq because it was his idea in the first place.
But he did not just agree with the principle of taking out Saddam, he was a supporter and advocate of the entire Bush administration approach toward Iraq. From linking bin Laden to Saddam, to disregarding allies and the UN in favor of a "coalition of the willing," to supporting Rumsfeld's military approach that relied on high tech weaponry in favor of boots on the ground, to believing that Chalabi could simply be installed as Iraq's leader allowing U.S. troops to come home (or begin targeting others) almost immediately.
This doesn't simply represent bad judgment. It represents someone who possessed a completely bankrupt view of the world.
See more evidence below:
On Supporting Rumsfeld's Military Approach:
"I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in
the past... I don't believe it's going to be nearly the size and scope
that it was in 1991." [CBS, Face the Nation, 9/15/02]
When asked if he thought the draft might be reinstated, Senator McCain
answered: "...I believe that the kind of technology and the kind of
military that we have today doesn't require massive numbers of troops.
You might have noticed the conflict in Afghanistan, we had a few
soldiers on the ground and used very incredibly accurate air power."
[MSNBC, Hardball, 10/16/02]
"We're much improved. They have never restored their military
capability that they had at that time. Our technology, particularly
air-to-ground technology is vastly improved. I don't think you're going
to have to see the scale of numbers of troops that we saw, nor the
length of the buildup, obviously, that we had back in 1991." [CNN,
Larry King Live, 12/09/02]
Calling for Attacking Iraq right after 9/11:
"That's where the tough part of this whole scenario is going to begin. And that is that, after the Taliban are overthrown -- which I believe they will be -- I have very little doubt in my mind -- after bin Laden is either taken prisoner or killed and his network is destroyed, then what's next? Obviously, Iraq is still bent on -- Saddam Hussein is still bent on developing weapons of mass destruction. Obviously, the Iranians are still supporting terrorist organizations, as are the Syrians. That's where the tough choices and decisions are going to be made." [MSNBC, Hardball, 10/3/01]
"There are other nations that are sheltering terrorists assisting terrorist organizations and, in the case of Saddam Hussein, developing weapons of mass destruction as quickly as he can. We need to take care of bin Laden and the terrorist network in Afghanistan, and then we have to move on and address other countries." [Fox News, Hannity and Colmes, 11/9/01]