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Lt_Ripley

As Aides Map Aggressive Race,

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As Aides Map Aggressive Race, McCain Often Steers Off Course

By Juliet Eilperin and Robert Barnes

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, July 31, 2008; Page A01

KANSAS CITY, Mo., July 30 -- Sen. John McCain last week delivered one of his sharpest critiques yet of Sen. Barack Obama's Iraq policies, carefully reading a prepared speech that accused his Democratic rival of failing the commander-in-chief test and promoting ideas that would force American troops to "retreat under fire."

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But just hours after his crisp performance, the Republican presidential candidate blurred his own message with an offhand comment to a television interviewer that Obama's proposal for a 16-month time frame for removing combat troops from Iraq might be a "pretty good timetable." That seemed to run counter to his attempts to cast Obama as naive on foreign policy, and it sent his aides scrambling.

As Election Day nears, McCain's campaign is adopting the aggressive, take-no-prisoners style of Karl Rove, the GOP operative who engineered victories for President Bush. The campaign continued the attack Wednesday with a sarcastic television ad deriding Obama as a "celebrity," part of an intensifying effort to cast him as an elitist.

But the sharp-edged approach is being orchestrated for an unpredictable candidate who often chafes at delivering the campaign's message of the day. It is that freewheeling style that has made him popular with voters and cemented his reputation for candor and straight talk.

McCain, who was most comfortable as an underdog in the unscripted environment of the New Hampshire primary, makes his advisers cringe as he delivers the attack line -- and then keeps talking. In that respect, he is no Bush, his handlers say.

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The result is a presidential campaign that sometimes rolls between serious policy discussions about the nation's future and gotcha politics aimed at undermining his opponent's character. McCain himself is often caught in the middle, proclaiming his commitment to the former while participating in the latter.

For weeks, McCain's staff has been criticized for running a campaign that has no clear message. The decision by the senator from Arizona to have former Bush strategist Steve Schmidt run daily operations was described as a way to get control of the message. But some Republicans outside the campaign believe that not much has changed since then.

"It's the candidate," said one GOP strategist with close ties to the campaign, who added that efforts to identify a theme for each week quickly unravel as McCain veers off message in his public comments.

At a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania last week, McCain stood before a banner that proclaimed "Energy Solutions" and "The Lexington Project" -- the moniker his campaign coined for an energy proposal featuring a combination of conservation efforts, expanded offshore drilling and nuclear power.

McCain rambled quickly through the details and showed little appreciation for the art of "branding."

"I call it the Lexington Project, my friends, but you can call it anything you want," he said.

Several weeks ago senior aide Mark Salter said McCain would stop kicking off town hall meetings with news "ripped from the day's headlines" and would instead deliver a formal introduction on a single theme. That effort lasted just a few weeks: In his opening remarks at Tuesday's town hall, McCain hopscotched from the war to pork-barrel spending.

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But just hours after his crisp performance, the Republican presidential candidate blurred his own message with an offhand comment to a television interviewer that Obama's proposal for a 16-month time frame for removing combat troops from Iraq might be a "pretty good timetable." That seemed to run counter to his attempts to cast Obama as naive on foreign policy, and it sent his aides scrambling.

good god

is this the quality of journalism these days?

a 16 month time table could be great in a years time, or whenever it is deemed the US can safely withdraw troops

the issue is that Obama was calling for this withdrawel over a year ago, the issue is that Obama did not support the Surge/Coin efforts and instead pushed a policy of retreat that would have left iraq as a failed state...

Heres an analogy for the slow people

A patient comes in with cancer, Dr McCain puts the patient on chemo, Dr Obama says that it just needs to be left alone, the patient gets put on chemo and the cancer shrinks dramatically to the point where chemo appears to no longer be necessary, Dr McCain says we can start looking at taking the patient off chemo, Dr Obama claims this means he was right all along, that the patient never needed chemo and Dr McCain is agreeing with him...

its *******ed

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for the slower people -

it was the sunni's that turned things around 10 months before the surge. if it weren't for the sunni's that surge would still be playing wack a mole . And why was most of it going on ??? they wanted , as did 70% of iraqi's , America out.

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10 months before the surge?

The sunni's cooperated in pockets, but the real change didn't come until the surge begin

stop talking crap

it was a collaborative effort

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10 months before the surge?

The sunni's cooperated in pockets, but the real change didn't come until the surge begin

stop talking crap

it was a collaborative effort

you have no clue really have you ? keep swallowing that right wing rhetoric. if Sadr changed his mind right now we'd be right where we started. Iraqi' s know this .

remember , this isn't the first surge attempt. the first one failed. back in 2006, extra soldiers were sent and it didn't work , but it wasn't called a 'surge' .

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080501faes...-the-surge.html

Posted on Mon, Jul. 7, 2008

Schism in Sunni community enabled troop surge to work

By Benjamin E. Schwartz

The last of the five "surge" brigades are scheduled to redeploy from Iraq this month. The counterinsurgency strategy launched in 2007 has coincided with a dramatic decrease in violence, the strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and most recently, the disbandment of the Mahdi Army.

A year ago, the most compelling critique of the surge was that even with the additional brigades the American military didn't have enough troops to implement a strategy aimed at protecting Iraq's major population centers. While counterintuitive, the success of the surge doesn't invalidate this critique.

The surge was only one of three major developments that created the conditions for the recent progress. Indeed, the chief lesson of the last year is not that the surge is a universal model for successful counterinsurgency, but rather that in war, timing is everything.

Gen. David H. Petraeus and his teams abandoned a failing strategy when they took charge of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They broke with the previous campaign plan that set the primary objective of American forces as "transitioning to Iraqi self-reliance" and made protecting the population the coalition's central mission.

The military couldn't stabilize Iraq by operating out of large bases isolated from the Iraqi population, while militias offered the only source of protection for average citizens. Deploying the surge brigades into Baghdad where they could interact with the population allowed the coalition to cultivate lasting relationships with Iraqi informants. In turn, American soldiers gained the intelligence needed to effectively target the insurgency.

The second crucial development had very little to do with American initiatives and everything to do with inter-Sunni politics. As brilliantly documented by David Kilcullen in Autonomy of a Tribal Revolt, al-Qaeda's brutality, its foreign leadership, and its recklessness wounded the pride, offended the honor, and emptied the pockets of the inhabitants of Anbar province. This sparked the "Anbar Awakening" that fractured the Sunni insurgency and prompted thousands of "volunteers" to ally with American forces.

When 10,000 Iraqis ally with coalition forces this creates an effective net gain of 20,000 because it takes 10,000 from the ranks of the insurgency. In contrast, when America deploys 10,000 U.S. troops it effectively gains less than half that number because the majority of the troops are needed to perform force protection and logistical tasks.

The ratio between U.S. forces and the Iraqi population that Americans were charged with protecting was never very high (in fact the architects of the surge requested more troops than were actually deployed), but the schism within the Sunni community created a tremendous multiplier effect.

The third development that set the stage for progress was one that the American military actively resisted - the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad's Sunni population.

It is important to recall that in 2003 the dominant forces in Iraq's Sunni Arab community launched a war aimed at restoring a Sunni dictatorship. For decades Sunni supremacists had pacified "uppity" Shiites and Kurds through murder and intimidation. This is how a small minority dominated a majority. In the post-Hussein era, car bombs were their principal instrument: murder a few Shiites and the rest would submit.

But in 2005, after two years of constant massacres against Shiite weddings, funerals, schools, large numbers of Shia joined the Mahdi Army and their agents infiltrated the Ministry of the Interior. When the Samara mosque was bombed in 2006, they responded with a vengeance. Only after the Mahdi Army gave Baghdad's Sunnis the choice between death and expulsion did the dominant forces in that community embrace American forces and come to an accommodation with the democratic, and demographic, reality of the new Iraqi state.

Placing the surge in the context of these internal Iraqi developments highlights the critical importance of timing. What if the surge had been implemented prior to the Anbar Awakening and the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad? Would the additional five brigades have introduced enough troops to protect the population, cultivate informants, and target insurgents at a time when the vast majority of Sunnis saw America as their primary enemy?

If the answer is "no," then we must recognize that internal developments, of which America played little role, proved to be as decisive as the change in strategy.

This conclusion in no way diminishes the accomplishments of America's military under Petraeus, but it does caution against accepting the surge as a model of success. The lesson America should take to other theaters of war, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan, is not that additional troops offer a panacea, but that native populations - rather than solely American soldiers and strategists - play a decisive role in shaping events

Benjamin E. Schwartz (bschwa12@jhu.edu) is a Presidential Management Fellow who was assigned to the State Department.

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20080...ge_to_work.html

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