John McCain Just Made an Inexcusable Gaffe About U.S. Casualties in Iraq

FILED TO: Headline Articles

The collapse of Iraq back into a Bush-era Hell on Earth has brought the usual suspects out of the woodwork to insist that the United States should have kept sending Americans to fight and die in the hellhole that they lied us into. They include Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been making the cable news rounds, demanding firings and trying to sell the comparison of a “residual force” in Iraq with those left in Bosnia, where there were a total of 18 U.S. casualties for the duration of that conflict.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Friday morning, he also compared a hypothetical U.S. residual force in Iraq with those in “Bosnia, Korea, Germany, Japan,” but it was on CNN’s New Day that McCain’s sales pitch really jumped the shark.

“It’s important for us to note that in other wars and other conflicts, we have left residual forces behind, not in a combat role, but a stabilizing role,” McCain told Chris Cuomo. “Whether it be Korea, Japan, Germany. We still have forces in Bosnia from that conflict.”

He also added “We had it won, and we needed to have a residual force.”

The key differences between those post-conflict nations and Iraq are rather obvious, as is the more apt comparison with another conflict with which McCain is intimately familiar. President George W. Bush began using the language of Vietnamization barely two years into the Iraq war, and the deeply-divided Iraq we left behind much more closely resembled Vietnam than any of those that McCain listed.

McCain’s implication is that, like in those other countries he listed, the U.S. could have kept a small force in Iraq without risk of casualties, handing out Hershey bars and training Iraqi commandos, and maybe we didn’t because we’re just yella, or something.

We had literally no casualties there in Iraq during the last period after the surge was over,” McCain said, “and by leaving a vacuum, then that was obviously filled.”

He literally said “literally.” Watch:


The truth is, of course, that there were hundreds of U.S. casualties in Iraq following the end of “The Surge,” including 66 fatalities, 38 of them killed in combat, and 297 wounded in action. Keeping in mind McCain’s vision of the post-conflict mission, among those casualties were:

January 15, 2011 – Sgt. Michael P. Bartley, 23, of Barnhill, Ill. (and) Spc. Martin J. Lamar, 43, of Sacramento, Calif. died Jan. 15 in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an Iraqi soldier from the unit with which they were training shot them with small arms fire. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

And, on September 7, 2010, weeks after the surge had ended:

An Iraqi soldier opened fire Tuesday on a group of U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq, killing two and wounding nine others, the U.S. military and the Iraqi military said.

In fact, the United States continued to take casualties right up until the last soldier left in December of 2011. Whether a “residual force” would, or could, have prevented the current situation in Iraq, it is a lie to say that they could have done so without further loss of lives and limbs. As a wounded soldier himself, John McCain ought to know better, but giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he just doesn’t. The next time he tries to make this claim, though, someone should set him straight.


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  • bushfatigue

    Wrong about everything–remember “We’re all Georgians now?” And it turns out Georgia stupidly incited that war?

    But more to the point, McCain falsely insists the Administration made a choice to leave Iraq, when the truth is nothing of the sort.

    The Administration DID seek to maintain a military base in Iraq after December 2011, but after Abu Ghraib, and so many civilian deaths with no or low-level prosecutions, Maliki said he could not get the parliament to approve an agreement, without subjecting U.S. military personnel to Iraqi law. This was widely reported.

    So, would our knowledgeable war hero have stayed in Iraq while subjecting US personnel to the tender mercies of Iraqi law?

    Then the Administration sought to maintain troops to train and assist the Iraqi army. Again, as reported by AP, immunity of the troops remained a red line for both parties.

    In a recent New Yorker article,, by Dexter Filkins, who knows a hell of a lot more about Iraq than McCain, Maliki confirmed that he ordered a U.S. withdrawal, and that immunity was a stumbling block.

  • Marjorie Nye

    McCain is a sick man. He has unresolved issues resulting from his POW days. Rather than empathizing with the sacrifice of every soldier, the man never sees a problem that can’tbe fixed by sending other people’s sons and daughters to be killed because he has guilt for betraying his own country in Viet Nam.

  • phreethink

    Facts present no obstacle when attacking Obama.

  • charlie

    McCain and all of his republican buddies want another war because all of their republican buddies who own arms factories can get richer.

  • Yvonne Rivera

    Poor McCain loser!!!!@!”‘()

  • mikem42

    Why must we be subjected to the crap this old man (I’m old too) spews out regularly on our t.v. sets? He has been wrong from his days at the Naval Academy, through his wrecking of two multi million dollar fighter jets due to hot dogging, reckless flying, and then a prisoner of war himself, sets himself up as a military expert. He was not a good pilot nor is he an expert on military matters. He is a disgrace to me, a Navy veteran, and should be to the citizens of Arizona. Stop already putting him on the air and letting him pollute the airwaves with his lying revisionist views on anything to do with the well being of our country.

  • Lord_Mithras

    Thats right, fat lazy americans. Let it sink in, you’re almost there. Figure it out yet? Dumb americans…

  • edan

    Where was McCain while those 40 Veterans were dying because of lack of access to the VA, SIX BLOCKS FROM HIS OFFICE in Phoenix? Giving weapons to the ISIS terrorists fighting in Syria! The Vietnamese did us a favor by keeping McCain in Hanoi during the Fools War there. He had lost 6 airplanes and nearly sank an Entire Aircraft Carrier single handily, before his capture. Everytime I see him regurgitating the stupid lies about the Obama admins handling of Iraq, I want to strangle him. The surge worked, but it wasn’t the conclusive victory he wants to make it. As this article aptly points out, there were hundreds of Casualties afterwards and right up to the last man leaving. Also, Maliki refused to sign a SOFA agreement, protecting Americans from prosecution from Iraqi injustice. There is NO Way to compare Korea, Germany and Japan to Iraq. Shut up McCain you worthless Liar.


    If WE say it,
    it is so….
    We know our followers.
    Our word is taken as GOSPEL.
    They see no need to fact check us.
    They’re too busy nodding YES! &
    gobbling up all that ‘Red Meat’ we provide.

  • boo

    Sorry old man

  • Jimmy L Aldrich

    How old is he now? I know he doesn’t want to spend alot of time with Cindy but he has to go home at some point.

  • CL Nicholson

    Talk about dreams deferred. McCain is always ready to fight because he never got the chance. This old geezer is mad he spent most of the Vietnam War stuck in the Hanoi Hilton getting bamboo shoved up his fingernails. He always wants to go to war because he’s afraid he’ll go down as just that POW guy. It’s sad really, on would think the horrors of a prison camp would take the taste for war out of a person. At his age, daddy issues are downright pathetic.

  • undsoweiter

    His defeat in 2008 completely unhinged him.
    It doesn’t matter who or what he hazards, as long as he can damage Obama. It is his single minded mission in life.

  • JCF

    When George HW Bush was parachuting the other day for his 90th birthday, I thought “Why can’t we do that w/ John McCain?” Just parachute him into Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, or any of the other 97 wars he’d like to be fighting now. Give him a highly-polished sword, and a GINORMOUS American flag, and just drop him in! Good luck, John! Get R Done! USA! USA! USA!!!

  • tifosies

    We should have a new rule: if you’re interviewing one of these buffoons, giving them free mic-time, have enough knowledge to call-out the BS.

  • dmcrane

    McCain never spent a day in the kind of combat our soldiers in Iraq have dealt with. Other than being a poor student at the Naval Academy, a lousy pilot who damaged several planes and whose peers felt should have been grounded for incompetance, promptly got shot down in Vietnam, became a POW, then came home to be glorified. He’s completely clueless about ground-fighting this kind of war and his judgement has always lousy and self-serving.

    • JCDavis

      As he lost five American planes, he could have been an ace for North Vietnam, and as he sang like a canary just days after his capture, they might have awarded him the Order of Ho Chi Minh.

  • Charles Almon

    Part of this new meme, that other dolts like McCain,
    are pushing is that we won.
    we lost and were asked to leave.
    we were seen as INVADERS.
    There was never a victory. Only a temporary cease fire
    until the inevitable civil war re-started.

  • Steve Temke

    I’ve got an idea. Why doesn’t McCain round up all of his warmongering Congressional buddies and THEY can go to Iraq and be the “residual force.”

    • mikem42

      Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Cheney, the Three Mouseketeers should be able to handle the job, and they will be greeted as liberators! Mission Accomplished.

  • Teressa BluesBabe Brewer

    Insane McCane has NO credibility. He just proved it and has many times. “Literally no casualties.” Yeah we’ve got your numbers lying scum bag!

  • fry1laurie

    Bloodthirsty old fuck needs to take a pill.

  • Learjet

    Let Iraq fight their own fu*king war. We don’t have thousands of soldiers or trillions of dollars to spare at the moment. We aren’t obligated to pay for and police the whole world.

    • stacib23

      But, but, but, we can pay for it with Iraqi oil dollars. /snark

  • D_C_Wilson

    Did we dodge a bullet in 2008 or what?

    • Victor_the_Crab

      More like a nuclear missile.

    • stacib23

      And 2012. Can you imagine Mitt Romney as president? Ugh!

      • nubwaxer

        imagine the title Commander in Chief following any name from the scrub bench of the right wing. micro rubio, commander in chief for example.

    • Barry__S

      No, you got nailed straight between the eyes.

      • D_C_Wilson

        President McCain would have started a war with either Iran or Syria, if not both, by now.

        • Mike Lumisch

          I’m still annoyed at the liberal commentariat who fawn over him in 1999-2000 as the great Maverick, the allegedly decent Republican who you could work with. I saw him as the crazy right wing senator from Arizona who got his hand caught in the cookie jar with the Keating Five in the Savings & Loan scandal – fore runner to the great financial meltdown of 2008. Couple those moral failings with his anger management issues following his imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Vietnamese and there is no way in hell that man should be allowed anywhere near the levers of power.

    • Jeff Cramer

      Exactly even if Sarah hadn’t entered the picture, a McCain with his choice of VP with either his preferred choice of Lieberman or Graham would still be dangerous.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Go the fuck away, McCain. Just go the fuck away.

  • Jane

    I can’t dismiss McCain as being senile. He seems to have his executive functions intact and could pass a basic Montreal Cognitive Assessment test.

    His pathology is far deeper and goes to ideology, which scares the hell out of me.

    I gave up on McCain making sense a long time ago.

    Or maybe just bad shrooms?

    • D_C_Wilson

      I think he is fully aware of what he is saying.
      Which is what terrifies me.

  • Dcbos

    Here’s an idea lets bring home everyone ; there solved the Mccain brain problem.

  • Jason E

    The smart move here would be to work with Iran to save their new ally Iraq. Sweet irony!

  • formerlywhatithink

    Residual force, my ass. What the hell is a “residual” force? Does he not realize our “residual” force in Korea is almost 30,000. During the cold war, our “residual” force in Europe was almost 300,000. And these soldiers didn’t/don’t have to run combat patrols, dodge IEDs and deal with an armed population that could turn and shoot them just as easily as the enemy on a daily basis. Fucking buffoon.

    • cheviteau

      That asshole (McCain) knows, or should know, that our forces in Germany, Korea and Japan are not there to pacify those countries. They’re in place as a projection of our strength in the Pacific Theater to keep an eye on the Chinese. The forces in Germany (and once, France) was and is a deterrent to Soviet Expansion farther East. Apples & Oranges. Conservatives – Idiots all.

  • edmeyer_able

    #1 CNN won’t challenge McCain #2 McCain is senile.

  • amva55

    For somebody that kept his commission with the Navy for having a famous grandfather, after so many crashes, is very asinine, to say the least, his continued warmongering.

  • arirutenberg

    He’s an idiot. And he’s senile. And a really angry violent asshole.

  • Mark (MarkusGarvey) Estrada

    Get offa my country!…

  • reggid

    The only thing McCain knows about warfare is crashing planes.

    • Donnie Corbin

      Yeah, and into and knocking down power lines and he didn’t even get into trouble. That’s because his daddy and granddaddy were both U.S. Navy Admirals! It was the planes fault not the pilot! Bad ol airplane! Shame on you!

      • solange82200

        Ha! I would respond with “planes don’t crash planes, people crash planes”. Throw their ridiculous gun rhetoric back at them

    • Mike Lumisch

      The Vietnamese ace – they should have given him a medal.

  • i_a_c

    McSame has been wrong on virtually every foreign policy initiative since 9/11 at least. There’s not a McWar he wouldn’t start, and he would have spent a McCentury in Iraq, flagellating the COIN-fetishists at the Pentagon. Fuck this guy.

    • OsborneInk

      Flagellating or fellating?

      • i_a_c

        Definitely fellating. Not sure why I typed the other one.

        • OsborneInk

          Heck, why not both? The COIN-fetishists are obviously gluttons for punishment…

          • Aaron Litz

            Just go Shakespearean and use fellagelating.

    • Joseph Blow


  • Shandy

    I believe that Obama was in favor of a residual force but al-Malaki wouldn’t allow it. Correct me if I’m wrong on that….

  • mellowjohn

    well, in fairness to grampy mcsame, HE wasn’t the one getting shot at.


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