John McCain revealed today that he has no plan -- none -- to get us out of the mess the president has created. Senator McCain said that it is important for presidential candidates to "define their objectives and what they plan to achieve not with vague language but with clarity." But especially when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan, the picture he painted today of where he hopes to be by 2013 is totally divorced from reality and there is zero clarity about how he would get there. It's beyond being vague: John McCain is totally silent about how he would realize his rosy vision for 2013.
It's like saying by 2013, every American will be a millionaire and there will be peace on earth. Wishing will not make it so. The last things Americans need now are empty promises. They need, and our security demands, a concrete plan of action that brings the war in Iraq to an end without leaving chaos behind.
In his speech, Senator McCain says that by 2013, "the Iraq war has been won." How? What's the strategy?
He says "Iraq [will be] a functioning democracy." It certainly isn't now -- what's his place from getting us from here to there?
He says "civil war has been prevented, militias disbanded, the Iraqi security force is professional and competent." But not a word on his strategy to actually prevent civil war, disband the militia or train the security forces.
He says "the government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq." Right now, it can't even impose its authority through all of Baghdad and there is little trust within the government, of the government by the people and no capacity by the government to deliver basic security or services. So how do we get from here to there? Senator McCain is silent.
At the same time, Senator McCain says that in 2013: "the threat from a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan has been greatly reduced... U.S. and NATO forces remain there to help finish the job and continuing operations against the remnants of al Qaeda."
Exactly how will we have any chance of winning in Afghanistan and defeating al Qaeda if we keep 140,000 troops in Iraq for another three or four years? Senator McCain doesn't say because he can't.
The fact is, when I visited Afghanistan in February, General McNeil, who commands the international force, told me that with two extra combat brigades -- about 10,000 soldiers -- he could turn around the security situation in the south, where the Taliban is on the move. But he can't get them because of Iraq.
Even when we do pull troops out of Iraq, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, says he would want to send them home for a year to rest and retrain before sending them to Afghanistan. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more we put off the day when we fully join the fight against the real al Qaeda threat and finally defeat those who attacked America seven years ago.
Today's speech is further proof that when it comes to Iraq, there is no daylight between John McCain and George W. Bush. They are joined at the hip. When it comes to Iraq, there will be no change with a McCain administration and so there is a real and profound choice for Americans in November.