Was McCain Caught Off Guard by Basra Invasion?

Is John McCain really this clueless?

John McCain, on the first day of a tour intended to tout his security credentials, admitted yesterday that he was caught off guard by the recent violence in Iraq. McCain, who plans to devote the week to showcasing his family’s tradition of military service, told reporters in Mississippi that he had not expected the Iraqi leader, Nouri al-Maliki, to launch an offensive against Shia militias in Basra – especially without informing the Americans. “I just am surprised that he would take it on himself to go down and take charge of a military offensive,” he said. “I had not anticipated that he would do that.”

Juan Cole suggests two possibilities:

Either McCain really did not know and did not anticipate the trouble in Basra, in which case he does not know much about Iraq and isn’t better qualified to deal with it than anyone else. Or, he and Cheney helped put al-Maliki up to the whole thing while he was there, and now is petrified that someone will hang the fiasco around his neck.

Clueless or dishonest. Either way – John McCain is not fit to be our Commander-in-Chief.

Update: Thanks to Rdan for pointing out this story:

“I think that what this demonstrates is that there are very powerful forces that still remain that do not want to see the success of the central government and that would relish the prospect of the American withdrawal so that they could try to fight or shoot their way into power,” said Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign’s senior foreign policy adviser. “Would you rather have the Maliki government in control, or the Iranian-backed special groups in control, or Al Qaeda in control?”

Could some reporter ask Senator McCain about this remark from his senior foreign policy adviser? If Team McCain thinks that the Battle of Basra had anything to do with Al Qaeda, might I suggest to the GOP that they find someone else to be their nominee in 2008. John McCain isn’t just clueless – he’s a candidate for the Stupidest Man Alive (oh wait, Brad DeLong has that award copyrighted).

Update II: Salon publishes Why al-Maliki attacked Basra by Juan Cole. A teaser:

By the time the cease-fire was called, al-Maliki had been bloodied after days of ineffective fighting and welcomed a way back from the precipice. Both Iran, which brokered the agreement, and al-Sadr, whose forces acquitted themselves well against the government, were strengthened. As of press time Tuesday morning in Iraq, the truce was holding in Basra, and a curfew had been lifted in Baghdad, though sporadic fighting continued in the capital. Estimates of casualties for the week were 350. The campaign was a predictable fiasco, another in a long line of strategic failures for the sickly and divided Iraqi government, which survives largely because it is propped up by the United States. So why did al-Maliki do it? With no obvious immediate crisis in Basra that called for such desperate measures, what could have motivated the decision to attack?