MY VIEW/Richard Cranwell – Virginia’s 6,000 troops in Iraq


Even as rockets exploded in the so-called “Green Zone” yesterday in Baghdad, a day before General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testify before Congress on the Iraq war, John McCain chose to launch another round of irresponsible political attacks rather than offer a real plan for the future in Iraq. 

The attack came even though a majority of Americans want our troops to begin withdrawing and 89 percent of Americans think the cost of the war has contributed to the economic problems in our country. [New York Times, 4/4/08]

Adopting George W. Bush’s penchant for cherry-picking the facts and misleading the American people is the wrong approach. With nearly 6,000 troops from Virginia already having been deployed, John McCain needs to tell Virginia families exactly what his plan is for Iraq going forward.

In his Kansas City remarks yesterday McCain failed to tell us whether or not he agrees with General Petraeus’ concerns that Iraq’s leaders aren’t making the political progress the surge was supposed to make possible. McCain also never explained what he would do to encourage that critical political progress.

And while his campaign continues to backtrack from his willingness to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years, McCain himself refused to say whether he plans to build permanent bases in Iraq.

And, despite the tremendous economic cost of the war, McCain has yet to tell us how he plans to pay for his stay the course strategy in Iraq while making President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy permanent – a prescription for trillions of dollars in new debt. 

The American people know that 100 years is not a plan, and that a Commander-in-Chief has to explain not just what he’ll do in Iraq, but also how we’re going to take care of an already overextended army and National Guard. If Virginia voters can’t count on a plan from McCain while he’s running for President, what should they expect if he were to become President?

Cranwell is the Democratic Party of Virginia’s chairman.