The right has a way of using phrases invented in one context, and having one meaning, to serve in another context, with a totally different meaning.
The term “unconditional surrender” was used at the end of the second world war to communicate that the defeated axis powers could pose no conditions to ceasing combat, by opposition to previous wars where each side could lay down conditions for ceasing hostilities.
Senator John McCain has been using the term to refer to the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, stating that it would be equivalent to “unconditional surrender”. In terms of war, we defeated Saddam’s army. Victorious, occupying armies are expected to eventually withdraw. To not withdraw from a sovereign country whose government requests it, is an act of war, which would require another “victory”. An intrepid journalist should ask Senator McCain what further “victory” he is seeking in Iraq, since Al Qaeda is holed up in the hills of Pakistan. Is he referring to the victory of one Shiite faction (Al Malaki’s) over another (Al Sadr’s)? The return to power of the Sunnis (Saudi Arabia’s allies)?
Or maybe just the signing away of Iraq’s oil wealth to Exxon?
P.S. Barack Obama met with Al Malaki before he met with General Petraeus, in what I believe is a significant inversion of U.S. diplomatic practice.