Tonight Harry Reid and his minions are going through the stupid charade of an all-night “debate” on Iraq. It won’t be much of a debate, of course, as the Democrats’ minds are made up: in their eyes, the surge was a failure before it even began. Earlier today, John McCain released a statement that puts the Dems, and the handful of wobbly Republicans who may vote with them, to shame. It doesn’t seem to have been widely reported, but you can read the whole thing at the Candidates’ Forum and let McCain know what you think.
McCain’s statement is lengthy, and you probably won’t see it anywhere except the Forum. It is, I think, the definitive statement of where we are now and where we need to go in Iraq. Here are a few excerpts:
Let us keep in the front of our minds the likely consequences of premature withdrawal from Iraq. Many of my colleagues would like to believe that, should the withdrawal amendment we are currently debating become law, it would mark the end of this long effort. They are wrong. Should the Congress force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, it would mark a new beginning, the start of a new, more dangerous, and more arduous effort to contain the forces unleashed by our disengagement.
No matter where my colleagues came down in 2003 about the centrality of Iraq to the war on terror, there can simply be no debate that our efforts in Iraq today are critical to the wider struggle against violent Islamic extremism. Already, the terrorists are emboldened, excited that America is talking not about winning in Iraq, but is rather debating when we should lose.
Mr. President, the terrorists are in this war to win it. The question is: Are we?
The supporters of this amendment respond that they do not by any means intend to cede the battlefield to al Qaeda; on the contrary, their legislation would allow U.S. forces, presumably holed up in forward operating bases, to carry out targeted counterterrorism operations. But our own military commanders say that this approach will not succeed, and that moving in with search and destroy missions to kill and capture terrorists, only to immediately cede the territory to the enemy, is the failed strategy of the past three and a half years.
Mr. President, this fight is about Iraq but not about Iraq alone. It is greater than that and more important still, about whether America still has the political courage to fight for victory or whether we will settle for defeat, with all of the terrible things that accompany it. We cannot walk away gracefully from defeat in this war.
Mr. President, right now, as we continue our debate on the war in Iraq, American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen are fighting bravely and tenaciously in battles that are as dangerous, difficult and consequential as the great battles of our armed forces