The Spectacle Blog

Clark and McCain’s Judgment

By on 7.1.08 | 10:44AM

Wesley Clark defended his criticism of John McCain in a statement that concludes, "as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues."

For years, McCain argued that more troops and a better strategy would improve conditions in Iraq and he tied his political fortunes to the success of the surge -- and his judgment has been vindicated.

But back when the surge was announced in January of 2007, Clark wrote in an op-ed for the Independent that the surge would backfire:

What the surge would do, however, is put more American troops in harm's way, further undercut US forces' morale, and risk further alienation of elements of the Iraqi populace. American casualties would probably rise, at least temporarily, as more troops are on the streets; we saw this when the brigade from Alaska was extended and sent into Baghdad last summer. And even if the increased troop presence initially intimidates or frustrates the contending militias, it won't be long before they find ways to work around the obstacles to movement and neighbourhood searches, if they are still intent on pursuing the conflict. All of this is not much of an endorsement for a troop surge that will impose real pain on the already overstretched US forces....

The truth is that, however brutal the fighting in Iraq for our troops, the underlying problems are political. Vicious ethnic cleansing is under way right under the noses of our troops, as various factions fight for power and survival. In this environment security is unlikely to come from smothering the struggle with a blanket of forces - it cannot be smothered easily, for additional US efforts can stir additional resistance - but rather from more effective action to resolve the struggle at the political level.

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