Sunday, April 15, 2007

Criticism Is Easy; Ideation Is Hard

You gotta give John McCain credit: he's sticking to his guns on Iraq—even as he uses them to shoot down his presidential prospects. In an hourlong interview with the NYT on Iraq, McCain admitted that

he had yet to identify an effective fallback if the current strategy failed.

“I have no Plan B,” Mr. McCain said in an interview. “If I saw that doomsday scenario evolving, then I would try to come up with one. But I cannot give you a good alternative because if I had a good alternative, maybe we could consider it now". . . .

Mr. McCain methodically dismissed as unrealistic every other plan that had been proposed by Democrats as a substitute for President Bush’s strategy, including those from Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Barack Obama of Illinois.

He said that if the Bush administration’s plan had not produced visible signs of progress by the time a McCain presidency began, he might be forced—if only by the will of public opinion—to end American involvement in Iraq.

In other words, McCain concedes that he lacks even a whiff of an exit strategy, which means he's advocating a fully open-ended commitment. In fact, to the extent that he cares about the will of the people, his timetable for victory is almost two years from now.

In January 2004, James Fallows wrote a much-discussed cover story for the Atlantic titled "Blind into Baghdad." Three years later, his point remains truer than ever.

Update: Steve Chapman points out that McCain gave the same answer on Thursday to 60 Minutes: asked "[i]f the surge strategy fails, what's next?," he replied, "That's what I don't know." Unbelievable.