John McCain has already apologized for using the word "wasted" in reference to American lives lost in Iraq, saying he really meant to say "sacrificed," as he usually does. Barack Obama, who committed a similar slip earlier has defended McCain, saying he was sure that wasn't what McCain really meant.
Civic piety aside, I suspect it was more a Freudian slip than an inadvertant sloppy slip. Somewhere in his subconscious, and despite his stalwart support of the idea of the Iraq war, I would be amazed if John McCain and a lot of other people don't believe that the American lives lost in Iraq have been wasted. It's not difficult to see how one could believe so.
Instead of a quick and clean victory over Saddam Hussein leading to a stable and democratic Iraq, U.S. forces have faced an insurgency and a complex, violent situation that one is loath to describe as a "civil war" only because it's much more complex and baffling than a standard-issue civil war. In the process, Iran, perhaps the most significant real danger in the region, has been strengthened and emboldened, and unless the "surge" goes a lot better than most independent observers expect, the U.S. is being set up for what is likely to be, however our leaders choose to spin it, a humiliating defeat for the United States and a decline of our influence in the region.
How difficult is it to believe that lives lost in such an endeavor have been wasted -- as American lives have been wasted in other wars?
Some of us saw such a scenario playing out before the invasion -- not the details, which nobody could have foreseen, but the general outline -- and warned about it. Will anybody listen the next time our short-sighted leaders want to start another war?