Barack Obama - “Now, all of us recognize that we must do more than look back - we must make a judgment about how to move forward. What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done? Senator McCain wants to talk of our tactics in Iraq; I want to focus on a new strategy for Iraq and the wider world.”
This is the crux of Obama’s Iraq problem. He doesn’t want to look back, but he has based his campaign on his original statement against the Iraq War; yet he’s shown no particular incite since that initial decision. Senator Obama doesn’t want Senator McCain to discuss tactics because Senator McCain has been tactically correct, while Senator Obama has demonstrated zero understanding of military tactics.
The Obama strategy for months has been to tie Senator McCain to President Bush and the Iraq War. However, this simplistic approach ignores historical realities. Senator McCain bucked his party, and the president, and called for Donald Rumsfeld’s removal as Secretary of Defense. Then he angered people on both sides of the aisle by pushing for the surge/counterinsurgency strategy. Remember it was a Democrat that labeled the surge ‘the McCain Doctrine’ as Source Watch notes,
The "surge" has also been called the McCain doctrine, a label coined by John Edwards to describe a proposed surge in troop levels and escalation of the war in Iraq named after its "chief advocate", Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).Senator McCain did not just sign on to the president’s war strategy; he was one of the leaders that pushed the president to adopt the counterinsurgency strategy. He made a stand that was considered political suicide; he pushed for an unpopular strategy having just seriously criticized the president’s Secretary of Defense.
On the campaign trail he and Senator Biden were the only candidates in either party giving details about Iraq. They voiced their opinion and took questions from frequently skeptical audiences. While their views were different; they both should be commended for directly addressing the most pressing issue of the day in a direct and honest manner.
While progress was slow it did come, and it came due to the counterinsurgency strategy. Some people hesitate to accept this success because they are angry that we even went to war, or are unwilling to accept progress due to their anger at the president and the myriad of mistakes made on his watch. However, this isn’t about the president, or the candidates for that matter. People’s lives hang in the balance; the decisions made by the next president will determine the fate of many people of whom most of us will never know. Like it or not, we are a country at war, and looking forward is incredibly important. Choosing a candidate who understands war, the military, tactics, and strategy is vital. Senator McCain may not be everybody’s first choice, but he fits the bill for commander-in-chief at this particular point in history.