Friday, May 30, 2008

John McCain Reprises Howard Dean on Foreign Policy

June 2003, Howard Dean thought there were around 135,000 troops in Iraq when in fact there were 146,000:

Dr. Dean estimated that there were 135,000 American troops in Iraq and said there should be more. The actual number is 146,000. Mr. Russert told him that there were 9,000 on duty in Afghanistan. Dr. Dean said he would increase that to "at least between 30 and 40,000 additional troops" but said they did not all need to be Americans. Dr. Dean said that as his campaign advanced, he would hire military advisers who would inform him on such matters.

"For me to have to know right now to participate in the Democratic Party primary how many troops are actively on duty in the United States military, when that is actually a number that is composed both of people on duty today and people who are National Guards people who are on duty today, is silly," he said. "That's like asking me who the ambassador to Rwanda is."

Mr. Russert said: "There's concern about your awareness and positions on national security. You must acknowledge that."

May 2008, John McCain thinks there are less than 132,000 troops in Iraq when in fact there are approximately 150,000:

“I can tell you it is succeeding,” Mr. McCain said. “I can look you in the eye and tell you it is succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet.”

Mr. McCain’s remarks, however, differ from the numbers available. There were 132,000 troops in Iraq before President Bush dispatched an additional 21,500 combat troops, including five Army brigades, that comprised the so-called “surge.” In addition, some 8,000 support forces were sent to Iraq.

Three of the five Army brigades have left Iraq, along with some additional Marines who were sent as part of the troop buildup. The remaining two brigades are scheduled to leave by July, at which point General David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq has recommended a “pause” in troop drawdowns to reassess the situation on the ground.

Even then, however, the Pentagon has said the troop levels in Iraq are expected to be at 140,000, about 8,000 more than they were prior to the troop buildup, because some of the support troops sent to Iraq would be needed.

It remains to be seen whether Russert will be equally tough on McCain.

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