The Full Interview With McCain

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Jay Carney and I just posted a complete transcript of our interview with McCain.

I continue to be interested in the following exchange over Iraq, when we asked McCain whether he still stands by the definition of success he described in April, when Gen. David Petraeus came before Congress: “A peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic state that poses no threat to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists.”

McCain wasn’t happy with the question. And he didn’t answer it directly. But he did seem to walk back from the clear goal posts that he set back in April. Either that, or he still has the same goal posts, but doesn’t want to talk about them. Judge for yourself. Here is the exchange:

When General Petraeus last came and spoke before the Senate, you laid out a pretty clear definition of what you saw as victory in Iraq. The government of Iraq has made clear in the last month or two that they might want a withdrawal before complete stability, before totally secure borders, before some of the completeness of victory as he described it then. Is there any change, do you think there is some wiggle room there? What you described with Petraeus was an end point that was rather complete, a peaceful, stable country´┐Ż

It’s a peaceful and stable country now.

It is? But you wouldn’t say you’ve achieved victory now?

Yes, I would say that the surge is succeeding and we are winning.

But we haven’t reached victory yet?

I can say again that the surge has succeeded and we are winning.

But it’s not yet at a point where significant draw-down of troops…

That’s the view of General Petraeus… General Petraeus’ strategy has succeeded. Senator Obama said it wouldn’t, couldn’t, and has denied that it has succeeded and we will be able to withdraw as we have in every time in history when counterinsurgency succeeds.