Barack Obama's capmain co-chair, Gen. Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak (Ret.), is in the news with his comic thrust tagging Bill Clinton as Joe McCarthy.
Is time on the United States' side in this battle?
Yeah. I really think time is on our side here. This is a fragile society, a little old one-town country, the size of Nebraska, maybe a little bigger, with the GDP about half the Army budget. So if this is a hard problem, we ought to get ourselves some new generals. I mean there's no reason why this shouldn't be a walkover.
And a bit later we get the General's timeframe:
Is Iraq the last country we confront in the Middle East?
Who wants to volunteer to get cross-ways with us? We'll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right.
I'll tell you one thing we should not hope for (is) a democratic Iraq. When I hear the president talking about democracy, the last thing we should want is an election in Iraq. We're not very popular. So I don't think we'll see any open elections in Iraq for a long time.
Hopefully over time they can be brought along like Japan and Germany -- Japan and Germany were relatively easy, I think, and South Korea.
The Captain has a question:
Isn’t this the exact argument McCain has made repeatedly, and which Obama derides as “a hundred-years war”? ...
This should raise some eyebrows on the Obama campaign’s willful deception on this point. Didn’t McPeak bother to explain to Obama the exact same reasoning he had in March 2003, at the start of the war? Did Obama not bother to listen?
I can handle this without even vexing the Obama spinners - Obama was not in the briefing that Sunday when McPeak made his controversial remarks.
In any case, McPeak is a part of the American story; Barack can no more disown him than he can disown his own grandmother, who made comments about the war effort against the Japanese that made Barack cringe.
MORE: McPeak has been out in front of Barack for a while:
The Obama campaign Friday launched its own television ad in Texas, titled "Gulf."
The ad, which first aired before the Iowa caucuses, features retired Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former combat pilot who was the service's highest-ranking uniformed officer during the first Gulf War.
"As a combat pilot and Air Force chief during Desert Storm, lives depended on the judgments I made," McPeak says in the spot. "And judgment is what we need from our next commander in chief. Barack Obama opposed this war in Iraq from the start, showing insight and courage others did not."
McPeak backed John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race.
McPeak humiliated himself in early February with some stray comments about Hillary that were promptly repudiated and withdrawn.
And here we learn that McPeak "publicly opposed the current Iraq campaign from the start". Gee, a retired member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed the war and the Times missed it. But James Fallows of The Atlantic confirms it, as of Nov 2002 anyway.
This is from April 2006:
Though some retired senior officers are critical about the conduct of the war, that doesn't mean they want a quick pullout.
Gen. Merrill McPeak, retired Air Force chief of staff, says if anything the number of US troops there needs to be doubled - to around the figure Shinseki predicted would be needed three years ago - if Iraq is to become truly secure and democratic.
General McPeak lost friends when he started speaking out against the war several years ago. Now, he says, "everybody is sending me e-mails and cards and letters saying 'I wish I had seen it the way you saw it from the beginning,' and I've gotten some of those friends back."
McPeak participated in a pre-surge panel for Rolling Stone handicapping different scenarios (all grim). Snippets:
The war in Iraq isn't over yet, but - surge or no surge - the United States has already lost. That's the grim consensus of a panel of experts assembled by Rolling Stone to assess the future of Iraq. "Even if we had a million men to go in, it's too late now," says retired four-star Gen. Tony McPeak, who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War. "Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again."
...Best-Case Scenario: Civil War in Iraq and a Stronger al Qaeda
...Gen. Tony McPeak: It's not a question of whether we're going to leave Iraq - it's a question of when. And everybody in Iraq knows that. So they say, "Fine. We'll stock arms and wait for you guys to leave. And then we'll do what we want."
...Most Likely Scenario: Years of Ethnic Cleansing and War With Iran
McPeak: We're going to see a full-scale intercommunal war that may not burn out until one side is all dead, all gone. The Kurds would like to sit on the sidelines, but I don't see how they stay out, especially up in the Kirkuk area, where they sit on a lot of oil. This is going to be ethnic cleansing like we had in Kosovo or Bosnia - but written big, in capital letters. And we can't stop it.
...Worst-Case Scenario: World War III
...McPeak: The worst case? Iraq's Sunnis begin to be backed into a corner, then the Sunni governments - Jordan, Saudi Arabia - jump in. Israel sees that it's threatened by these developments. Once the Israelis get involved, then everybody piles on. And you've got nuclear events going off in the Middle East. That would be about as bad as it could get.
So McPeak was committed to defeat, as of March 2007 anyway. He's got the right candidate.