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."

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

    Here's the difference between Iraq and Germany or Japan, Senator.

    Germany – not trying to kill us.

    Iraq – trying to kill us.

    Clear difference, I don't understand how you don't get that.

    February 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Randy - Denver

    While I disagree with Mr. McCain's stand on several issues if anyone thinks we have no intention, and that we should have no intention, of leaving a standing force in Iraq they are living in a dream world. I disagree that this war should have ever been waged, I disagree that the surge is doing what it was intended to do, but the fact is because of the disastorous policy of approving an invasion of this soverign country for no real reason, we are stuck now cleaning up the mess. this will require a long term commitment. Not a fighting force but a PRESENCE in the area. We probably should (although it really angers me that we must) establish a permanent training base there, much like in Germany, send all the "troops" home, bring in some desert training experts and their families and start training troops there for desert fighting. With our dependence on oil we will be fighting there in the deserts again we might as well start training there and getting to know the locals so we will not have the same stupid mistakes that were made this time vis-a-vis cultural violations the next time we fight there. besides a base usually makes morde friends when the families are there then when it is jsut soldiers.

    February 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Christian, Tampa FL

    McCain is on the wrong side of this issue. Iraq has only compromised U.S. national security, as evidenced by numerous intelligence reports and analyses, and the American people are tired of the senseless deaths of American soldiers and the squandering of tax money that could be better applied on our own nation.

    Iraq should become the most important issue once again during this election. We cannot continue the insanity.

    February 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. David, Tampa, Fl

    Let's draft all the military service age children, grandchildren, etc. of all the social, political and economic elite of this country train them as Privates and send them in for the duration. My guess is we will be out in very short order.

    February 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. An Agnostic Democrat

    Nice parsing of words and "what I really meant to say was ..." from the "Straight Talk Express". Boy, if I closed my eyes, I'd think Hillary was talkin'! These entrenched, double-speaking politicians curdle my blood.

    February 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Independant

    How correct he is. Why can't the other two see it. Way too busy . I do belive Hillary understands. But for her appoinet , Yakied , Yak.

    As of now , my Vote would be for McCain.

    February 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. Jimmy206

    Good for McCain. I am so sick of these morons who take a statement like that, put absolutely no context to it, then run around saying, "McCain wants us to fight the war for 100 more years!! Don't vote for him!" Fortunately voters are getting smarter and look beyond the surface of one-sentence soundbites (I hope).

    February 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. MediaJunkie, Arlington, VA

    I will likely vote for the Democrat in November, but I believe McCain has thoroughly clarified what he meant, and people need to stop trying to spin the 100 years comment to mean more than it does. At the same time, McCain should recognize that both Clinton and Obama support a phased withdrawal of troops., and not spin it so it seems like they are saying, and on this day the troops will suddenly disappear. But I guess without spin, it's not politics.

    February 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. jtg

    John McCain simply advocates 'more of the same', i.e., continued unwanted/un-needed presence in Iraq; chaos in all sectors of our economy precipitated by uncontrolled spending & back breaking national debt; continued, unmitigated greed on the part of Bush cronies across the country and around the world; and the continued
    lies to and disdain for the American people and US constitution by a totally inept. contemptible administration. Yes, John McCain and the all enveloping Republican lovefest really have something to run on and advocate for the American people. Give us a break!

    February 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. Peace

    Why 100 years while he wont be alive by then!!! A dream without any support.

    February 15, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. Mike in Cleveland

    Since Germany, S. Korea and Japan are our allies now and living in relative peace, why are we wasting money ear marked for the military?
    Seriously, how many other countries have a military presence in multiple countries. Think of how many problems might be solved if we closed all of these bases. Maybe our military wouldn't be spread so thin and we could really go after the terrorists, the right way.

    February 15, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Franky

    100 years?!?!? Isn't that a lot and a little too much info??? I don't even know what to think about this war anymore. I don't even get it......

    February 15, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. dave

    And what business does our military have occupying soverign nations, exactly? If I'm not mistaken, American solders in Saudi Arabia were a major factor in why we were attacked in the first place. Oh that's right, they hate us for our freedom. That makes much more sense.

    February 15, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. kevin from alaska

    The point of troop surge in Iraq - as expressed when it began - was part of a bigger plan to bring peace and stability to the region so that the Iraqi gov't could meet a set of political benchmarks.

    Since the troop surge started 1 year ago, they have met 3/18 benchmarks.

    If you do the math, McCain's right, 100 years is too long. It'll only be 6 more years (3 x 6 = 18). Think about it, we've already been in Iraq for 5 years. What's another 6? Right?

    February 15, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Fact Check

    I used to respect McCain. When he toured the marketplace in Baghdad 2 years ago during the worst of the violence and then came back and said, "I was able to walk without any fear through the whole market and it was like any neighborhood in the middle of America," I forever lost respect for him. Why? Because what he neglected to mention (and what he knew full well) is that before they let McCain into the market, the US military had swept a 4-block section of the marketplace, had completely surrounded it preventing anyone from going in, and had BlackHawk helicopters flying overhead. So, from that day forward, it was obvious that the Straight Talk Express was over. It was obvious that he was willing to sell his integrity for what he believed would be a good political move. Shameless.

    February 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. RPF

    We shouldn't still be in German, Japan and South Korea.
    "Just bring them home."

    February 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. Ron Gage

    I have a simple question for Mr. McCain and all the other "stay the course" people out there...

    How exactly do you plan to determine if we "have won" this so-called war on terror? How exactly do you plan to determine that the terrorists have left Iraq? How exactly do you plan to determine that the terrorists have not just "gone into hiding" – however they may accomplish that? How exactly do you tell a terrorist from a hard working family man?

    Please be specific in your answers – and please actually answer the question instead of providing mindless rhetoric.


    February 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  18. Regular Gonzalez

    It's not a matter of how long we're in Iraq. It's a matter of forcing them to be friends with us at any cost, because if we don't, they could actually decide for themselves what was the right course of action... JUST AS GOD INTENDED.

    February 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. krissy

    This is the SAME argument that Republicans used during the last election, and little has changed in Iraq politically. We NEED to motivate the Iraqis to step up. John McCain's casual attitude towards the enormous sacrifices America is making is insulting.

    February 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    I agree with Johnson that there is no military solution in Iraq but is "getting out" the solution or will that make it worse? I'm not saying staying in is the solution either, but more that all candidates need to present a middle ground on this, this answer is not "maintain military presence indefinitely" and the answer is not "leave now with no plan".

    February 15, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  21. TheLeftNut

    It was a stupid thing for a presidential candidate to say.

    I'm sick of presidents who say stupid things.

    He should just admit it.

    February 15, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. August

    Of course McCain would "clarify" what he meant when he made his "100 years in Irag" comment. Also, he said that Sen. Obama & Sen. Clinton's plans would lead to GENOCIDE....so he's worried about genocide now? So he must not be aware of all the genocide happening in Africa right now (and that has been happeing for years now). Thus, he spoke those words and didn't think. He made himself look ignorant. Because if he was really worried about genocide and protecting innocent peoples lives, he would be talking about stopping it in Africa in hid campaign. This makes me wonder really why they (Bush admin. , McCain) want us in Irad so badly....could it have something to do with a certain natural resource...?

    February 15, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Regarding the perception of the US in world due to this war, I don't think it fair that we have become "the bad guy". Next time theres a big war and countries need saving you can bet they will come crying back the US. It happened before and will probably happen again.

    February 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Tony

    100 Years??? It will be more like 100 days after November.

    February 15, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. Joanne, Indianapolis

    I was never for this war. However, due primarily to policies conducted by members of Bush's administration a bad situation has been made into a nightmare situation. To my way of thinking, "we broke it, we fix it." McCain is not afraid of taking unpopular positions and I believe he is the only candidate who can get us out the right way.

    February 15, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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