John McCain is jealous of Barack Obama. He's frustrated by the attention the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential aspirant is receiving on his tour of combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.
McCain is envious of the images of Sen. Obama engaging the country's leaders and coalescing with our military commanders and their troops. He wonders, spitefully, how this man can be taken seriously by voters without the benefit of having even served in the military which McCain so regularly associates himself with as he promotes his own service as an integral facet of his opportunistic campaign for the presidency.
"It is what it is," McCain said of the spotlight on Obama's trip, as he visited the home of President Bush's father on Monday.
The contempt just bleeds from every defensive attack McCain has launched against his Democratic rival this week as he's traveled abroad. Sen. Obama's trip to Iraq, McCain insisted, wouldn't even be possible if the "surge" the Democrat opposed hadn't been the success he claims it is. Without spelling out just what he believes we've won in Iraq, McCain argued that, "The fact is, if we had done what Senator Obama wanted to do, we would have lost."
"And we would have faced a wider war," he said. "And we would have had greater problems in Afghanistan and the entire region. And Iran would have increased their influence."
The question for McCain, however, is how could things be any worse with regard to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the results of any more influence Iran might have gained than they already enjoy in their deep, close relationship with Iraqi PM Maliki? Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the sectarian fighting that centered in Baghdad from 2005 to 2007. How much wider a 'war' would there need to be for McCain to acknowledge the futility and folly of our continued occupation of Iraq?
Some three hundred Americans were killed during the period of the increase in troops and the escalated assaults on the Iraqi communities at the height of the "surge," adding to the 900 or so killed in the entire year. Iraq Coalition Casualty Count reported that more U.S. troops died in Iraq during June, July, and August 2007 than the same three-month period in 2003, 2004, 2005, or 2006.
Iraqi civilians were subjected to the increased U.S. assaults from the air and land and were not the beneficiaries of any success McCain imagines from the increased occupation. AP reported 1,809 civilians were killed across the country in August of that year compared with 1,760 in July.
The American casualties naturally subsided when the bulk of the American offensives against the resisting Iraqi communities were discontinued. The ability to hunker down in conquered territory with enough force to protect and maintain their occupation has never been a goal that any reasonable observer would use to judge the success or efficacy of such a nebulous military mission. It's the effect of that increased occupation on the Iraqi population which should be the measure of success or failure, not the relative calm that develops when the airstrikes and commando raids on resisting communities subside.
Iraq Body Count, in 2006, reported that the U.S. was directly responsible for 394-434 deaths in Iraq; in 2007 the U.S. directly caused between 669 and 756 deaths., not including non-combatants killed in firefights In 2006, between 544 and 623 were reported killed; in 2007, between 868 and 1,326 were reported killed by U.S. military offensive action.
In Afghanistan, which McCain believes benefited from the surge, Human Rights Watch has reported that in 2007 non-combatant deaths at U.S. and NATO hands grew approximately 74 percent. They estimate that in 2006, NATO and U.S. forces killed approximately 230 non-combatants there. In 2007, about 400 Afghan non-combatants -- mostly from the increased airstrikes.
As for the effect of the increased occupation and assaults on the influence of Iran, it shouldn't be forgotten that the evil axis member actually helped broker ceasefire in Iraq between the government and forces aligned with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr which unquestionably contributed to the decrease in the violence McCain celebrates.
It's clear that John McCain is pining for the day when he returns for a "peaceful stroll" through the Iraqi markets -- this time "walking freely", as he claimed he could during his last visit to the war-zone -- without the benefit of a bulletproof vest, 100 American soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships providing cover overhead.
He's in no hurry. If he had his way, he'd have our troops there to cover for him for "maybe 100" more years.