Senator John McCain should mind what he’s wishing for: he might get it.
Of all declared or presumed 2008 presidential contenders, McCain has been the only one who called for increased military presence in Iraq. Up until now, this idea was so unpopular that the chances of it to be acted upon were all but nonexistent.
This provided McCain with certain advantages. Should the situation in Iraq completely deteriorate comes Election Day, McCain, a staunch supporter of the war, could claim that his favorite prescription for “winning” – sending more combat troops to the war zone – was never tried.
Now, McCain’s gambit may backfire. Pointedly rejecting the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and acting against the wishes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Bush made public his plan to add 15,000-30,000 more troops to the current 140,000 Iraqi contingent – in charge of a mission that is yet to be defined.
It is totally unclear why in the absence of a comprehensive political solution simply adding 10 to 15 per cent to the existing troop levels should change conditions on the ground, except increasing – 10 to 15 percent – the number of American casualties, which will only re-energize public opposition to the war.
McCain’s whole credibility as presidential candidate with strong national security credentials may thus become hostage of the Bush administration’s ability — or inability – to plan and execute troop redeployments.
And if the past performance is any indicator of future success, McCain should know that he’s in real trouble.