In this April 28, 2016 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

McCain prepared to accept some ‘blame’ for the war in Iraq

In Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) new book, The Restless Wave, the ailing senator will apparently acknowledge what his critics have argued for years: he was wrong about the war in Iraq. Politico notes in a new report:

In his new memoir, he concedes that the war in Iraq he fought so hard to launch and then escalate now “can’t be judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one, and I have to accept my share of the blame for it.”

That’s quite an admission. He reportedly added that he realizes the “principal reason” for the 2003 invasion – Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction – “was wrong.” McCain goes on to concede in the as-yet-unreleased book that the war wasn’t worth “its cost in lives and treasure and security.”

While I haven’t seen the book or the context for this concession, this appears to be a rather dramatic departure from the Republican senator’s previous position on the issue.

In fact, in the recent past, McCain seemed convinced of the opposite. After more than a decade of defending the war and his position on the conflict, the veteran lawmaker argued in 2015, in reference to Iraq, “Everything I’ve predicted, unfortunately, has come true.”

It was a difficult boast to take seriously given the scope and scale of McCain’s documented misjudgments on the war. As Rachel noted on the show way back in 2014, “Let the record show, John McCain was wrong about Iraq and the war in Iraq in almost every way that a person can be wrong about something like that. He was wrong about Saddam having [WMD]. He was wrong about how long the war would take. He was wrong about how big the war would be. He famously said that as far as he was concerned, he thought that maybe Saddam sent the anthrax attacks. John McCain was wrong about whether there might ever be any trouble between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq.”

At the time, the senator apparently disagreed. Now, in his words, he’s prepared to accept his “share of the blame” for the disastrous conflict.

My point is not to kick a guy when he’s down. McCain is obviously dealing with a serious health crisis, and I wish him all the best. Rather, what I think is important is that even Republicans who were once certain about the merits of the war in Iraq are grudgingly conceding that they made the wrong call.

Here’s hoping McCain isn’t the last one willing to acknowledge the misjudgment.

Postscript: Donald Trump can learn something from the ailing senator. After all, the president continues to lie and say he opposed the Iraq war from the start – which means he got the policy wrong and the need to be honest about it.

Iraq and John McCain

McCain prepared to accept some 'blame' for the war in Iraq