The Strategic Thought of John McCain

Hendrick Hertzberg takes a look at John McCain's pledge for American troops to stay in Iraq for 100 years and comes away unimpressed:

But what the context shows, I think, is that yanking that sound bite out of context isn’t really all that unfair. McCain's wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we'll stay.

He'll see your fifty years and raise you fifty. But the cards are blank.

For McCain, a certain culture of honor, militarism, and nationalism are their own reward. The military is to be celebrated and supported not for what it does but for what it is. Thus, a given military venture doesn't need to have a real purpose or be "worth it" in any particular sense. It is what it is, and what we need to do is keep on doing it for as long as "it" takes and it doesn't matter if "it" is pointless or futile or even if "it" isn't anything in particular at all. The war is its own rationale.