Here is my transcript of the exchange:
Audience Member: "President Bush has talked about staying in Iraq for fifty years..."We know of course that Hillary Clinton is for immediate, unconditional withdrawal "within 60 days" of assuming her possible presidency, and that Barack Obama has indicated he would "change the mission in Iraq" and expects ground commanders to comply.
Sen. McCain: "...Make it a hundred..."
Audience Member: "Is that what you're saying?"
Sen. McCain: "We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed."
But what does puzzle me about John McCain's statement that is being completely ignored, conveniently, it seems, by both pro- and anti-war forces during this presidential campaign is the CONDITION he explicitly lays down for staying in Iraq a hundred years or more: as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed."
This is so typical of John McCain over the years and one reason he is suspect even among the GOP faithful--for wanting to have his cake and eating it too. I cannot in fact imagine how America could EVER disengage from Iraq or that part of the world, because even IF Americans are being injured or harmed or wounded or killed there, as they certainly are now, and certainly will be in the future, there is NO RATIONAL CHOICE but fix the situation. It is in America's national interest, and the rest of the world's, that the conflict be settled one way or another.
Whatever one thinks about how and why we got in there, there ought not to be any confusion that there is no NO GETTING OUT. Ever.
If I were to choose a candidate solely on this criterion of understanding the need for America's commitment in the fight against Islamist terrorism, and the consequences of past action and policy, I wouldn't vote for any of 'em!