July 15th, 2008
10:00 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain rips Obama foreign policy, lays out Afghanistan plan

McCain criticized Obama's foreign policy Tuesday.

McCain criticized Obama's foreign policy Tuesday.

(CNN) —
Shortly after Barack Obama laid out his foreign policy vision in Washington Tuesday, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain criticized his proposals as naïve and premature, attacking the Illinois senator’s opposition to the surge policy in Iraq and highlighting his own proposal for victory in Afghanistan.

“He is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time,” McCain said at a campaign event in New Mexico. “In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy.”

Obama will travel to Iraq later this month as part of a congressional delegation that will include Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, both of whom have been mentioned as possible running mates for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

At his foreign policy speech this morning, Obama attacked McCain's position on the state of the conflict. “Senator McCain said — just months ago — that ‘Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.’ I could not disagree more," he said. "Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq."

McCain fired back roughly an hour later. “Senator Obama will tell you we can't win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq. In fact, he has it exactly backwards. It is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan,” McCain said. “It is by applying the tried and true principles of counter-insurgency used in the surge - which Senator Obama opposed - that we will win in Afghanistan. With the right strategy and the right forces, we can succeed in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I know how to win wars. And if I'm elected President, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory.”

McCain’s Afghanistan proposal includes the addition of more brigades, the launch of an integrated nationwide security plan for the civilian population, greater military engagement of Taliban forces and unity of command, a doubling of the size of the Afghan army, a boost in for civilian-military engagement, and the appointment of an “Afghanistan Czar” – a White House-based national security official reporting to the president whose task is to bring the war to an end.

In his Tuesday remarks, he also stressed non-military assistance to the Afghan government and economy, and the promotion of alternative crops as a way to end drug trafficking in that region.

McCain added that special attention must be paid to Pakistan, “where terrorists today enjoy sanctuary,” calling for the strengthening of local tribes who are willing to fight terrorists there, as well as greater non-military assistance to the civilian government.

“Senator Obama has spoken in public about taking unilateral military action in Pakistan. In trying to sound tough, he has made it harder for the people whose support we most need to provide it,” said the Arizona senator.

(Updated with additional McCain remarks)

Filed under: John McCain • Popular Posts
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Lorna, NY

    One does not have to travel to Iraq to know that we SHOULD NOT BE THERE! I've never been there and I know it is a disaster!

    July 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. Linda. Boston, MA

    He said the war in Iraq was a strategic blunder before we ever even started it.... and he got that one correct. He doesn't need to visit Iraq or Afghanistan to know that we need to get out. The exact manner of our exit no doubt requires consultation from those in command. But the need to get out is crystal clear.

    July 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. Joe

    I was thinking the same thing when I read that Obama was going to give his speech today. Isn't he the one who said last week that he would meet with the Generals on the ground first and then possibly refine his position? I'm confused. Once again talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    July 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. whiner

    mccain just now remembered the war in afghanistan.obama must have reminded him.old-timers disease is setting in on the granpa mcbush.

    July 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Looks like Barack Obama isn't doing as bad as Hillary and her supporters had hoped, wanting everyone to believe that Obama was doomed without dear old Hillary. Well apparently Obama doesn't need her.

    "A new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading McCain nationally by nine points, 50%-41%. Per a release, “Independent voters split 44%-44%… Sen. McCain has a slight 47%-44% edge among men voters and a larger 49%-42% lead among white voters. But black voters back Sen. Obama 94%-1%, while women support him 55%-36%. Obama leads 63-%-31% percent among voters 18 to 34 years old and 48%-44% among voters 35 to 54, while voters over 55 split with 45% for McCain and 44% for Obama.”

    July 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Matt

    Exactly, President McCain!!

    Obama is giving the same old speech on something he has no knowledge of.

    Why even go to Afghanistan and Iraq if he has already made up his mind?

    Obama doesn't have a clue! The media needs to stop propping him up and making excuses for him!

    Anybody but Obama '08.

    July 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Wisconsin


    So singing bomb bomb Iran, and talking about killing them with smoking is the "experienced" way to go?

    So singing bomb bomb Iran, and talking about killing them with smoking is the "experienced" way to go?

    July 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Andy J, NY

    Well, i hate to say it, but McCain has a point. Usually you get the facts on the ground, talk to the guys in charge of the war, like the great General Patraeus, maybe even take a visit to the place for which intend on making policy, and then lay out a plan.

    I really can't stand Obama's arrogance.

    July 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Obama opposed the surge in Iraq and said it wouldn't work. Well it did, McCain was right Obama is wrong. Now Obama wants to surge in Afganistan. Strange how promotes the same policy he rejected.

    July 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Jamaal Kansas

    Mcbush you are a liar and you want to stay in Iraq when Bin laden is free and Laughing at the United States and Bush and McBush for there ignorance in Iraq when Bin Laden is in Afghanstan

    July 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. dr.no

    mccain couldnt find afghanistan on a map of just afghanistan.

    July 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. Donny


    Wake me when Great-Grandpa McBush has finished talking.

    Obama 08

    July 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Jon

    But what McCain has forgotten is that Obama has his amazing judgment and does not need to perform fact-finding missions before presenting the facts like other people.

    July 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Kirk, DC

    One thing about McCain has left an imprint in my memory. I am an independent and I vivdly remember him taking a stroll in a market in Bagdad about 2 years ago and declaring it secured. It was later found that the whole thing was staged.
    When it comes to fact finding missions on the ground, I don't trust McCain one bit. That one incident is enough for me for never ever voting for the guy.


    July 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. Jenny, Rio Vista, CA

    McFossil is a joke. I remember his trip around an Iraqi market. I remember him singing about bombing Iran, I remember him joking about killing iranian civilians with cigarettes, I remember him saying that we could be in Iraq for 100 years, I remember him lying about his record concerning veterans... and that was to a veteran's face, I don't recall him correcting Bush about the GI bill, McCain voted against it but now is taking kudos for it. McCain you are a liar.

    July 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Wisconsin

    Hey McWar,

    I don't need to go to Iraq to know that this war need to end!

    July 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Independent Voter


    Ready – Fire – Aim.

    July 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. Abby

    McCain does nothing but wait for an Obama plan then 'rip' it. He is an angry man…his very persona is about retaliation and anger while Obama’s is hope and preemptive action.

    OBAMA 08 for hope and peace

    July 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. Ian

    Nice to see CNN increasing their vocabulary and not using the word "slams" all the time.

    July 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. Naomi

    McLame is grabbing at straws. Even GW Bush is doing some of the things that Barack mention regarding international affairs.

    It's time to move into the future people. McLame is part of the past–let's move forward.

    July 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. McCain sucks canes

    No Walmarts in Afghanistan old man!

    July 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. PAT


    July 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. Frank

    Obama's making a speech before he even gets all the facts from the guy in charge over there....ha...ha....ha....another bone-head move! And you want this guy to be president??? Oh my....

    July 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Greg, NY

    To Joe above,

    I don't know why people were freaking out about a possible policy change on Iraq. 'Refine' has a different definition than 'redefine.'

    When you refine your position, you enhance it, make it better. Redefining would've been the problem word. By refining his policy, he'll make the withdrawal from Iraq even smarter and safer.

    Look up the actual definitions and you'll understand that.

    July 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Andy J, NY

    Linda and Lorna-

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Its been a disaster? Why have you not heard anything about Iraq in the news for the past 6 months? Ill tell you why- Because things are finally starting to progress. Anyone who has been there will tell you things are so much better than they were. So stop spouting out the garbage about the war being lost, because if you shut your mouth and opened your eyes and your mind, you would see that we are making tremendous gains in Iraq, and we will win in Afghanistan, and we will defeat islamic extremism. Your lack of faith is disturbing.

    Women like you shouldn't be allowed in combat, i wouldn't want someone like you to have my back. Its obvious you would run and hide to save your own skin, to hell with everyone else. Way to go, ladies.

    July 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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