Below, read the extended passage from Couric's interview where McCain describes the Anbar Awakening, which McCain appears to imply happened prior to the surge. Maybe it's Stockholm syndrome, maybe it's the Olbermann program, but check the passage once more. What McCain might have been saying -- and this blog tends to give candidates the benefit of the doubt -- is that the surge helped the Anbar Awakening to succeed because the shieks could actually be protected. But if the Awakening is a chicken and the surge is an egg, the chicken came before the egg.
If you're inclined to criticize McCain, perhaps you can start with my colleague Matthew Yglesias's point:
But the surge troops were overwhelmingly sent to increase the level of manpower in Baghdad (i.e., not where the Anbar Awakening happened) and almost certainly (along with a tactical shift to more of a population protection mission) deserves credit for reducing the bloodshed in Baghdad by stabilizing the borders between now-segregated neighborhoods. I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that it had nothing to do what happened in Anbar, but it wasn't a major factor,
COURIC: Sen. McCain, Sen. Obama says, while the increased number of US troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?
MCCAIN: I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn't make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.
They were out there. They were protecting these sheiks. We had the Anbar awakening. We now have a government that's effective. We have a legal system that's working, although poorly. And we have progress on all fronts. Including-- an incredible measure of security for the people of Iraq. There will still be attacks. Al Qaeda's not defeated. But the progress has been immense. And to not recognize that, and why it happened, and how it happened, I think is really quite a commentary.
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