April 7th, 2008
01:24 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain: Calls for Iraq withdrawal a ‘failure of leadership’


WWatch McCain talk about veterans and Iraq.

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain sharply criticized calls for withdrawal from Iraq, telling a Missouri audience of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that those statements were politically opportunistic and strategically irresponsible.

“[Withdrawal] may appear to be the easier course of action, but it is a much more reckless one, and it does them no credit even if it gives them an advantage in the next election,” the presumptive Republican nominee said in a speech at the National World War I Museum.

McCain also asserted that major redeployment of troops from Iraq was really a policy of “withdraw and re-invade” because “trouble will come immediately.” He also warned of calamity should the United States withdraw from Iraq, he defended the record of recent progress and praised General David Petraeus, who is slated to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. The Austrian

    Senator, it was a HUGE failure of leadership to even begin the war. The bad feeling you get about pulling out is not a stab at your leadership, but a stab at your hubris. How can you talk about good leadership amongst the overwhelming evidence showing that this war was started 100% upon false pretenses? This is pride, Senator. Pure pride, and it goeth before a fall.

    April 7, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Moe, NY

    We can all save our breath and our typing fingers because McCain is just a continuation of Bush and his corruption and lies. McCain is just another Republican warmonger and will not listen to the voice of American citizens. Obviously, he has his own agenda! The best way for American citizens to reach McCain is by NOT voting for him come November. By not voting for McCain, hopefully the next President will put a stop to this oil war and bring our soldiers home. Of course there will be a calamity if we withdraw from Iraq, we all know there will be a civil war in that country...but we all know it is happening now anyway and has been happening. There is no stopping it regardless if we stay or go. The people of Iraq will not even stand and fight for their own country...they run away and join the other side. Stop the madness now and bring our soldiers home.

    April 7, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    It's no surprise that John McCain would say this in support of the war, it's his one and only platform, war. Take him away from the war subject he ain't got nothing left. McCain may declare himself a "hero" he's one of many American living heros that have served and still serving their country and those that died. What really is the making of a hero?

    April 7, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Does anyone feel safer because of the Iraq war? That is the real question John. I have not experienced loss by this war but I know people that have and I have family members that are fighting. Our troops have done everything they have been asked to do. They have done it on multiple tours of duty. They have fought valiently, but we need them safe at home and protecting us where it counts. We can't fight two wars at once. We need to consolidate our efforts in Afganistan to stop the real people responsible for 911.

    April 7, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Eric Jack

    For all you Dems who say that you won't vote for your nominee of choice and will vote McCain, than you're really doing yourself and this country a disservice! To sustain a military for an unforeseeable ending can only mean... Re-institution of a Draft!

    Yep, our sons & daughters! So please thing about that before you cast your vote Republican!

    April 7, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Jim

    And there is the general problem with the GOP - they forget that they are elected by the people, to serve the people. If the people want to be out of Iraq, then it is there challenge to figure out how to get us out. We are all about sick and tired of being railroaded and led down this path and that path that lead us only further into the abyss.

    April 7, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Dan

    The biggest problem I have with this war is its cost and how its being paid for. We have currently borrowed $500 billion primarily from China, which causes quite a few problems on its own.

    1. It has devalued the US dollar which has in turn increased the cost of imports.
    2. With China cover so much of our debt, it makes it difficult to effect any changes in respect to human rights in China. If we put too much pressure on them, they can stop lending us money.

    Its irresponsible to just leave. But its also irresponsible to continue the status quo. We need to work quickly to a goal of withdrawing troops, and doing so will require us to involve countries that we don't entirely get along with, such as Iran.

    Otherwise we will have to keep troops involved for decades, at a cost of trillions. That will significantly slow the US economy for quite a long time.

    April 7, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. rod

    McCain is a draftsmen and looks like Uncle Sam. McCain will he perhaps choose and take an individual or individuals from a group for some special purpose for compulsory military service. Will McCain announce a draft board? Will McCain commandeer the Oath of Office for Bush endorsement on security issues?

    April 7, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. sozzi

    McCain, pulling our troops out of Iraq is an indication of great leadership, someone who has heart & a brain. why keep on losing troops for a cause that was made-up your buddy Bush.

    April 7, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. Danny in Pittsburgh

    Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Libertarians and visiting clever voters from planet Venus....

    PLEASE tell me you're not buying any of this drivel?!

    We prolonged this crap once before, in 2004. You bought into the Bush "fear is better than logic or ideas" strategy AGAIN...even though evidence at the time pointed to this entire conflict as a monumental mistake!

    The situation demands drastic CHANGE, not drastic adherence to the same failed policy!

    April 7, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. IAMWMD

    There were no WMD in Iraq. Invading Iraq was a backdoor means of Dubya revenging his daddy.

    If Lil McBush use Iraq as his main argument to become president he's gonna get slapped in the face with a dose of reality.

    Obama 08

    April 7, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Linda

    Leadership should be refelected in the strategy, not in what withdraw tactics are. Only fixing tactics of last leaders' strategic mistakes is a follower, not leader. Strategic mistake if there is should be faced by a true leader, not professional politician's attitude ( who can only follow and do justifying jobs).

    April 7, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. kim portland, oregon

    this guy scares the daylights out of me!! WAR! WAR! WAR! WAR!

    they dont even care that THEY are ones who have strengthened the terrorists and insurgents (yes, folks, those are two SEPERATE groups). we cannot have this old, war-loving creature as our president! THAT would be a failure of leadership!

    mccain, the folks at shady acres called, they want to know if you have any special dietary needs!

    April 7, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. B4ABetterTomorrow

    What about America??? What about the war on drugs or gangs or poverty or this recession? For those of you who support this war, prolonged or otherwise, how about YOU boot up and go over and fight until your hearts are content because those of us who are sane have had enough.

    April 7, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Trollmaster CA

    Those that supported and voted for the Iraq invasion were the ones with the failed leadership. Notice how McCain is silent about that?

    April 7, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. GnosticMan

    The true failure of leadership is keeping our boys in a war zone they cannot win. I really hope folks aren't naive enough to believe that staying the course isn't bad leadership. Staying the course is not the desire of the American people. Our leaders are supposed to create policy according to the will of the people. BRING THE BOYS BACK HOME!

    April 7, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Memo to Senator McCain:

    A real leader would not continue to follow George Bush's meandering footsteps in the sands of Iraq.

    April 7, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Amit, NY, NY

    John McCain shivers me timbers! NO MORE WAR MONGERS! NO MORE WARS!

    April 7, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Tex

    The only failure of leadership occurred when Bush advocated the war against Iraq and McCain and Hillary both voted to support it! Schultz had it right: McCain is a warmonger. I think McCain is a complete failure in leadership.

    April 7, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Blake

    We have one day where it is all McCain and no Obama/Clinton and he seems to self destruct.

    What is the deal with this guy?

    April 7, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Tom

    It is currently the politics of the Democrats to point fingers.

    What is their solution for Iraq? Show you who's to blame. That's how you win elections.

    Why don't we figure out the best way to move forward that is strategically smart for us given the current situation as it is now, not as we would want it to be. It seems that Democrats want to get out and pretend we never went there.

    Well, folks, it just isn't that simple.

    April 7, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. J.R.

    Fundamentally correct? You mean fundamentally flawed. McCain and his ilk cannot even give a valid reason to continue this mistake except, "Withdrawal would be disaster". Baloney. He can't even keep the players straight.

    What is already a disaster is our domestic situation. At this point we couldn't defend our country from a foreign attack. We are fighting the current war with 50% contractors and 50% soldiers on their 3rd or 4th Tour. Oh, and you can probably guess who is being paid more.

    April 7, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. L B

    We have had a complete failure of leadership at the hands of his beloved GOP since 2000, so he should know all about failure. The Democrats are not the problem, it is war-hungry Republicans who are too proud to admit they were hoodwinked into this abomination.

    Anyone but McCain in 2008.

    April 7, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  24. Roy

    Paying for a war in Iraq is a failure in leadership! Time they started paying us to defend them from themselves.


    April 7, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. John in Virgina

    I think both sides are in some sense correct. First and foremost, attacking Iraq in the first place was just plain stupid. The U.S. has a long history of doing immoral things and then not being able to live with the consequences. Had we not gone to Iraq, we wouldn't have this mess. But now we have created instability in that region, and now are stuck having to clean it up. Clinton and Obama are right in that we need to send Iraq a message that it will have to stand on its own and start making plans because we can not afford to stay. Our economy is failing and this war is a large part of the reason, though not the only reason. We need the money that is being spent there to be spent at home now; desperately. I think we have to be very careful getting out. setting goals are one thing, but implementing them will likely take longer than people want.

    April 7, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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