On an afternoon media call Obama advisor Richard Clarke went after John McCain’s judgment on Iraq and Afghanistan. He called the Republican quick draw McCain and said that he was reckless, trigger happy, and discredited.
“When I look at all this it is a little surprising and amazing to me. If you just take the name John McCain off and describe him and what he said, and if I don’t tell you it’s John McCain and if you look at what he said consistently over the last 8 or 9 years and most of us would impartially say that person who I just described in terms of their views was reckless, trigger happy, was discredited was part of the group that got us into the war,” Clarke said.
Clarke said that McCain wanted a war with Iraq before 9/11,“He was before 9/11 calling for doing something militarily about Iraq. Right after 9/11 when the issue was still up in the air when the Bush administration had not yet decided what to do about Iraq. He was part of the group that was pushing the Bush administration hard to go to war in Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11…They were pushing for Ahmed Chalabi to be put in charge of Iraq, even though the CIA was telling anybody would listen that Ahmed Chalabi was a trickster.”
He also said that McCain was wrong on Afghanistan, “The fact of the matter is his judgment which is clearly documented on the record about what to do in Iraq was wrong, and it was wrong when he said that we would have a fairly easy victory in Iraq, and linked to that he was wrong about Afghanistan. He says today that Obama is opposed to the surge that will succeed in Afghanistan. Excuse me. It was Obama who suggested that we put more troops into Afghanistan, and he did that on August 7th not of this year, but of last year, and McCain didn’t come around to that view until rather recently. In fact, McCain had the exact opposite view. He said in 2003, “Nobody in Afghanistan threatens the United States.” Is that the judgment of a foreign policy expert? Is that the record of somebody who has good judgment on these issues?”
Clarke characterized McCain as somebody who is always looking to react with military force, “I think he has consistently been quick draw McCain. On every issue his first instinct is to rattle sabers and look for a military solution. That’s just not somebody who should be questioning anybody’s judgment on national security in my view.”
It is sad that the American people trust an old guy who has his plane shot down four decades ago despite the fact that he has a record of terrible decision making on foreign policy. The image of McCain as a foreign policy expert has been entirely self created. McCain is no more a foreign policy expert than George W. Bush, but elections are about image, and McCain presents the image of a foreign policy expert. The Obama campaign has the option of either bursting that bubble, or adding their own expert to the ticket to negate McCain’s advantage, and I would not be surprised if they ended up doing both.
You can listen to the whole call here