The Restless Wave
John McCain
Contributed by Nina Calhoun
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Chapter 4
Summary

In 2002, McCain and a group of congressmen and women made the congressional trip to Afghanistan as part of follow-up activities to a security mission that had been launched in the region. It was during this trip that McCain recalls shouting “Next up, Baghdad!” amidst cheers from the delegation and the listening security officers. McCain claims to regret making this statement. At the time, there were fears that the administration of Saddam Hussein was piling weapons of mass destruction, which caused unease and discomfort among the West. However, McCain regrets that this assumption was seriously flawed. McCain believes that, as a politician, he should have diminished any thoughts of war. War is costly for any party involved, and there should be no joy behind the country’s decision to go to war. He records that, "The war, with its cost in lives and treasure and security, can’t be judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one.” In his explanation, attacking Iraq was not the most appropriate course of action, although it was appealing at the time. In spite of his reservations about the encounter in Iraq and Afghanistan, McCain is quick to praise the American soldiers for their gallant operation in the region amidst a myriad of challenges they faced.

Analysis

Leadership requires individuals to admit when they make mistakes. During a visit to Afghanistan, McCain made a statement that bordered on a celebration of the prospects of war. War is a very costly affair as it is not only financially draining, but also leads to a significant loss of lives. Therefore, it was highly inappropriate for McCain to appear to be encouraging the attack on Iraq. War is a traumatizing experience both for the soldiers and their families. American soldiers must be commended for their demonstration of valor, patriotism, and professionalism. While McCain records that the missions had a wide range of difficulties, the soldiers showed their relentless dedication and contribution to the peace and security Americans enjoy today.

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