I was very disappointed.
Speaking before the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank that shaped much of the Bush administration's policy, McCain called on the present administration to change its strategy in Iraq. One might think McCain's calling for a move in the right direction until one takes a good look at the direction McCain wants to take.
Instead of focusing on killing and capturing insurgents, he said the Pentagon should protect local populations to create "secure areas where insurgents find it difficult to operate" and areas where "civil society can emerge" through reconstruction and political progress.
McCain's actually talking about the "oil spot" counterinsurgency strategy that Professor Andrew F. Krepinevich wrote about in the October 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs.
McCain agrees with many of Krepinevich's strategic tenets. An "oil spot" approach will require more troops, produce higher casualties, and take an unpredictable amount of time.
What both McCain and Krepinevich neglect to mention is that the "oil spot" theory is nearly identical to the "strategic hamlet" approach we used in Vietnam, and those of us over the age of 45 remember clearly how well that worked out.
And one would think that McCain, of all people, would remember it too.
I don't care to speculate on Mister McCain's motives here, but he's not offering anything that's significantly different from Mister Bush's "stay the course."
And McCain's "course" could go on for so long there's no reason to expect that it will produce better results than we would have had if we'd simply sat back and waited for Saddam Hussein to die of old age.
Under plans like McCain's America will pour another ten or twenty years of national treasure into Mesopotamia while the other major powers (China and the European Union) and the balance powers (England, Japan, Russia) sit on the sidelines. And have a jolly old time watching America turn itself into a fallen empire.
Focusing our efforts in Iraq was the single greatest mistake in the conduct of our Global War on Terror, one that Bush and McCain both seem determined to continue to make.
The key to "winning" this war is convincing the major and balance powers that it is in everyone's interest (Realpolitik) to contain the Middle East and wean themselves from dependence on the oil reserves in that region.
Doing so will not be a military undertaking. It will require America to learn to effectively wield other instruments of national power like diplomacy and economy.
Lamentably, I don't expect that to happen under the Bush administration.
And in light of yesterday's speech, I don't see it happening under a McCain administration either.