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. T.J.

    His poll numbers have dropped substantially in the past few weeks due to his never ending pandering; his willingness to say anything he thinks will get him elected. The extreme lefties are becoming distrustful of Obama, and this latest “Lets get out of Iraq” rhetoric is him simply trying to stop the bleeding of his left wing base. As the weeks go by it seems less and less like “Change we can believe in”, but more and more like the same old politics, exactly what he said he wasn’t. Who are you really Obama? I’m not sure you even really know. Get some core values and stick to them. So many flip flops in just a few months is really hurting your credibility.

    July 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. aaron from minneapolis

    Obama hasn't talked to Petreus? That's funny, so when he interviewed him during a house congressional hearing earlier this year that must not have been talking??? Ok, McCain keep on spreading lies.

    July 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Tom Soppe, Portland, OR

    McCain has been so wrong for so long, he sure has nerve to criticize Obama who has been right from the start about this war.

    But McCain knows he can get away with it since the McCain-worshipping media never criticizes him.

    I've had enough of McSame.

    July 15, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. William, from Cali!

    Everyone wants to play, "Captain General"..........................this ain't "play station"...............................Just keep fighting; and win the War, on all fronts!

    July 15, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. Jason

    Whatever Obama says is what I think. He's soooooooo different!

    July 15, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. jc

    I'm curious what all those screaming about the US being in Iraq are thinking about Obama's apparent plans to increase the US military presence in Afghanistan? Do those demanding that all US troops return home realize that Obama merely plans to divert a bunch of them to Afghanistan?

    July 15, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Jann, Denver CO

    His visit to Iraq will not change his position. We should have never gone to Iraq, and we now need to now get out of Iraq. The American people want out of this war as of yesterday, and John McCain will not deliver us from this non -sensical war.

    July 15, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Saad from NJ

    It gets funnier by the day.... it gets disgusting by the day.... it gets stupid by the day.... it gets marvelous by the day..... what a joke this pre-election stuff has become...

    July 15, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Wisconsin


    Hey McWar

    What's the difference between Shia and Sunni?

    Where is Al Qaeda from?

    Maybe you should know these things if you want to be President.

    July 15, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Cynthia

    I am listening to Senator Obama's plan for Afghanistan and can't wait to hear what Senator McCain has to say. I wonder where he will get the troops from since we need more in Afghanistan that are already in Iraq?

    July 15, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. Mary

    Can we have some real straight talk from McCain?

    So tell America McCain how you went about going into this unwarranted war to begin with? What was your strategy? Did you go to Iraq and see the WMD and then say lets attack?

    At the beginning you said Iraq war would be easy. Now you say people who thought it would be a walk in the park were naïve. So which one is it? From that I gather that you think YOU, McCain, are NAÏVE!!!

    July 15, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. multus vult

    Obama's site was down for maintenance yesterday. The Flipper Scrubbers were busy, purging all critique of the surge just in time for yet another teleprompter event today. He has no record, he has no strongly held positions, he has no experience, he has no shame lying, he gives pandering new meaning, he's arrogant to the nth. Good job, DNC.

    July 15, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |

    Instead of McCain looking to critique Obama's plan as if he is the professor in college, he should be getting one of his own. The way I see it, McCain is in no shape mentally of physically for that matter to be critiquing anything after the mess the Bush Administration has made of this country and how we are viewed.

    July 15, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Tom Soppe, Portland, OR

    The McSame surge is not working. It was supposed to make it so we could pull back already way before this time. You can't just periodically move even more troops to Iraq, stretch us even thinner, and then call yourself a genius for figuring out that spending even more money on ground forces has resulted in a little bit more control over there. What we need to do is get out.

    Obama is good for visiting Iraq, and its no flip flop to say he will refine his definite plans to get us out upon working out the details with generals.

    July 15, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. go away monger- Ventura ca

    He "rips" Obama on a daily basis. Perhaps if he had some real plans of his own he wouldn't feel the need to stay so negative. This is more of the same from republicans- fear, smear, and innuendo. NOT THIS TIME!

    July 15, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |





    July 15, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Wanda, elgin, texas

    The man is just old and stupid and looks like a robot any way he turns.

    July 15, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. Jan

    With all of the leftists against Romney for VP–makes me think they are running scared and McCain should pick him! Now the blogs are full of nasty remarks about religion–did not hear it against Wright and his religion of hate from the libs!

    July 15, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. CB

    Obama has been right since DAY 1 on Iraq. Bush, McCain and the rest have been covering their buts.

    Immaturity is using your war machine for every little thing because you're too weak to try other approaches.

    Maturity is SEEING that we are gonna need to get off OIL if we are to survive.

    July 15, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz




    July 15, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. jc

    As for those calling Bush or McCain neocons (as if that is an insult?), you probably need to do a little more reading. Neocons are staunchly against nation-building, which is exactly what is and has been going on in Iraq for years now. I'm not sure what I would characterize Bush's policies (other than poor), but it is certainly not a neoconservative agenda. When someone puts the label neocon on Bush, it makes that person appear like they don't know what they are talking about.

    July 15, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |

    To rip? Why in the heck doesn't he write up his own policy so we can try we can make an informed decision between the two men... Unbelievable...

    July 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. pakuna

    Oh yes Master get us out of Iraq and send them boys over to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Master said Iraq was not our War. When he sends them boys and girls to Afghanistan and Pakistan then it will be our War. So do not fear the Master will get us out of Iraq. Vote Obama the Master of all.

    July 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. SHAME


    July 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. german man

    So many American people have their heads in the sand. Don't they realize that Hitler was Germany's "Man of Change"?

    He ran on the same platform .... he was going to bring about great changes to benefit everyone. Well, he certainly did!

    The citizens rallied to support him – cheered him on as they watched in idolization. Sounding familiar? And after all the "changes", we know what happened next.

    With Barack we will be asking for bigger government, bigger taxes to support all the "giveaway" programs he is proposing, less money in everyone's pockets, and the loss of even more small businesses. You think big business runs everything now? Just wait!

    The government already wants to tell us what light bulbs to buy, how our food should be grown (and who can grow it), what we can and can't wear, what can legally be put into our childrens' vaccinations, etc. Pretty soon we'll be told we can only have so many children (like China already does). Where does it all end?

    I have thought and have seen the paralleism between the Hitler campaign and the Obama campaign. It's scary but true.
    The people of Germany idolized Hitler and fell at his feet, much like Americans are doing to Obama.

    Hitler had a hidden agenda as I believe Obama has as well. There are way to many "unknowns" about Obama. I don't think America really likes this guy that much, they just want change and since McCain is a republican, America automatically tunes him out because of Bush.

    McCain is very different from Bush and will be the best candidate to lead America. I pray America will come to her senses and vote Obama out.....if not, America will enter very dark days as did Germany under Hitler.

    July 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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