Appearing at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2004, McCain was asked this very question -- what we should do if a sovereign Iraqi government asked us to leave, even if Iraq was not yet secure. "I don't see how we could stay," he answered then, "when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people."
Now that the Iraqi government has expressed its clear preference for a departure of U.S. forces along the timeline suggested by Obama, however, McCain argues that the decisive judgment should not be theirs but our field generals'. The person who should determine the course and duration of our mission is Gen. David Petraeus.
So much for the sovereignty thing. So much for rehabilitating post-Bush America in the eyes of the world.
Military experience isn't an infallible guide to who might make the better commander. Jefferson Davis, after all, graduated from West Point, served with distinction (and with the rank of colonel) in the Mexican War and was secretary of war in the Franklin Pierce administration. Abraham Lincoln served roughly three months in a volunteer militia during the Black Hawk War and never saw action, and he was a vocal congressional opponent of the Mexican War. But Davis had no aptitude for national strategy during the Civil War, while Lincoln emerged as the North's master strategist.
That's not to say that Obama is a budding Lincoln and McCain a second Jeff
Davis. But by the Frederick the Great standard, Obama already looks to be the