Senator McCain, how much is Iraq worth?
Last week, B Rational had a set of questions concerning Obama's position on Iraq might be if his opinion on Iraq; specifically, what Obama would do if he changed his mind regarding the state of Iraqi capability. My return questions concern the apparent contradictory nature of Senator's McCain's position.
For some background, here are several statements that McCain has made:
1) He has stated that if he were president the US military would not depart until achieving "Victory with Honor"
2) He has stated that knowing what he knows now, he would still have supported the invasion and
3) His spokesman has confirmed that if asked to leave by the Iraqi government, the U.S. would do so.
Several top generals have stated on the record that Iraq is wearing our armed forces down to the breaking point. This is especially true concerning the Reserve and National Guard components, but also the active Army. The economic and diplomatic costs of the war also continue to mount.
So, the questions that I have for Senator McCain and his supporters are:
1) How does McCain define victory? So far, the only explanation I have seen is that it will be based upon the determination by the commanders on the ground. Is this truly the extent of McCain’s definition of victory? As commander in chief would he actually delegate the very goals of war over to the military?
2) Does he consider the war/battle in Iraq a war/battle of choice? If not, why would the Iraqi government government be given a veto power over our ability to wage it?
Note: I am specifically separating the War in Iraq from any other larger context. If he (or his supporters) view a regional cultural war as the larger backdrop, then the question decomposes to
Is this larger context existential or of choice?
If the former, is the Iraqi 'front' necessary/critical in order to win this larger war?
3) To what extent is McCain willing to damage the US in order to achieve this victory in Iraq?
For example, is a pyrrhic victory where the US achieves victory with their last troop standing and an economy in shambles acceptable?
If not, how many troops is this victory worth? How many Iraqi civilians?
How many dollars, in both direct cost and opportunity cost in damage to the economy is this victory worth?
What is the maximum amount of time a recovery of our military would require before the cost of a staying would be too high?
4) If there were a higher priority crisis somewhere else in the world (at home or abroad) that required us to leave Iraq before achieving victory, would McCain reverse his promise and leave without honorable victory?
5) If McCain came to believe that raising taxes would speed up this victory or lower the damage done to achieve this victory, would he do so?
6) If McCain came to believe that this victory was not possible, would he reverse his promise and bring home the troops without honorable victory?
Based on the answers, I'll almost certainly have some follow up