NY Times, Blitzer touted McCain's plan to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq, but failed to question idea's feasibility

››› ››› JOSH KALVEN

A New York Times article on Sen. John McCain's proposal to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq ignored a key question: whether the strategy is even feasible, given that McCain has asserted that the fate of the U.S. effort in Iraq will be decided in a matter of months and yet acknowledged that sending 20,000 more soldiers into the region would require increasing active forces by 100,000. CNN's Wolf Blitzer similarly ignored the question of whether the plan is achievable.

In a November 14 New York Times article on Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) call for increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq -- which ABC News' The Note called "the day's only must-read" -- John M. Broder depicted McCain as "either taking a principled stand or a huge political gamble. Or both." But while Broder examined the potential effect of McCain's plan on his future political prospects, he ignored a key question: whether the strategy is even feasible, given that McCain himself has asserted that the fate of the U.S. effort in Iraq will be decided in a matter of months and yet acknowledged that sending 20,000 more soldiers into the region would require increasing active forces by 100,000. On the November 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer similarly touted McCain's plan, while ignoring the question of whether the plan is achievable.

As blogger Atrios (Media Matters for America senior fellow Duncan Black) noted, in recent weeks, McCain has stated that the "next several months" will determine whether the United States can win in Iraq and argued that, in order to win, it must boost the number of active Army and Marine forces by 100,000. Indeed, during an October 27 campaign event for Republicans in New Hampshire, McCain advocated sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq, which he said "means expanding the Army and Marine Corps by as much as 100,000 people." McCain subsequently asserted on the November 12 broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, "We're either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months."

McCain's plan to increase the number of troops has come under fire from conservative supporters of the war such as Frank Gaffney Jr., president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy. In an October 30 article, New York Sun staff reporter Josh Gerstein reported that Gaffney had argued that "McCain's approach was essentially unworkable." Gerstein quoted Gaffney as saying: "We'd be hard pressed to put 20,000 more people on the ground."

Nonetheless, Broder -- like Meet the Press host Tim Russert -- ignored entirely the question of feasibility in his November 14 article on McCain's plan to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq. While the article highlighted McCain's proposal of sending 20,000 more troops and noted that he had established a six-month window of opportunity, Broder made no mention of McCain's acknowledgement that active Army and Marine forces would need to be expanded by 100,000. From the New York Times article:

Mr. McCain contends that the war in Iraq is worth fighting and is worth winning. He has said consistently from the start of the conflict that the only way to prevail is to send enough soldiers to do the job. His current proposal is to send 20,000 additional troops in hopes of bringing Baghdad and the restive western provinces under control.

The alternative, he said, is humiliation for the United States and disaster for Iraq.

"We're paying a price for the failure of our policy in the past," Mr. McCain said Sunday on "Meet the Press" on NBC, "and the question, then, before the American people is, are we ready to quit? And I believe the consequences of failure are chaos in the region, which will spread."

Mr. McCain said that the fate of the Iraqi venture would be decided in the next six months or so and that signaling the intention to depart, regardless of facts on the ground, only guaranteed defeat.

On the November 13 edition of The Situation Room, Blitzer also touted McCain's plan to "deploy many, many more troops" to Iraq but made no mention of whether such an increase is achievable in the timeframe McCain has laid out:

BLITZER: It's interesting that Senator McCain, Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, both are Republicans, many would regard them a little bit of mavericks. They're both saying: To win in Iraq, the United States has to deploy many, many more troops; instead of starting to withdraw troops, more troops, thousands more troops, have to be deployed.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
The New York Times, CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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