I don't like to do political posts at BlackFive (though I do them at my own site), but as von Clausewitz notes, the political is a major factor in warfighting. Sometimes we have to try to get things straight.
Joel Klein swipes at Sen. McCain:
The reality is that neither Barack Obama nor Nouri al-Maliki nor most anybody else believes that the Iraq war can be "lost" at this point.
Welcome aboard! (Emphasis added.) As I recall, up until about late April, 'everyone' believed the Surge had failed and al Sadr was going to take over the world. Greyhawk declared the war was won in the fall (and he was there -- I know, because I was there with him). Michael Yon declared it was won last week, which seems to have rung the bell for the major media. Suddenly, 'anybody knows' the war 'cannot be lost.'
This is an astonishing turnaround by the major media, and one they simply don't want to acknowledge. That very refusal is the issue with Klein and Sen. McCain. What Sen. McCain said to which Klein objected was that Sen. Obama would rather lose a war than a presidential campaign. Klein says that Sen. Obama knows the war cannot be lost; but McCain was referring to Sen. Obama's rejection of the Surge in hindsight. What Sen. McCain is saying is that Sen. Obama is admitting that he wouldn't have done what it took to win the war, even with the benefit of hindsight knowledge.
One could say that this was an act of principle on Sen. Obama's part: that he simply rejects the Iraq war, and has always wanted to get us out of it at any cost. However, that's just not true. As Richard Fernandez points out, in 2005 Sen. Obama strongly rejected troop withdrawals -- at a period precisely coinciding with an Iraqi land deal in which Tony Rezko, a longtime donor currently in prison on Federal corruption charges, had an interest. (Rezko was also a chief contractor in then-Mr. Obama's housing initiatives in Chicago -- a partnership which produced an unlivable slum according to the Boston Globe.)
Of course, if Mr. Klein objects to Sen. McCain saying that Sen. Obama would rather lose a war than a campaign, he will likely also object strongly to the suggestion that Sen. Obama abandoned his principles on Iraq because a contributor had money at stake. It is a strong charge, even to raise the possibility that such a thing might be true: so let's look at another example.
Review for a moment what we at BlackFive like to call the "Spitballs" speech:
Now, most of you are aware that Sen. Obama requested a million-dollar earmark for his wife's hospital (shortly after her salary was tripled, a pure concidence according to the hospital; and surely supporting hospitals is a good and honorable thing that the Senator was going to do anyway). What is more interesting about that earmark list, though, is that it contains tens of millions of dollars in earmarks for defense contractors. Watch the video again, review the list, and ask yourself: why are these contractors exempt from his strongly-felt principles? What do they have in common?
So, when Mr. Fernandez suggests that it might be possible that Tony Rezko had something to do with Sen. Obama's radical shift on Iraq in 2005, I'd have to say he might be right. There's no proof, of course: just evidence.
As for Sen. McCain's statement: it is now a matter of record that taking the war from "lost" to 'anybody knows it can't be lost' isn't reason enough for Sen. Obama to endorse the Surge, even in hindsight. (They say "victory has a thousand fathers," but to Sen. Obama, the Surge is a bastard.) It is also a matter of record that Sen. Obama did support doing what it took to win in 2005.
Perhaps there was something -- what's the word? -- "scurrilous" in Sen. Obama's reasoning, and perhaps there wasn't. I can't see into the man's heart, of course; I can only point to what he's advocated, and what he's earmarked. If he has a good explanation for how those things line up with his principles, I'm sure we'd all be glad to hear it.
Sen. McCain, however, is not the one who should stand accused of playing games with Iraq. I've long had problems with Sen. McCain on domestic issues, but he has certainly been consistent and wise on this matter.