Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Blog-on-Blog: Dickerson’s Misread on McCain and the Troop Surge

Posted by K.E. White on January 8, 2007

John DickersonI saw John Dickerson—okay, okay I heard him from the back rows—at the AEI meeting where Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Lieberman (I-CT) endorsed Frederick W. Kagan’s plan for a troop surge of 30-40,000 troops.

After the event, I posted my piece on the event at Campus Progress, meandering afterwards to read Dickerson’s take at Slate.

Anyone can read Dickerson’s article, but they might not know where he got it from.

  • He makes no mention of the particular troop surge plan McCain endorsed at AEIInstead he quotes for the event without any sort of reference.

Instead Dickerson writes, without any reference:John McCain

“He told the audience that everyone in America should read Fiasco, the book that details those many failures. Pointing out that the job was botched is both an act of truth-telling and an act of political defense. If the surge doesn’t work, he will be able to say the Iraq war has been so mismanaged that it was too far gone for the McCain-backed last-ditch attempt.”

What audience? The only McCain talks Dickerson alludes to are:

“Recently he has advocated for a surge in private conversations with the president and at greater length with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who is heading up the administration’s policy review.”

  • Dickerson neglects the likely difference between “the McCain-backed last-ditch attempt” and the likely Bush proposal.

Kagan’s plan calls for 30-40,000 troops. Most sources peg Bush’s surge to be 10-20,000.

In other words, half that being advocated by McCain and Lieberman.

And he forgets to include these words of McCain: “The troops surge should be significant and sustained, if not don’t do it.”

  • Dickerson misses what will be the McCain Iraq Strategy

Obviously McCain is giving himself wiggle room, but of a different sort: He will not just say Bush messed up, but that he picked the wrong strategy.

And this strategy–“the right plan wasn’t adopted”–might be just the ticket to beating an anti-war or war-waffling Democrat in 2008.

I enjoyed the talk, and a fair amount of Dickerson’s article. But perhaps Slate should be on the look-out for another contributor…how does Adjunct Second-Look Contributor sound?

I won’t hold my breath for their call.

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