See Beutler and Klein for some critiques of Brooks on McCain. Let me add my own. Brooks writes that McCain thinks "he has an obligation to seek victory as long as there is any chance of it." One hears this sort of thing now and again, and it's worth pointing out that it involves a pretty perverse moral calculus. If we should prefer any option that holds out any chance of "victory," no matter how high the price of that option or how small the odds of success, then the McCain doctrine must hold that the costs of defeat in Iraq are literally infinite.

That, of course, is absurd. Nations sometimes really do find themselves in wars where their survival qua nation is imperiled. They also sometimes find themselves in situations where the price of defeat will be the literal eradication of the population. Iraq, however, is not anything like either of those cases. What's more, it so obviously doesn't fit either of those models that one gets the sense that McCain, "the candidate who is the most substantive, most mature and most consistent," hasn't genuinely given any thought whatsoever to the strategic stakes in Iraq or the nature and purpose of America's overall policy in the region.