Ripon Magazine reminded Secrets that McCain in a pre-GOP convention Ripon Forum interview that year also worried that civil war, followed by genocide, could take over Iraq and destabilize the whole region.
To McCain and other Iraq observers, that is exactly what is happening in sections of Iraq. The U.S. has offered help, but pledged no troops.
Ripon, which charts moderate Republican policy, wrote this in the August/September issue of 2008:
Ripon Forum: The surge has clearly helped increase stability in Iraq. What is your definition of victory that would allow our troops to come home? How will achieving that victory help make Americans more secure?
John McCain: The surge has succeeded. That is why the additional surge brigades are almost all home. We can and will win in Iraq. I’m confident we will be able to reduce our forces in Iraq next year, and our forces will be out of regular combat operations and dramatically reduced in number during the term of the next President. We have fought the worst battles, survived the toughest threats, and the hardest part of this war is behind us. But it is not over yet. And we have come too far, sacrificed too much, to risk everything we have gained and all we could yet gain because the politics of the hour make defeat the more convenient position.
If we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, as various factions of Sunni and Shi’a have yet to move beyond their ancient hatreds, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda. Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values. Iran will also view our premature withdrawal as a victory, and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.