Reporting McCain's call for more troops in Iraq, LA Times, Wash. Post didn't mention Abizaid's criticisms


In articles reporting Sen. John McCain's renewal of his call for more U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post did not mention that Gen. John Abizaid said McCain's plan is unlikely to "add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq."

Reporting that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) again called for more U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq during his November 19 appearance on ABC's This Week, November 20 articles in the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post omitted any mention of the criticism that Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, leveled at McCain's plan. Abizaid said that the plan is unlikely to "add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq" and that McCain's proposal is not "sustain[able]" for the long term.

In a November 20 article, the Los Angeles Times reported that McCain had "reiterated his call for a short-term increase in troops for Iraq." From the Times article:

In Washington, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday reiterated his call for a short-term increase in troops for Iraq.

The Republican presidential hopeful told ABC's "This Week" that the move might cause a "terrible strain" on the U.S. military, but said "there's only one thing worse and that is defeat ... and we've been losing."

McCain added that U.S. troops were "fighting and dying for a failed policy" and needed reinforcements to ensure victory.

"The consequences of failure are catastrophic," he said. "It will spread to the region. You will see Iran more emboldened. Eventually, you could see Iran pose a greater threat to the state of Israel."

Similarly, a November 20 Post article reported McCain's call for increasing the number of troops deployed to Iraq. McCain, the Post reported, "renewed his call for more U.S. troops in Iraq and said it is immoral to keep them fighting at the current deployment levels." The article later quoted McCain more fully:

On ABC's "This Week," McCain reiterated his argument that the United States faces a catastrophic setback in Iraq unless it deploys more troops to reduce sectarian violence and stabilize the country. "We have to have additional forces, or we will be playing whack-a-mole," he said.

McCain said in a speech Thursday that it is immoral to keep troops fighting merely to "delay our defeat for a few months or a year." Asked yesterday by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, "Isn't it currently immoral to keep Marines and soldiers, other service people, in Iraq?" McCain replied: "Yes, it is." But the war still can be won with renewed effort and resources, he said.

However, neither the Times nor Post articles included Abizaid's earlier criticism of McCain's suggested course of action. Testifying on November 15 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Abizaid responded to a question from McCain by stating that his commanders did not believe a troop increase would significantly improve the situation in Iraq. Abizaid said: "I've met with every divisional commander. General [George] Casey, the corps commander, [Lt.] General [Martin] Dempsey -- we all talked together. And I said, 'In your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq?' And they all said no. And the reason is because we want the Iraqis to do more." During the Senate hearing, Abizaid also said that, while sending another 20,000 U.S. troops into Iraq immediately might achieve a "temporary effect ... when you look at the overall American force pool that's available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps." As Media Matters has previously noted, Frank Gaffney Jr., a conservative supporter of the war and president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy, has also questioned the feasibility of McCain's proposal.

On November 16, Abizaid ordered 2,000 more U.S. Marines into Iraq's Anbar province. The Marines had been stationed on ships in the Persian Gulf.

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