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. Ben

    McCain should stop talking and go get on "the Google" as GW can say, or "watch the internet" as John McCain said. These dinosaurs are funny.

    July 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Candy West Virginia

    McCain better watch out. Every time he has criticized Obama, it has backfired and turned out that Obama has been right. Goes to show you who has the better judgement. Obama has been right on just about everything so far – the war, the stupid gas tax holiday, on Afghanistan, on diplomatic relations with foreign leaders. Goes to show you it takes judgement over so called experience. George Bush had so called experience.

    July 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Teflon McCain

    Can McCain even differentiate b/t Shiia and Sunni yet??? That could lay the groundwork of HIS foreign policy!!

    July 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Daniel

    Lorna – How do you know that it is a disaster? Because of what the liberal media tells you? Have you ever talked to someone who has been there. Obviously we don't want to be there, but we are, and we have to finish the job. You are right, one doesn't need to travel to Iraq to have an opinion about it, but honestly, one would have a much clearer picture of the truth after visiting, which is why Obama should keep his mouth shut until he has visited and seen the situation on the ground.

    July 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. Eric

    Mccain, you don't make the difference between Shia and Sunni, you still think Tcheckoslovakia exists, you still think the Iraq war was a good thing, you voted againt a GI bill which shows your contempt for the men and women in uniform. You have shown all the signs you have not the judgement to be Commander in Chief.

    I can't wait to hear Obama laying out his strategy that will include different levels of intervention (military, agressive diplomacy, sanctions, etc.) and then listen to all the GOP talking heads, who haven't been able in the last 8 years to develop a comprehensive foreign policy, to jump on any stupid detail and distort the truth, as usual. Oh well.

    July 15, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. Tony, Miami

    Senator McEnd whether you get order to bomb people or you decide to do it on your own, being a bomber doesn't mean you know it all about foreign policy.

    July 15, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. 11 Bravo

    oh, NOW you want to fight in Afghanistan? Obama has been saying that all along.

    Please, Senator McCain, TRY to keep up!

    July 15, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    McCain rips Obama foreign policy?!

    does McSame have a brain? or he is too senile to articulate a point of view on these issues.....he forgot afghanistan; now mcshame is for it.

    glad Obama is dictating the debate....hope McSenile can keep up!

    July 15, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Jamaal Kansas

    Mostly all american have never even been to Iraq or Afghanistan but that doesn't mean we don't Know that the war in Iraq has caused to many deaths for no reason or that We are in Iraq but we still haven't found Bin Laden and are further now that we have ever been thanks to Mcbush and His Brother Bush. I have never been to either of those places but that does not make my opion or anyone elses Opion less worthy Mcbush is feeling the Pressure of the Campaign because Obama is doing better than and No one is Listen to Mcbush and this article is an example why!

    July 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. McCain sucks canes

    I didn't know how much republicans hated blacks and other minorities. It is apparent that republicans only want the votes and if these minorities are running within their party to advance their racists agenda.

    July 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Obama Supporter from FL

    I'm sure McCain's well-protected tour of the green zone really gave him a feel for "the facts on the ground." Please.

    July 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Enlightened Voter

    john, john, john, you have looked like a moron continuously by bashing Obama and it has been a slap in the face for you every time. It's a shame with all your so called experience you lack such poor judgement. Obama's judgement has been impeccable so far something we need in a president. I'll take his judgement over your so called experience any day. BTW Barack served 8 yrs as Illinois Senator and 3 as US Senator. Prior to that he was a Constitutional Law Scholar.

    July 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. ANGIE

    and just what are your plans mcbush whats the matter no oil in afghanistan did your buddy bush tell you to ignore afghanstan due to the fact there is no oil!!!!!!!!! mcbush why dont you retire and leave us with senator obama who has a clue and is brilliant unlike you you senile fool!!!!!!!!!

    July 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. Ms. RDS

    @Joe...uhh in order to refine his position, he as to state it FIRST, which is what he is doing. McCain is just trying to get some come back b/c he had a major speech on the war planned for Thursday and Barack stepped on him first...

    July 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  15. Realistic

    Anonymous: With Obama not able to stand firm for anything at this point in time by the time November comes people will see more and more of who this weak candidate is. He will lose by a landslide.

    July 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. SIMP

    Mccain can't remember what day it is let alone try to tear down Obama's stratagey for this war. Mccain has that angry streak in him just like bush, you mccain supporters better beware, this guy is scary.

    Obama all the way!!!

    July 15, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Yo clown! He talked to Petraeus the last time he was in Washington. Where were you? Campaigning somewhere?

    July 15, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. carrie hussein obama

    thanks for the info anonymous
    no one is stopping this train,
    we're moving all the way to the white house
    the war is responsible for destroying the middle east,creating more enemies for the us and making the world a very unsafe place
    obama is the only man who can clean this up


    July 15, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. obamacrat

    I wish McCain would get on a plane and head for Checkloslavakia. Maybe by the time he figures out that it doesn't exist anymore the election will be over.

    July 15, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Ohio

    My question for McCain is how he can talk about the economy when he knows nothing about it and lives in a completely different economic America then most of us. Not to mention that his chief economic advisor tells us that when we lose our jobs, homes, health care, and every other stable of the American dream, that it is just our minds going goofy.

    July 15, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  21. Harry C

    A turncoat has no rights to tell us what we REAL AMERICAN'S need as a President! Does McCain have no shame for the lives of other prisoners he gave up for a smoke.? McShame belongs in a war crimes prison.

    July 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. SDunn

    I don't see anything wrong with Obama going to Iraq. His plan is to set a new mission to withdrawal when he becomes President. I'm sure he wants to meet with the soldiers there who are in harms way. At least he cares about our soldiers and our veterans and has a record in Congress to prove it unlike John McCain who didn't even want to support the new GI bill. Obama has not flip flopped or changed his stance on this issue. McCain on the other hand has flip flopped 61 times as recorded on many websites so far from topics like immigration reform to privitization of social security. I don't trust a thing McCain says on any given day because he might change his mind in the next hour at another press conference.

    July 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Don

    When u point to Polls i have two words for you New Hampshire and if i want to be specific Dem Primaries 2008. Most people make their true choices when they are casting their ballot, remember most all last minute voters went with Clinton?

    July 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. JohnBoy

    I like the poll we have in November, no other poll matters.

    American for a American president.

    McCain 08

    July 15, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. dEMOBRAT

    Yeah, but Obama was up nearly 10 pts in the polls a month ago. Obama is now experiencing the media backlash. They don't love you forever.

    July 15, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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