John McCain sent George W. Bush a private letter on December 12, 2006, urging the President to increase troop strength in Iraq by 20,000. That letter has just been made public, and it is a remarkable testament to McCain’s courage and foresight: Here’s the Washington Times:
“The question is one of will more than capacity,” wrote the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If we are not willing to provide the troops necessary for victory, however, victory itself will be impossible.”
Mr. McCain, whose letter is made public here for the first time, added that “surging five additional brigades into Baghdad by March” was the answer.
Mr. Bush, who had resisted Mr. McCain’s call for a troop surge for years, now praises him for persisting in his argument that expanding the war in Iraq was the way to win it.
“John recognized early on that more troops would be needed in order to achieve the security necessary for the Iraqis to make the political progress we’re seeing now,” the president told The Washington Times this week.
“He supported that action even though many said it would hurt his campaign [for president]. He didn’t care about popularity; he cared about success for our troops and our country. And now that the surge has worked, it proves that John’s judgment was correct.”
McCain’s first recognition of the need for more troops goes all the way back to the summer of 2003.
Mr. McCain’s opinion changed on that first trip [to Iraq.] The campaign to oust Saddam Hussein and neutralize Iraq’s military had been won, but the peace was at risk because of an insurgency that, fueled in part by Iran and Syria, had quickly materialized.
The insurgents were gaining. “I think there’s a danger that unless we do what’s necessary quickly, that we could find ourselves in an extremely – and I emphasize extremely – difficult situation,” he said Aug. 29 in an interview on National Public Radio. “We need more troops.”
Not only was McCain not in lockstep with George W. Bush on Iraq strategy (as the Democrats would have us believe), but it’s very likely that the course of the entire war would have looked drastically different if the McCain plan was heeded early on by the President. We’ll just have to see if Americans can find it in their hearts to overlook his real estate holdings.