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McCain, Back from Iraq (Again)


I just got back from a journalists’ lunch hosted by Senator McCain. While in Iraq he got a briefing from General Petraeus, whom he describes as “upbeat but cautious.” Petraeus thinks that there might be an uptick in violence coming as a result of al Qaeda’s desperation. McCain notes that corruption and the lack of political progress are continuing problems. “Whoever designed that government ought to be taken out and shot,” he said, referring to the large number of Iraqi ministries. Morale among our troops seems high to him, and he notes that they follow the American political debates about Iraq policy closely.

He thinks public opinion is shifting a little bit in favor of keeping our troops in Iraq. “I do not detect a sense of euphoria,” he adds. He disagrees with those who complain that Americans lack staying power. They gave the administration four years, after all. “The American people were remarkably patient when you think about it.” He thinks being associated with the surge is an advantage for him. “John Edwards used to call it ‘the McCain strategy.’ . . . He doesn’t any more. I wish he would.”

If there is no political progress over the next three months or so, McCain said, “some very tough calls would have to be made.”


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