In a McCain campaign conference call with reporters this morning, Randy Scheunemann, senior foreign-policy adviser to Sen. John McCain, took a question from The
In a McCain campaign conference call with reporters this morning, Randy Scheunemann, senior foreign-policy adviser to Sen. John McCain, took a question from The Washington Post’s Jonathan Weisman about how McCain can hold fast to his anti-timeline position in the face of opposition from the Iraqi government:
Q: I realize you guys want to talk about the surge, but I have to ask how Sen. McCain can maintain a position against timelines for withdrawal when the elected Iraqi government has now said, in three or four different ways and even in writing on their Website, that they want timelines for withdrawal and they want most combat forces out of the country by 2010?
Randy Scheunemann: Sen. McCain has always said two things would determine his approach to force levels in Iraq: the advice of commanders on the ground and the security situation on the ground. Sen. Obama reiterated again this morning that Gen. [David] Petraeus feels strongly that there should be no timetable, and Sen. Obama continues to stubbornly disagree with the commander that has had such success in the surge.
With regard to the Iraqi government position — the clearest explanation of that was, on Friday, in a joint statement with President Bush and [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki, making clear that any withdrawal, further withdrawal, of U.S. forces be based on critical conditions on the ground, including: the nature of the enemy and enemy activity [and the] security situation and the ability of Iraqi security forces to provide for their own security. I think there have been a number of statements from the prime minister and others about the hope that combat forces can be withdrawn by the end of 2010. But I would also point out that the government has made clear in a variety ways that that’s on the expectation of continued improvement in the security situation, and continuing improvement in the capability of Iraqi security forces to provide for their own security.
So, in making his decisions about whether or not to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, McCain will pay attention to American military commanders and the security situation. The wishes of the sovereign, democratically-elected government of Iraq — at the invitation of which, supposedly, we remain in its country — do not factor into the equation. Nor, for that matter, do the wishes of a majority of Americans.
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