It didn’t work, as we all know by now, on its own utopian terms. It did help us get out with less humiliation. But McCain still insists he was right about everything from the get-go:
The good news is that we almost got a real debate on this question. Not exactly, because describing the “surge” as a p.r. exercize to disguise the complete failure of the Iraq War is not something Washington can yet cop to – just as it has great difficulty copping to the fact that the last president was and is a war criminal, under the strictest legal definition of that term.
But Hagel is right: without the switch in Anbar and the exhaustion of ethnic segregation and warfare, those extra troops could have been there indefinitely – and, if McCain had won in 2008, would be there still most likely. What’s striking to me is not McCain’s fury or douchiness (what’s new?) – but his complete assumption that he couldn’t possibly be wrong, his insistence that this debate is already over, and his refusal to allow for the notion that this question may only eventually be resolved by a more distant historical judgment.
After Iraq and Afghanistan, McCain’s views on military intervention have not changed. Hagel’s have. Somehow, I think Hagel is closer to where the country actually is.