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. Kirk "Hussein" Powell

    How can McCain blast Obama when he doesn't know that the country of Czechoslovakia no longer exists and doesn't know how to use the internet to find out? My 80 year old father in law and my 75 year old father are competent internet users. Its interesting that McCain hasn't joined the 21st Century. Mc Cain has the nerve to criticize Obama when he's the one that got us in this mess to begin with. McCain's policies are out of date and out of step with the rest of the world just like his internet capabilities.

    Obama for America and America for Obama!

    July 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Lukas

    This is for Eric. You say McCain doesn´t know Czechoslovakia doesn´t exist anymore. Itś funny to hear it from you, since you made four mistakes when writing the name of my country.

    July 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Al,California

    You guy can call John McCain all the names you want, but the fact of t he matter is McCain is the most qualified person. How can you depend on a guy's judgement to run the country. One good vote on against the war on Iraq is "amazing judgement"? GOOD LORD! how about "20 years with Rev. Wright"? good judgement? how about allowing his two young daughters get on TV? Good judgement? How about the flip-flop on gun control? Good judgement?How about public campaign fianance? GOOD judgement?How about voting for the spy program of mr. bush? good judgement. This guy will do anything to get elected. I've had it with them democrate

    Think long and hard people!!! DO YOU KNOW WHAT OBAMA's stand is on every issue that is important to US!

    July 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Not fooled by distractions

    Funny, McCain can't seem to come up with any policy or ideas on his own, he's constantly bogarting off Obama.

    McCain – No new ideas, and no solutions to the old problems. Scary.

    July 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. smile!!!

    marcia fennell....and you think that you´ll be better off with the one who cannot even think for himself?

    you are one of the simple, pathetic mind repugnants

    July 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. jen

    After one solid year of Obama stating we should get out of Iraq and concentrate on Afghanistan today McCain and his supporters talk about it like it was McCains idea. Unbelievable!!

    July 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. nobushthirdterm.com

    McCain should have made that speech in Boring, Oregon.

    B. O. R. I. N. G.

    to an audience of all old white people who were themselves nodding off and fidgeting around.... SO inspiring. NOT.

    50+, white, female, voting for Obama no matter who his V.P. is.


    July 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. lenora levine

    John McCain is simply the scariest thing since George Bush. If you need to recruit and train forces to attack the US wouldn't you seek out a place where the terrain makes it difficult to be discovered (see Russia's failed Afghan strategy).
    This isn't Vietnam, many of these terrorists are well educated and from the finest American and European Colleges and Universities.
    The goal of the terrorist is to destroy America in pieces, little by little so that the fear is constant. Hence the term TERRORist.

    Somebody please say good night John!

    July 15, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Subhash Durlabhji

    Did Bush and company go to Iraq and get the facts on the ground before invading? Facts on the ground are required for tactical decisions, not strategy. Obama has been trying to get Americans to understand the difference, with little success it seems. ALL our problems stem from lack of strategy, which in turn comes from the culture of perpetual campaigning that Scott McLellan pointed out. Think long term my friends, or we are all doomed.

    July 15, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. workaday joe

    Does spending a few days in the Green Zone surrounded by rah-rah cis-cum-bah really give a better perspective on the war?

    July 15, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Montana is Obama Country

    With McWeekender we are at risk of FOUR WARS..





    Can we AFFORD another FOUR MORE YEARS fo the SAME..........?


    McCain = Bush = mosre of the same...

    We NEED Change... WE Need Obama for 2008 & 2012..

    July 15, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Love My USA

    Why don't you all take your heads out of the sand. Both parties are at fault for where are today The Dem have been in control of the house and Senate for two years, WHAT HAVE THEY DONE OR VOTED ON IN THE PAST TWO YEARS/ NOTHING!

    They all should be knock out of office,. I am sick and tired of putting all the blame on Bush, yes he is part of it but not all of it... We need to get out act togeather in november, and make sure what ever party wins, we do not have 100 % control, for then we as taxpayes have lost our watch dog, be Dem or Repub. Some one has to watch our money, our freedom. and our rights, which are slowly being taken away..

    July 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Walter, Long Beach

    In the past year, McCain has changed his position on:

    Off-shore drilling,
    Agents of religious intolerance,
    Bush's tax cuts, and
    Campaign finance

    In each instance, he went from the right side to the wrong side.

    Only on our foolish involvement in Iraq is he consistent : CONSISTENTLY WRONG!

    July 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Linda31

    I guess McCain didn't listen to all of the speech because Obama also said that he would talk and listen to what the generals on the ground have to say. This does not mean that he does not already have an idea what's going on. McCain's argument is faulting because if that was the case then every congressman that voted for the war should have gone there before casting a vote......

    July 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. GIFTY

    He, Obama has impaired perception and poor judgement about war in iraq.
    Mccain, please enlighten him more.

    July 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. chris (hartford, ct)

    "I know how to win wars". What!? How does he know how to win wars? From his Vietnam experience where he commanded no troops in a war we didn't actually win?

    Or that he recommended an increase in ground troops that should have occurred 3 years earlier in a country that we never should have illegally invaded?

    The only "wars" that McCain knows how to win involve playing cards.

    July 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Foreign observer

    McCain does not understand that the President defines the way not the millitary – not general Petraeus. Leadership means to have a strategic vision not only some local Irak tactics.

    July 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. James B. New Jersey

    No body care about Wright anymore but you folks that weren't going to vote for Obama anyway so stop it already and leave some room for meaningfull comments. McCain now wants to surge in Afghanistan funny how this is the first time i remember him mentioning afghanistan. I guess the polls showing that or progress there didn't poll well so now John is on the band wagon..

    July 15, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Canadian black man for Obama.

    McCain every war you are directly participated in always endup a losing battle. like Vietnam and now Iraq, but yet you think you know more than everyone.

    getting shot down from an air plan doesn't make you an hero of war. hero men women won first/second world war came home as liberators.

    Iraqi did salute us as liberator instead they salute us with bullets and bombs.

    Don't get into your head McCain and you are not the only POW . Your service is honour, but don't let it get over your head. Your naive about war, Mccain you haven't plan any successful war.
    Getting someone to write yourspeech doen't make you experience war planner.

    Even going to Iraq without stepping into the street with amour vehicles with lot of security doesn't give your so-call foreign experience.

    Now you criticized Obama for making is plan before going to Iraq and meet with Generals, but you faild to realised that the same Generals can also talk with Obama even though he did not go to Iraq.

    Mccain there something call phone and email conversation and many more secure ways of messaging without being ther in person.

    McCain because you don't know how to use these service doesn't mean Obama can't use them to get is facts.

    wakeup you are not talking to stupid once you know.

    July 15, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. looking at facts

    Everyone is talking about not talking to leaders on the ground...Did they forget this war has been going on for more than 5 years that Obama is on the Foreign Relations Committee And he spoke with Crocker and Petraeus at the hearings just as he did(McCain) as well as Clinton.Going over there will be nothing but a "dog and pony show" .Does everyone remember the "secure" Iraq with the mob of security McCain and his Entourage had?This so-called surge also has paid militias that we taxpayers are supporting ,some of which turn right around and kill our troops with our own money...Still support this "surge"?

    July 15, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. PJH

    I agree with Al from California except for one thing, Barack wasn't in the senate to vote on the Iraq war. He gave one speach about it and never spoke out against the war until he decided to run for President. His flip flop on FISA tells me he would have voted for the war if he had been in the senate. He has no spine. He is the change candidate, he changes his position daily.

    July 15, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. Ludovic

    MCCAIn shoud understand that in america, like in any other democratic country, it is the politic that lead the military. Obama don't have to speak to military before defining his politic. Military WILL execute what ever he decide. MCCAIN is laking leadership by saying that he need to consult this or that before defining what will be his politic in irak or afghanistan

    July 15, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. Orlando

    re Al

    Maybe you had it with the democratic because you are a Republican hoping that a Democratic does not win. You should have BEEN FED UP ABOUT THE BUSH MAFIA, steal and crippling our Economy. When the Democratic where in the White House MANY people can attest Times Were Good but Not our Money is becoming Worthless. literaterally

    July 15, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. Veteran in Kansas

    One does not need to endanger troops on the ground to gain persective on the situation any more we have telephones and computers, it' not the 70's and earlier.

    McCain is a hero, he is a Veteran, that does not qualify him for anything more than parade grand marshall.

    The "surge" it has been a sucess. Not really, sure what this means any more. The Iraqi government did not take advantage of the "surge" to do what they needed to do. It appears to me the sucess belongs to General David Petraeus, who has people on the ground actually talking to the Iraqs. Any sucess in Iraq has been due to this man, not our elected officials.

    July 15, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Tee from Florida

    This is to Al, California, That was a nice paragragh you wrote against Obama. Now how about writing the book of negatives about McCain. Its one thing to vote for who you want to vote for and thats the way America is. Its another thing to not put out there the negatives about McCain also like he is an angel and has not done anything wrong at all. Makes no sense to me. I think Obama would be a great pres. So stop talking about flip-flops, Rev Wright, Kids on Tv etc and start talking Rev Hagee, McCain's many flip-flops, lies that he has been caught in that are on record etc. Or how about just policies, like the economy,war, etc

    Obama 08

    July 15, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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