Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain's Counter-inSURGEncy

If you watched Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight (segment posted below in case you missed it), you saw that very sloppy bit of CBS editing from the previous night's blathering interview of John McCain by Katie Couric, arguably the worst anchor outside of Fox News. This is the piece where CBS edited out McCain's major, major gaffe when answering her question about Obama's statement on the "surge" at the expense of inserting in a spiteful and insipid remark about Obama wanting to lose the Iraq war.

You also would have seen McCain trying to explain away his gaffe - which was exposed the night before by Olbermann - about the surge starting nearly a year before it actually started. Check it out:

In McCain's world, a "surge" is synonymous with a counter-insurgency, and that because a counter-insurgency had been underway in Iraq long before the technical "surge" start date, his "surge" had begun long before. Never mind that the term surge is actually a media-propagated euphemism for "escalation" that Bush preferred because it sounded less - invasive.

But I get it now. McCain can sees surge in counter-insurgency, so by his twisted logic, this all makes sense.

Satire aside, I want to make another point here, and this is critical. McCain keeps crediting General (then Col.) McFarland as the genius who thought up the surge, and the media seem to be fine with giving him a pass on this. But the truth is that McFarland adopted the strategy that had been put into successful play in Tal Afar back in 2005 by one Colonel H.R. McMasters, which was to clear, hold, and re-build. In order for this strategy to succeed, you need troops. It took some time, but the idea caught on and was implemented in other parts of Iraq (primarily Baghdad). In order for these types of operations to succeed, an escalation of troops was needed, which is what the rest of us know as "the surge". So it is true that a "clear/hold/rebuild" counter-insurgency strategy had been succeeding long before the Anbar Awakening, this can in no way be confused with a "surge". This strategy is not a surge, but a surge makes a strategy like this more successful.

If McCain had been throwing props to McMasters, then he might have some credibility his idea of a "surge" already happening, but he showed his true colors when he gaffed on CBS. There can be no doubt about it, McCain's old age was showing through. He might have actually been thinking about McMasters's successes in Tal Afar. Instead, he got his timeline confused and implied that the surge had been succeeding before it even started, and tried to support that with events that did actually happen, just not in the order that they actually happened (in this universe at least). By confusing the actual start of the surge (where most surge troops deployed to Baghdad) with the Anbar Awakening, McCain showed that he does not have a solid grasp on what has been going on in Iraq. Then, by trying to explain his screw-up by conflating a counter-insurgency strategy with operational logistics, he showed that he is a liar who will say anything and hope that no one catches him.

McCain says that we don't understand what a surge is. No, we understand. McCain is confused.

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