It's great that the Tribune's Swamp blog is publicizing
John McCain's latest lie about Iraq, in which he falsely credits
America's troop surge for the "awakening" of Sunnis in Anbar province.
As MSNBC's Keith Olbermann noted last night, the Anbar Awakening in ...
It's great that the Tribune's Swamp blog is publicizing John McCain's latest lie about Iraq, in which he falsely credits America's troop surge for the "awakening" of Sunnis in Anbar province. As MSNBC's Keith Olbermann noted last night, the Anbar Awakening in fact began long before the troop increase.
But rather than directly address McCain's revision of history, the Tribune's Mark Silva decided instead to report on MSNBC's segment about McCain's lie. Indeed, Silva refers to Olbermann's statement that McCain got "the basic timeline and history of the surge entirely wrong'' as an "assertion." And check out the headline:
Why the quotation marks? This isn't a he-said/she-said debate. McCain is wrong -- plain and simple -- and the Tribune should say so in its own words.
Below are a few links laying out why McCain's claim is flat false.
First of all, read over McCain's original exchange with CBS anchor Katie Couric:
Kate Couric: Senator McCain, Senator Obama says, while the increased number of US troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?
McCain: I don't know how you respond to something that is as-- such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar Awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn't make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.
McCain says the surge "began the Anbar Awakening." Now for "what actually happened."
Via, Spencer Ackerman, we have an interview with now-Gen. Sean McFarland briefing the media on the Anbar awakening on Sept. 29, 2006, months before Bush announced the Surge. And via Ilan Goldenberg, we have the New York Times talking about the Anbar Awakening back in March 2007, in which they cite that the formation of the group shocked many Sunni Arabs in September, as well as this nugget from Colin Kahl in Foreign Affairs.
The Awakening began in Anbar Province more than a year before the surge and took off in the summer and fall of 2006 in Ramadi and elsewhere, long before extra U.S. forces started flowing into Iraq in February and March of 2007. Throughout the war, enemy-of-my-enemy logic has driven Sunni decision-making. The Sunnis have seen three "occupiers" as threats: the United States, the Shiites (and their presumed Iranian patrons), and the foreigners and extremists in AQI. Crucial to the Awakening was the reordering of these threats.
Even McCain himself knew the timeline at one point. Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute on January 5, 2007 alongside fellow Senator Joe Lieberman after their trip to Iraq, McCain cited the Awakening as reason for the Surge itself!
"Too often the light at the tunnel has turned out to be a train, but I really believe -- I really believe that there's a strong possibility that you may see a very substantial change in Anbar province due to this new changes in our relationships with the sheiks in the region. ... But it's important, as I said in my opening remarks, that this troop surge be significant and sustained. Otherwise, don't do it."