by Kristin Simpson and Alyssa Keninger
A commercial paid for by the Democratic National Committee claims that McCain’s policy is to stay in Iraq for 50, or maybe even 100, years. But on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” McCain said his opponents were taking his quote out of context.
The commercial, called “100 Years” and featured by the Museum of the Moving Image, begins with the voice of an unidentified journalist asking, “President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years?” McCain is then quoted as saying, “Maybe a hundred” and “That’d be fine with me.” “5 Years, $500 Billion Spent, Over 4,000 Dead” is flashed in text. The question and McCain’s first response are repeated, followed by a statement by a male narrator: “If all he offers is more of the same, is John McCain the right choice for America’s future?” The latter part of that question is also displayed in text, accompanied by a statement saying the ad was paid for by the Democratic National Committee.
At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire in January of 2008, McCain answered a crowd member’s question about a Bush statement that troops could stay in Iraq for 50 years. “Maybe 100,” McCain said. “As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day.” According to CNN, McCain later defended his statement by saying he was referring to a military presence similar to what the nation already has in places like Japan, Germany and South Korea. He also said that any long-term troop presence in Iraq would be based on an agreement with the Iraqi government.
ABC News claims that McCain had shrugged off the attacks by his opponents on his “100 years” statement. “As we know, all’s fair in politics,” he said in Aurora, Ill. “But the fact is as everybody knows, and the media who follows me and spends a lot of time with me knows, I was talking about after the war is over.” He went on to defend his statement in Columbus, Ohio, saying, “The point is the surge is succeeding. We can bring our troops home with honor and we can bring them all home or we can have an arrangement, a security arrangement [with Iraq] much along the lines that we have with other countries.”
Although he has refrained from creating a specific timetable for withdrawing troops, arguing that timetables should be set in private discussions among Iraqi and American leaders, McCain he has made a statement on his plans should he assume the presidency. According to The New York Times, he said in May that most American troops would be home from Iraq by 2013 and that the nation would be a functioning democracy with only “spasmodic” episodes of violence. However, after his comment about the projection for 2013, McCain and his aides stressed that his remarks should not be interpreted as a timetable for withdrawal. Instead, McCain insists that he was simply projecting a victory, saying, “I am certainly not putting a date on it.”
Since McCain’s statement, Obama has said that McCain had not given a clear definition of success in Iraq. McCain rebutted by saying Obama “displays a fundamental misunderstanding of history and how we’ve maintained national security, and what we need to do in the future to maintain our security in the face of the transcendent challenge of radical Islamic extremism. And I understand that because he has no experience or background in any of it.”
Whether or not Obama has experience or background in the issue, he does have a plan for Iraq, which includes residual forces similar to those of McCain. The first step in Obama’s plan is to end the war. The removal of troops will take place in phases and will be in consultation with the Iraqi government. Unlike McCain, he gives a specific timetable for withdrawal. According to Obama’s website, military experts believe the U.S. can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of one to two brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010—more than seven years after the war began. The site goes on to say, “Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.”
According to Fox News, in March of 2008 Obama said that the difference between his and McCain’s plans lies in the length of time. “What I said was I would have a strike force in the region, perhaps in Iraq, perhaps outside Iraq so we could take advantage of or we could deal with potential problems that might take place in the region,” Obama said. “That’s very different from saying we'd have a permanent occupation in Iraq. And it’s certainly different from saying we would have a high level of combat troops inside Iraq for a decade or two decades or, as John McCain said, perhaps 100 years.” However, Obama has acknowledged the U.S. has maintained forces in South Korea as well as other places for extended periods, which McCain supporters say is proof of Obama twisting McCain’s words.
So yes, McCain wants to stay in Iraq, possibly for 100 years. But he doesn’t want to stay there in the manner he has been accused of. It all amounts to an implied falsehood by the Democratic National Committee and Barack Obama. By saying McCain’s policy is to stay in Iraq for 100 years, they are implying he wants to continue waging war for 100 years. And that’s not what McCain said. McCain wants to keep residual forces (much like Obama’s) in Iraq to maintain the peace, similar to the U.S. forces that remained in places after WWII. McCain and Obama agree on one thing: the notion of residual forces in Iraq does not necessarily mean keeping the war going for another century.
The lesson? Investigate extreme claims. When McCain said he wanted to stay in Iraq for 50, maybe even 100, years, what did he mean? Creating a message by twisting someone else’s words is an implied falsehood—a way to confuse the public without flat-out lying. Both sides pick a statement and then take it out of context to attack their opponents. And if you only listen to opponents’ side of the statement, you miss out on the real meaning, and the "full story."
Friday, October 31, 2008
by Kristin Simpson and Alyssa Keninger
Posted by Kedron Bardwell at 8:59 AM