Sen. John McCain has an interesting op-ed in today’s WaPo on “Why We Must Win” in Iraq.

Iraq’s transformation into a progressive Arab state could set the region that produced Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, and al Qaeda on a new course in which democratic expression and economic prosperity, rather than a radicalizing mix of humiliation, poverty and repression, define a modernity in the Muslim world that does not express itself in ways that threaten its people or other nations. Conversely, a forced U.S. retreat from Iraq would be the most serious American defeat since Vietnam.

America’s mission in Iraq is too important to fail. Given the stakes, we cannot launch this “generational commitment” to changing the Middle East on the cheap. The administration should level with the American people about the cost and commitment required to transform Iraq.

Americans must understand how important this mission is and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve it. Without an intensive campaign now to explain what is at stake and absent the necessary political and financial commitment, we raise the potential for a defeat that will deal a lasting blow to American interests and freedom’s progress.

Having liberated Iraq, we must demonstrate the tangible benefits of occupation, which the Iraqi silent majority will tolerate if it successfully delivers services, law and order and a transition to Iraqi rule. The danger is that our failure to improve daily life, security, and Iraqis’ participation in their own governance will erode their patience and fuel insurrection.

This reasoning and indeed language is almost identical to that used by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol in a panel at the APSA yesterday. This isn’t surprising, since Kristol was a McCain advisor in 2000 and preferred him to Bush, as he reminded the audience yesterday.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Middle East, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rick DeMent says:

    While many like to speculate on what a Gore presidency would have been like I have always been more interested in what a McCain presidency would have been like. I think McCain would have been a lot less divisive in certain respects.

  2. Paul says:

    Divisive to whom?