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. mk

    McCain is completely out of touch with reality. Fear politics is his only hope.

    July 15, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Judgement vs Rash Coughups

    "Sen. McCain said _ just months ago _ that Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq. I could not disagree more. 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," Obama said.

    (With the news on Monday et all about the historical death toll in Afgh, McSame is now rashly coughing up common sense that Obama had from the beginning!)

    While McSame has accused Obama of favoring surrender in Iraq by outlining a troop withdrawal timetable, McCain told reporters on Monday, "I think we need to do whatever is necessary (in Afghanistan) and that could entail more troops." (You see? Why wait until things turn haywire before you take action – because you lack good judgement like Obama!!!)

    July 15, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. Adam

    In the same quote McCain states, "Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq," Then says "...we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq."

    So McCain really means Iraq has drained resources to finish the job in Afghanistan.

    Old man McCain has no vision.

    July 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Linda K.

    I'll make this easy for you, Joe.

    In today's speech, I'm sure Obama will lay out the basic principles, the foundation, of his foreign policy. When it comes to the details, he can refine those with more information.

    That's not flip-flopping. It's sound judgment. First the big picture. Then the details. Got it?

    July 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. Janey for McCain

    Attempting to listen to Obama's speech is about as exciting as watching paint dry.....I cannot understand why he is promoting surges in Afghanistan while, at the same time, wanting to cut and run from Iraq when success is so close. Does he really think America will have any credibility in the world and be welcomed anywhere if we desert Iraq? Osama terrorists are gone from Iraq because of the US and it's heros. He knocks our success in Iraq because he was against it. Now he wants to boost his ego by being "for" a war! Go figure–egomania does not become a Presidential candidate!

    July 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. NObama

    "McCain to rip Obama foreign policy".

    Should be easy.

    July 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. TF

    McCain's strategic plan is to keep the American dollar weak and oil prices high. McCain is doing exactly what Bush has been planning for years. McCain ask Bush why he won't release the Naval oil reserves we continue to buy on the open market. Bush is purchasing this oil to keep oil prices high. If he cared he would stop buying oil for the Naval reserve and release for it's original purpose, which is to help America in a time of crisis. Guess what we are in a energy crisis. Fuel has gone up 200% in 2 years.

    July 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    So he will go to the Middle East and then REFINE his plans. REFINE = FINE TUNE. You don't have to go there to get the big picture. The big picture is that we shouldn't have gone to Iraq in the first place and we shouldn't have turned our attention from Afghanistan. Afghanistan is falling apart before our very eyes. You don't have to go there to know that. The big picture is that once there the Iraq war was executed poorly and now, although violence is down, the surge itself is an illusion as the issues that divide the Iraqi people are not being addressed. You don't have to go there to know that. The big picture is that we can't afford this war and our military families are being strained beyond belief because of Iraq. You don't have to go there to know that.

    People get a clue. McCain is just a continuation of the failed Bush policies that have gotten us into this mess in the first place.

    July 15, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. R.I.F.

    It's not like McCain's actually been in the combat zones. They go and tour the markets with 100 troops following their every move. That's not exactly "getting a feel on the ground", It's like going through the streets of Beverly Hills to get a state of the US economy. McCain's out of touch.

    July 15, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. dennis from chicago

    o bama the great PROFESSOR talks today 7 15 08 about what could have beens...... excellent he is so resourceful.... a history teacher in the mix..... o bama talk is cheap yap yap yap.... i did not vote for the iraq war because i voted PRESENT.... give it up you are reckless ....America needs leadership not a story teller.....

    July 15, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Rob

    Well, if Obama wants all troops moved from Iraq to Afghanistan / Pakistan, how does it help us? the troops are still there. do you guys really think that the troops will come home (dont forget that he will have to leave many soldiers/marines in iraq, for logistics and protection of the american civil workers)??? dont expect too much from your sunny boy Obama.

    Rob from NC


    July 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. NotFallingInLine.org

    Obama's Pair of Teleprompters for President '08

    Knoxville NFIL

    July 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Dave in Atlanta

    I find it interesting how these republican politicians go to Iraq, walk around a little bit in the green zone, and then come back acting like they have seen the "real Iraq" like one comedian said: That's like going to the Olive Garden and then saying you've been to Italy.

    I don't think McCain's recent trips to Iraq give him more perspective on Iraq than Obama has.

    July 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. jimmy velman


    July 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Robert

    the run down

    Senator Obama has the subtle advantage of youth, not just in the physical but in 'raring to go'. He seems to be gaining raw speed over his slow but otherwise decent opponent – even as Senator Mccain is complaining that voters are tired of the relentless cable news (infact, its Senator Mccain that is worn out). The Obama campaign is turning on the 'turbo' speed, intent on running down the GOP senator, who will hop along from issue to issue long after Obama has moved forth.(Long after = hours after).
    Buckle up folks! No speed limits on the highway of democracy.

    July 15, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. D. Hunter

    Old Man McCain couldn't rip himself out of a wet paperbag!

    July 15, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    The only thing McSame can rip is his hip. OUCH! We don't need a 75-year-old President who is ALREADY confused on the facts!

    July 15, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  18. McSTUPID

    Is Loserman going to be by your side to wisper in your ear when you get lost in your own head again?

    Forget being president, McCain shouldn't be allowed to drive!

    July 15, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Denise Groves

    Lets see, first he criticizes him for not visiting in 2 years, then he wants to critize him when he does. Which is it McCain?

    July 15, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. John Y

    As a registered Republican who has totally given up on the neocons you lost me when you said you would NOT raise taxes and would in fact cut more where you could. As a nation currently at war thanks to the moron in our Capitol currently destroying the Republic and the party named for it, not raising taxes at this time to pay for this unnecessary occupation is ignorant at best. To get this ship sailing again we need to end this occupation and raise taxes on those paying them to provide the necessary boost to our economy, namely other Nation's trust in our solvency, to get back moving in a forward direction.

    July 15, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  21. Ken

    We needed a surge in Iraq and we needed a surge in Afghanistan we took our eye of Afghanistan now they are resurging themselves and traveling between Iraq and Afghanistan. The decision made this election we will live with 30 yrs from now, I will be 54 yrs old, do we contine rto burn fossil fuels for the next 30 yrs, do we stay in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next 30 yrs, McCain will be dead but America will keep paying for it. Iraq wants us out, lets get out.

    July 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Deb

    just shut up obama and pick hillary for VP already. we'll take care of the rest .... puma ....

    July 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. larry buchas

    Yeah McSame,

    The war we sanctioned was in Afghanistan. Barack always understood it. You and Bush didn't. You were focused on the oil in Iraq with Bush.

    Osama Bin Laden has been set free to roam and to plot his next move. What happened? You and Bush cut and run from the real war on terror.

    Now we're fighting on two fronts and you're interested in sarting a third. We don't have enough troops to cover all of this. Now we need a surge in Afghanistan.

    Thanks for nothing. And no thanks for a $3 trillion war and loss of unnecessary lives.

    July 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. Stan

    I noticed Barrack didn't mention Afghanistan being a "distraction" in his latest speach, even though we still have more troops there than in Iraq. Funny he has all these "plans" yet has not even been there.
    Dare I mention Afghanistan? The one Bill Clinton got us into? Yes-Clinton. And don't tell me otherwise-I was one of the first to go there back in '98

    When I got back, they wanted me to take that very controversial anthrax shot-the one suspected to cause to birth defects. I put in my paperwork instead & retired-no shot for this guy.

    Bill & Barrack can "stick it" in each other....

    McCain/Powell '08

    July 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. A Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    I see that the current Repug strategy is to try and label Obama as a flip-flopper. So, if you can't say anything positive about McBush then make things up about Obama? Is that it? So tell me, when McSame flip-flops, is it on purpose or is actually the beginning stages of Alzheimers?

    July 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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