February 15th, 2008
09:15 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain defends '100 years in Iraq' statement

Sen. John McCain discussed his presidential candidacy with CNN's Larry King.

Sen. John McCain discussed his presidential candidacy with CNN's Larry King.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential front-runner Sen. John McCain on Thursday defended his statement that U.S. troops could spend "maybe 100" years in Iraq - saying he was referring to a military presence similar to what the nation already has in places like Japan, Germany and South Korea.

This week, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama both took McCain to task for the comments, saying that if he's elected he would continue what they call President Bush's failed policies in Iraq.

"It's not a matter of how long we're in Iraq, it's if we succeed or not," McCain said to CNN's Larry King.

"And both Sen. Obama and Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal - that means chaos, that means genocide, that means undoing all the success we've achieved and al Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America.

"I won't let that happen."

Full story

Filed under: Iraq • John McCain
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. nepotism...?

    Mr. Bush...oh sorry that's Mr. McCain.
    You just keep linking yourself to the Bush policies.
    Much more talk of '100 years in Iraq' (no matter how you spin it),
    and you can kiss your chances goodbye!

    February 15, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Roger

    I like how he said with the Iraqi Governments permission? Since when did they start asking for permission?

    February 15, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Realist

    This will clearly be used as fodder by Hillary and Obama, and already is being used. Those fools know nothing about the unpleasant realities of war, or the military in general. If we were in Darfur instead trying to really help, and having soldiers killed, would they pull the plug there too? It's popular, so they keep with that position despite the sense that McCain is making. You think he wants us fighting and dying over in Iraq for 100 years?? C'mon, be objective and see that we need to make this work.

    February 15, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. Johnson

    I don't know what it is with John McCain but he needs to understand that it doesn't matter if you are in iraq for a thousand yrs, things are not going to get done unless you can bridge the gap between the 2 sects of Islam. The middle east has been a place of religious unrest for thousands of years. There is no military solution in Iraq. It doesn't matter if you leave now or a 100 yrs from now the result will still be the same unless you can unite the people of Islam. The chances of that happening are the same as uniting protestants with catholics and getting them to believe in the same things. There was no Al Quida in Iraq to start off with, we have created the problem and we are just maintaining the problem by staying in Iraq. If McCain wants to talk about genocide maybe he should start thinking about Darfur.
    McCain's pride should not be the reason that our children, husband, fathers, grandfathers, mothers, wifes, and relatives die in this war.

    February 15, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Diddy

    What is the success we're looking for in Iraq? Sadaam is caught, tried, convicted, and executed. We found no WMD. what else is there to do...but that's okay Senator McCain, President Obama will lead our troops out of Iraq and you and G.W. can go over there and stay for as long as you want.

    I believe Haliburton has moved their headquarters to Dubai not too far away. I'm sure they'll have a huge Success party for G.W.

    February 15, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Mike

    Regarding the 100 years. McCain does not understand the point. He has a 100% focused military mind and does not understand the global economic crisis we face. That is the largest threat we face now. We can no longer serve as the global police. Responsibly, gradually we must start bringing these forces home: Iraq, Germany, UK, Japan and so forth. These large deployments are no longer needed. We must stay militarily strong and I am not saying we should not maintain a low presence but not thousands. We have had a BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Program in the US. Let's extend that everywhere. The tax payer can no longer afford to pay that bill. There are higher priorities now. Do you want health care or support large deployments overseas? Those troops can be better employed right here working to build our own infrastructure.

    February 15, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. ben

    The fact we have troops all over the world is the reason we are hated all over the world

    February 15, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Yamaka

    As long as there is no casualty most Americans will agree with McCain. But the question is there will be sudden eruption of violence and our GIs will be drawn into harm's way, and take heavy casualty. That is the question he has to answer. If McCain agrees to put pressure on the Iraq Govt to take all the steps needed to get a political compromise with Sunnis and Shia, then most Americans will vote for him. For sure, if the inexperienced Obama is the Dem's Nominee, McCain has very good chance to take the White House because he is enormously experienced in all aspects of policy and Govt. Dems MUST realize the cultist following of Obama MUST stop if they want to win the General Election. A cult leader cannot be a President of USA, period.

    February 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Mike Birmingham, AL

    Holy Frijole!

    Is this guy you really want running this country? Someone continuing Bush's failed policies? Stop the imperialism, America. We don't want four more years of Bush – and that's exactly what you'll get with McCain.

    February 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Why would anyone want to repeat a failed policy and stay in Iraq for 100 years just like we're in Japan, Germany and South Korea especially when our economy is at stake. McCain is completely out of touch and wants to continue Bush's fear policy. If Americans believe McCain is ready to be president then be ready for war with Iran as Bush and Cheney have planned. There will be no rebuilding of Americas image of war and strong arm tactics around the world.

    February 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. Art

    Mr. McCain is so gung ho about Iraq and talks of victory as if it was a game. Thousands of soldiers and innocent women and children dying and billions pillfered is not a game. This was not a war, it was an invasion and is now an occupation. Though Mr. McCain is a war hero, he is dead wrong abou Iraq. There is no victory in an invasion. There is only more occupation. How would he react if a powerful nation attacked and invaded the United States of America? Would he lay down and let them impose their will? What if in this invasion, they killed his family by accidentally dropping a 500 ton bomb on their home? Would he just chalk it up to a mistake? If Mr. McCain know's anything about history he should just remember that it was the founder's of our great nation who fought guerilla warfare against the tyranny that was England and that we never surrendered until we were victorious against the superpower at that time. Mr. McCain please define victory in this illegal invasion.

    February 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Kevin

    As an American living in a foreign country, it really saddens me to see how Americans must live so they can support this and all the past wars, wake up America, waving the flag on the 4th of July or watching jets fly over the football field shouldn't bring you happiness, happiness is job security, good health care, education and a home.

    February 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  13. NW soldier

    I have been in Iraq, I know what it looks like on the ground there. McCain is correct; if we leave we will be back. Iran will attempt to step in and the place will really become chaos. If you're a middle or lower income family supporting either of the Dem. candidates ask yourself this: How much to you think oil is going to go to if we pull out of Iraq and Iran attempts to step in?

    I don't know about you but $6 or $10 a gallon gas doesn't sound all that good to me. But if either of the Dems. take office this is what we'll get.

    I'm a moderate/independent but my vote is with McCain on this on. I can't afford the gas now!

    February 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Oh yes, being in Iraq is just like being in Japan, Korea and Germany because they also have intense religious and sectarian conflict which manifests itself in the form of IEDs, headless corpses on the road, and the gradual bleed of American lives that are unfortunate enough to be stationed there. Not to mention we're pouring billions of dollars each month into all those countries. How stupid does he think we are?

    To him and his war loving counterparts, winning = staying in Iraq even if no political or economic goals for the country are being met.

    Losing = withdraw

    Can someone ask McCain why we're not still in Vietnam?

    February 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Ed K.

    McCain is cut from the same cloth as George W. Bush, he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer but he is the man the Military Industrial Complex has picked for president and he will be president. The republicans / the rich will keep their billions flowing in. Bush was a stooge set out front to play president and McCain is the perfect choice to take his place.

    February 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Cody

    What a fool. The only people we are killing in Iraq are our own men and women and innocent Iraqi civilians. Over 4,000 of our own and some estimates put the Iraqi death toll over half a million since our occupation of Iraq started.

    But Obama and Clinton are no better– they "couldn't promise" a withdrawal by 2013. What right do they have to attack McCain?

    February 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Marisol

    Sounds just like something Bush would say...
    Do we seriously want him as President?

    February 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. gerry

    The very presence of American troops and mercenaries in Iraq for the past five years has already caused genocide in that country, not to mention severe refugee and other problems in neighbouring territories.

    The ongoing presence of US troops in that country will only ignite extrtemeist reactions and keep Iraqis and other people in the area under the gun.They need a break.

    Yes, we can and must have a look at the situation, but there is no need for 100,000 US troops to be in Iraq engaged in a war.

    What many of us are not realizing is that Bush and Mc Cain are afraid to engage heavily in Afhghanistan, which is where we need to step it up, and which is exactly whrere Obama said he would focus.

    And why are they afraid?They remember what happened over there to the Riuskies.


    And Mr McCain, if he had his way, would plant US troops in every nook and cranny of the world in order to 'protect US interests'.

    Is that US interests or corporate interests?

    We need a new paradigm which will keep America strong but will also have us understanding how the world operates.We create too many enemies uneceesarily.We can't be wrong and strong.We need to get it right.

    This is why neither McCain nor Clinton can save this great nation of ours.

    February 15, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    100 years. Get ready for the draft.

    February 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. TrueIndependent

    He can't wiggle out of this. He is really into this war!!!

    Quite frankly, I am tired of the 'I am a war hero' stuff. Him and thousands others (including mu father). You don't see them taking advantage and lapping it up.

    February 15, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. Bud

    "He said any long-term troop presence in Iraq would depend on agreement from the Iraqi government."

    Oh, said we invade them for no reason, then ask them if we can stay...

    February 15, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Giuliano from Montreal

    How come everytime I hear the GOP I feel like i'm in 800 A.D.

    February 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. Ron

    Why do we need to have our troops stationed all over the world? I would rather have then in the US to protect us here than in a country somewhere else. The boon to our economy would be significant if this were done. I am sure that we would not not any foriegn troops on our territory to protect us. We should be about policing iurselves and not the rest of the world. If we concerned ourselves with our own business at home instead of everybody else's everywhere in the world, we would be a lot better off and a lot saver. We would also be a lot saver if we were not the worlds largest weapons producer and distributer. We send hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons to the middle east, and then say we have to send troops to protect ourselves against these weapons. I think we should be more like Switzerland. They are a wealthy nation and a leader in finance in the world. But they are not under threat of attack and others aren't jealous of them as some purport that others are of us. Let;s take care of our own and leave others to themselves.

    February 15, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Delta Dave

    The war itself was based on mis-information (lies) and has been a catastrophe from the beginning. Too few troops initially, the misconception that the Iriquis would welcome the troops with open arms....the list goes on. It is foolish to expend America's youth on a region which has to resolve its own conflicts.
    Sooner or later the people of Iraq will decide their own fate and the US presence is only providing a common target for their ire. The occupation of Germany and Japan after World War II was an entirely different situation. In both cases, the people of the the country were united and not a conglomeration of fractious tribes and sub-tribes who were forced into a coalition and called Iraq.
    The best that can be hoped for is a federation composed of the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia. However, given their history,it will be a region in conflict that the imposition of an occupying force will not help.
    The phased withdrawal of troops will force the Iraquis to come to terms with themselves one way or the other.
    Clinton's plan of withdrawal within 60 days is, along with most of her plans, ludicrous. Obama, on the other hand, seems to favour a phased withdrawal over a period that will give the Iraquis time to get their act together, but with no indication of long-term committment.
    In the final analysis, it was a war waged in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reason, but then – it's the oil, stupid!

    February 15, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. California Independent

    I'm voting for McCain. The 'powers that be' supporting Obama demonstrate the fact that he is NOT the one to support. McCain actually has some power in Congress.

    Obama is the typical talking head just like Bush. I don't want to imagine who the Dems would select as his cabinet. Bush was just too scary.

    February 15, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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