Why does it matter that John McCain doesn't know what the hell he's talking about? He said Pakistan was a "failed state" when Musharaff took over. He was wrong. Musharaff took over in a vile coup like any banana republic thug... and he couldn't have done it without complicity on the part of American incompetence (I'll spare you the details, as Democrats don't historically come off any better in re: Pakistan than Republicans do... but the chief part is, McCain just proved beyond all shadow of a doubt that he is, bluntly, an idiot).
More below the fold...
Musharaff was supported over and over by Bush/McCain. Never mind that his ascendancy was decried at the time as extremely dangerous, even potentially deadly woldwide.
He was the second coming of Muhammed Zia ul-Haq.
If you don't know who that was, don't worry. John McCain is evidently in the same boat as you. If you've got the time that McCain doesn't, and want a good primer on Pakistani extremism, you could, oh, I don't know, study the history of military suppression of democracy in the country.
On John McCain's supposed area of expertise, he essentially just said "Poland is not under Soviet influence." Seriously. If you don't know what that references, then google "Gerald Ford" "Poland" "Debate".
Now.... why does it matter?
It matters because the fundamental difference between "strategy" and "tactics", which McCain flubbed just as badly, is that "tactics" requires knowledge of terrain, knowledge of particular weapons, knowledge of weather conditions on the ground.
"Strategy" requires knowing your objective... and WHO THE FREAKING ENEMY IS!!!!!!! McCain may think that the politically ineffective Sharif's coalition party was a "failed state" but it was, in fact, a DEMOCRACY that should have been supported through a difficult time, not turned out to dry, leaving a power vacuum for the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
al-Qaeda is in over 60 countries now, but their leadership is in one region and one region only -- the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and John McCain doesn't get it. The reason why they are in that particular place? Because that particular place is peppered with islamic fundamentalists who have been recruited from the poorest neighborhoods in the world and who have learned first hand from the abject poverty into which they were born that the West, and particularly the Americans, don't give a flying flip whether they live or die. Why would we expect these people to feel anything but contempt for us?
The way to root them out? Deny them recruits. How? Democratize Pakistan. How? By opposing brutal dictators. NOT PROPPING THEM UP!!!
Of course, it's too abstract for most folk to understand, but the real cause of 9-11 and our current fiasco in Afghanistan is... RONALD REAGAN. Our support of the Mujaheddin -- without concomitant support for Democracy in Pakistan -- basically gave them weapons but did not give them any reason to love us.
For John McCain to miss this point? It means he don't know Jack. I would love to know how to spin this gaffe, but I fear that it's just too esoteric for folk to understand.