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. Cracka lova

    Rob we honor your service.....but this redneck he doesn't salute the flag is BS.....he hasn't attended any briefings ....I'm sure he has been brief more than you know through the primary.......from listening to you......you are not in Iraq or Afghanistan either......it is easy to uphold the mission from thisside of the pond.......well my brother is over there and my mother would like him back in one piece......I have done my service......and the rethugs have no exit strategy and the IRAQIS WANT US OUT ..........sounds like an Obama call to me

    July 15, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. karen-phoenix

    McCain is NUTS!!!! I listened to all of Obama's foreign policy and it is right on!!!! The man has judgement beyond his years!!! McCain will get us in more trouble with the rest of the world. WE NEED PEACE and quickly!!! Our troops in Afganistan need help which is where we should have been from the beginning. Please, people, listen to Obama!!!! I DO NOT WANT OLD EXPERIENCE!!!!

    July 15, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. dAVE

    Obama's foreign policy speech today was BRILLIANT, 100% spot-on and it shows an understanding of these complex issues on a level that McCain simply doesn't posess. Anybody who disagrees hasn't been listening to the candidates.

    "Stay the course", oil and war are all McCain knows, and he would be a disaster as President. The old guy hasn't got a clue!

    Time for a change. O8ama!!

    July 15, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Sue

    We are in Iraq because of oil. McBush will continue to follow the smell of money, and not pay attention to where the real terroists are which is Afghanistan. I thought Obamas lay out of his plan is well thought out and has more merit than any plan the old warmonger has!

    July 15, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. PG

    McSame is pathetic! Oh, now he cares about Afghanistan.

    Latinos for Obama!

    July 15, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Dan, MA

    Of course we all know John McSame's plan for Iraq. Send wave after wave of American people to be slaughtered until we finally tire them out and "win." Sure, the country will be in ruins when the few surviving soldiers return. They'll probably be homeless and jobless with no hope of the future. And most, if not all, of their buddies will be dead or severely injured. But it'll all be worth it, right?

    And before you ask: no, he doesn't have a plan for anywhere else. He must have forgotten about them in shadow of his "great plans."

    July 15, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. TS

    Agreed – tanner, ca. Not only is this site one-sided but also appears to have many college aged kids that are so naive because they really do not know or understand life or the world yet and are drinking the flip-flop, hypocritical Obama Kool-aide.

    July 15, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Kevin Hutchinson

    I am NOT your friend old man, stop calling us your friend NOW!!!

    July 15, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Canadian black man for Obama.

    MCcain Bush notice every good moves Obama has talk about and Bush has inplement some of Obama's plan. Like Striking enemy post inside Pakistan, Although he criticised Obama when he said it and McCain also criticized Obama's plans, but short say he should not have disclose it out in the public.

    Old Mccain please stop flip floping and before you call anyone fli flop look at mirror.

    July 15, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Gee

    Please explain what War has McCain won??? He states he knows how to win wars... which one is he talking about. How getting caught in an illegal war (Vietam) qualifys you for Winning a war???

    July 15, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. who care about maccain

    Love My USA
    You sound like someone who never got love growing up that all you want to do is hate wow you are bitter and that is sad you need a hug please people give Love My USA a hug

    July 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. Pat Riot

    Forget rationality. This is an unconstitutional war. Our President has illegally put our service men and women in harms way. Obama is no better kids. Even after reading intelligence reports that state Iran has no intention to develop nuclear weapons he is still suggesting they are a threat. This CFR errand boy has been groomed from day one to maintain the empire.

    July 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |


    July 15, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. fedup

    I couldn't agree more with every word that Bill said about both Obama and McCain. I wish there were another candidate who truly could help this country return to the country I've always perceived it to be....The greatest country in the World. Sadly, our economy, people's perceptions of the war, gas prices, etc. are bringing the American people down. We're desperate for things to get better, and are believing just about everything that we want to hear.

    July 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. California Gold

    Come on McCain, you just want to bomb the living daylights out of them too. Got another diddy to Sing-A-Long like your "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb. Bomb, Bomb Iran." Give 'em some of that American might and fright. Shock and awe. Kill those women, elderly, and children who only look like innocent civilians. They all need to go. Everyone is suspicious.

    Uh Oh.... wait.....uh, hold on a minute. Looks like we have no fuel. Our transports and bombers won't fly without fuel. Our jeeps and tanks won't move without fuel. Oops. Someone forgot about a realistic McCain energy policy.

    July 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. Tina

    Here is a man who doesn't know that Czechoslovakia hasn't existed for 15 yrs. Who thinks that Putin is the President of Germany. He doesn't know the difference between shia and sunni. Doesn't know that he voted against birth control, the GI Bill, Veteran health care. Doesn't remember that he said he doesn't know anything about the economy.

    John McCain is
    Ignorance I Can Believe In

    July 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Phil, FL

    Bush said today "bear with me, I'm 62 and sometimes forget".

    Be warned, people.

    Age matters.

    July 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. nobushthirdterm.com

    ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz..... anyone notice that his audience is almost all white and really old? I nearly fell asleep listening to him sputter, stutter, and drone on and on and on and on....

    I could give a better speech than McCain when I was in high school. I wouldn't trust that man to talk to our enemies. But then, he'd probably have that old weasel Lieberman there to whisper in his hearing aid.

    female, 50+, white, voting and donating for Obama

    July 15, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Fed up with the lies

    McCain's foreign policy is Bush's foreign policy. How's that gone so far?

    Obama '08

    July 15, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Casey

    Matt... when were YOU there?

    Yeah. Thought so.

    July 15, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Rave

    McPain could spell Foreign Policy... WOW!! Now That's news.
    I thought he knew nothing except War and George Bush.
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    July 15, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. benjoya

    I cannot understand why he is promoting surges in Afghanistan while, at the same time, wanting to cut and run from Iraq

    um, because the people we're fighting in afghanistan provide a safe haven for those who attacked us? over your head, huh?

    July 15, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Anna, SW Missouri

    I know this is off subject, but since Bush gave his speech today and the Republicans are all for drilling off shore, I was wondering if anyone has asked McCain or Bush how many states are coming to them and saying that they want off shore drilling for their state? Is this more grandstanding, or are there actually states that will allow it to happen off their coasts?

    July 15, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. Casey

    "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."

    spot on!

    July 15, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Peter

    First, I hate the term "flip flop" for either candidate. It's juvenile, and somehow makes the notion of changing your mind in the face of evidence a bad concept.

    Second, the "surge" has been overall a success... but there are a few caveats to "success." One is that it is largely predicated on America's continued heightened presence there. Two, areas outside of the "green zone" are still largely dangerous. Three, the underlying problems of Iraq (namely that we blew up their infrustructure and haven't substantially repaired it... yes... they still ration electrical usage) continue. Four, many of the Al Queda who fought in Iraq of now moved to fight in Afghanistan, because there are less American troops there (so we are now essentially playing musical chairs with them).

    Third, what we really need to do to fight terrorism (and to be pull out of these coutnries) is to fight the underlying causes of terrorism... 1) lack of regional infrastructure and 2) poor perception of western (particularly american) countries abroad.

    July 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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