A few days ago, John McCain challenged Barack Obama to visit Iraq with him. McCain charged that, since Obama had not been there for a couple of years, he was unqualified to assess the situation. But McCain’s criticism descended into condescension and allegations of weak resolve:
McCain: “He really has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq and he has wanted to surrender for a long time,”
This seems to be a hollow complaint coming from a fellow who’s been to Iraq a half dozen times but still fails to make a correct assessment of it, and who has no problem with another 100 years of occupation. In addition to the fact that McCain’s invitation was no more than a publicity stunt, security experts agree that the Secret Service would never sanction such a trip. And if they did, what would the travelers find?
Michael Ware, a CNN reporter who has lived in Iraq for most of the past five years gives his take on the value of such visits:
Ware: And let’s not forget what do American officials get to see?
Well, they get to see the rooftops of a lot of Iraqi houses as they chopper over them or across vast expanses of desert. They get to see rooms in the inside of U.S. bases in the Green Zone, both of which are divorced from reality. And they’ll get inundated with military briefings.
Now, in these briefings, in the past, officials have been told the insurgency was in its death throes, there was no civil war, that Iranian influence wasn’t that big a problem, that Al Qaeda had been defeated. I mean, you really aren’t going to get much of a real picture. It’s almost by definition impossible.
On a previous visit to Iraq, McCain returned with the delusional impression that…
“…there are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today.”
On that occasion McCain showed up in Baghdad wearing a Kevlar vest, with an entourage of 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships. The absurdity of this manufactured photo-op prompted Ware to remark at the time:
“I don’t know what part of Neverland Senator McCain is talking about when he says we can go strolling in Baghdad.”
McCain will first have to return from his junket to Neverland, where he appears to have taken up residence, before he can go to Iraq with Obama.