Maverick John McCain is a maverick no more, having fallen in line behind Gauleiter Von Trump and sampled the heady Trump wine that takes you to a world that never was and never will be. Yesterday, echoing his new master, the one-time Navy hero told reporters President Obama was “directly responsible” for the 49 murders in Orlando because he pulled American troops out of Iraq instead of attacking ISIL in Syria.
That stunning statement from the former pilot and chief of the Straight Talk Express soon brought another reporter forward with a follow-up question: Did he really mean President Obama was “directly responsible” for the tragedy?
Senator McCain, appearing edgy and irritated, doubled down on his earlier charge, and blamed the President for not intervening in the Syrian Civil War. (On which of the many sides, he did not say.) Not prudent, apparently. Rather quickly McCain tweeted that he had twice earlier “misspoke.” “To clarify, I was referring to Pres Obama’s national security decisions that have led to the rise of ISIL, not to the president himself.”
Oh, that almost clears it up. Instead of deciding as Obama did, he should have done what in Syria? Your usual solution? Invade a broken, chaotic state? American boots on the ground?
No time or space here to lay all the blame for what is arguably the greatest foreign policy failure in the nation’s history, the Iraq war and the rise of ISIS. But a few obvious facts should be noted.
1. McCain voted for President George W. Bush’s Iraq War; Obama did not.
2. Bush was president, not Obama, when the Status of Forces Agreement was signed that called for American troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. Our presence was up to them, and they said get out. And Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the ignorant Shiite hardliner Bush assisted in leading a fractured Iraq, could have had some American troops remain if he had the courage to convince his own parliament of the need.
3. ISIL, an offshoot Al Queda of Syria, did not exist in Iraq before Bush’s invasion of 2003; Saddam Hussein would not allow an Al Queda presence. Saddam’s defeat, and the retreat west of angry, well-armed, disenfranchised Sunnis toward already turbulent Syria, provided a ready-made fighting force to humiliate the inept Shiites at every turn.
4. Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter, was born in America of Afghani parents, and not known to have had any formal connection to any terrorist group abroad, though he saluted them all at his inglorious end...perhaps trying to earn some kudos after the fact.
The question that remains unanswered is why McCain called attention to himself in such a clumsy way, doubled down, and then backtracked? Is Trump rattling him, as he has so many other Republicans? Is he losing what Trump never had—a mind? We’ll soon know. (I am going out on a limb and predicting an upset in Arizona this November: Anne Kirkpatrick over the tarnished hero.)