THE BLOG

Never Surrender! Never?

06/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This week Senator McCain gave an important speech laying out his vision to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons which was interrupted by several anti-war protesters. It was his response to those protesters where McCain showed his true self, not his ideas on reducing nuclear weapons.

When he said, "Let me tell you something. I will never surrender in Iraq my friend. Never surrender", what did he mean by "Never"? And probably even more importantly, what does he mean by "Surrender"? Below is a series of questions he did not answer and which highlight the fact that one should never say never.

Does he mean that even if we need to pull troops out of Iraq to keep the U.S. military from breaking under the strain of multiple deployments, he will never pull out? Never? Does he mean that since we will have a hard time tackling another threat since we only have one ready reserve battalion combat team in the United States, that he will never pull troops out of Iraq? Never? Does he mean that even if the threat from Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region means that a country with nuclear weapons is under threat of falling to a Taliban like insurgency that he never pull out troops from Iraq? Never? If there is another natural disaster in the U.S. and the fact that none of our National Guard units are fully equipped due to the needs of the ongoing war in Iraq they will not be able to respond properly, will he never pull troops out to protect the homeland? Never? If the need to respond to a threat from a rogue nation like North Korea or to help our allies like Israel means we need to pull troops out of Iraq, will he never pull them out? Never?

So the only possibility of bring our troops home is complete victory? i.e. the opposite of "Surrender". What would this look like? When do we reach this momentous milestone? Is it reachable? Should we even attempt to achieve it? Most importantly, does achieving it make us more secure and stronger as a nation?

When he says no to surrender, does he mean that we need to stay there for 100 years ? Do we have to stay in Iraq until it is a functioning multi-ethnic flourishing democracy? How long would that take?

The problem with Sen. McCain's statement, is that it leaves no room for any other possibility. Does he really believe that this is the last fight we will face? That if we just stay long enough, everything will work out - not just in Iraq, but in the region and around the world? McCain's path is one of isolation. Isolation from our allies who we need, and enemies with whom we need convert.

Given the complexity of the threats we face, from pandemic diseases, global climate change, and of course terrorism, the U.S. can simply not afford to go it alone. We must work with others if we are to succeed.