January 12th, 2014
10:50 AM ET
9 years ago

McCain: Send Petraeus back to Iraq

(CNN) – President Barack Obama should send David Petraeus, a retired four-star general who ran the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, back to Iraq to help deal with the growing unrest in the country, Sen. John McCain said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The Arizona Republican also weighed in on a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying he would have waited a bit longer to release the book, which offers a blistering critique of the Obama administration.

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On Iraq, McCain said the country is not a lost cause and argued the United States can still offer assistance to help quell the renewed violence that’s rocked the country in the last year.

Why Iraq is in turmoil

The 2008 GOP presidential nominee said he opposed sending combat troops back to Iraq, but added the U.S. can provide other kinds of aid, such as logistics support and Apache helicopters.

“I would suggest perhaps sending David Petraeus and Ambassador (Ryan) Crocker back over there,” McCain told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “(Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri) Al-Maliki trusts them.”

Petraeus has largely stayed out of the limelight since he resigned from his post as CIA director in November 2012 following an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Crocker was the U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, before becoming the ambassador to Afghanistan. He left the latter position in 2012 due to health reasons.

McCain also said if he were in Gates’ position, he might have waited a little bit longer to release a memoir about his role as defense secretary. The book, which includes strong criticism of Gates’ former boss, Obama, is set to release on Tuesday.

The Arizona Senator described Gates as “one of the finest public servants I have known” and said the book “surprised all of us who know him, and he’s decided to really kind of let loose.”

McCain added, however, he would have waiting “a little longer than now” to release the book, titled “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

“But I also respect his ability to voice his views any time he wants to,” McCain said.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Iraq • John McCain • Robert Gates • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (362 Responses)
  1. nrl

    mcain is an idiot – and i would never trust anything he says

    January 12, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. bluegorilla

    Stay out! We never should have went there. We took out the one stabilizing person (Saddam Hussein) that kept the Iranians in check. We in essence, destabilized the area by invading Iraq and taking out Saddam. What a cluster.

    January 12, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. abnguy

    Send Gen. McChrystal back to take charge.

    January 12, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Mike

    I think Sen McCain is trying to validate his long standing support of the Iraq War. Remember he told the new SECDEF that as a Senator, he'd been on the wrong side of Iraq (Hagel voted against going) and he was the biggest cheerleader. I was in Baghdad when McCain visited and he took the famous "like walking in Iowa on a Sunday" video piece. He forgot to mention the 800 soldiers and three Blackhawk Helicopters securing the small area he was in. Sadly, McCain is kind of past his "best-buy" date on these matters and should stop shilling Iraq.

    January 12, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Jim Rome

    Stop saying wars are about oil. Get that out of your head. We have more oil than we know what to do with. War is not about oil, it's about war services. We're talking $700 BILLION per year. It's a perfect industry. It's concealed under a cloak of secrecy. There are no audits, no accountability. You can dump anything you want into a burn pit, or just say you did. You don't have to account for anything, and you can mark up the cost of anything because you're the sole contractor. Not to mention cost overruns.

    January 12, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Jim Rome

    The Pentagon has never been audited, and their budget is $700 BILLION per year. Put it together, girls.

    January 12, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. rg33

    American interests in Iraq: 1) Oil. 2) A billion dollar "Embassy" in Baghdad with 15,000 contractors and 2,000 "diplomats" to protect our middle east oil interests. Otherwise, we'd ignore them as we do most of the non-strategic African and South Asian countries. We've spent thousands of billions of dollars on the region already.

    It would have been cheaper to shipped the hydrocarbons off Saturn's moon Titan than what we've been doing for the last 50 years in the Middle East.

    January 12, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Joe Helle

    McCain is a war monger. As an infantry Soldier who served 15 months in Iraq I can state that there is absolutely zero reason in the world why we should ever have been there in the first place, what alone ever go back. That part of the world has spent millennia fighting one another with nothing to really show for it. They pose absolutely zero risk to our country despite the senator's beliefs. We lost that war the day we crossed in to the country in 2003. The people didn't want us there which is made obvious by the outrageous injury and death count of my service members from that conflict. All that war did was send flags home and ensure that the government would be spending billions of dollars a year in disability benefits to people like me who served in that suck hole.

    January 12, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  9. Jim Rome

    Our troops will stay home, and McCain will give them personal care services himself, including bathing, personal toilet services, laundry assistance, housekeeping and mobility assistance.

    January 12, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  10. CRG

    I agree with McCain. We created the mess in Irag and we have a responsibility to the people of that country to help fix it. While we lost nearly 5000 soldiers, several hundred thousands of Iragees lost their lives and their country and economy were thrown into chaos. General Petraeus is most experience General we have. Let's get him back on the job.

    January 12, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. alfredhobbs

    The war was more of a quagmire with Petraeus in command. He wasn't called Gen. Betray Us for nothing. McCain just wants his 100 years war.

    January 12, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Pete/Ark

    Please John ... retire into anonymity and quit bothering people who spend their lives doing real work ....

    January 12, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. James

    Don't forget to include Paula Broadwell. Without her you're not going to see the real effect.

    January 12, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. WillB

    Send McCain back. Nobody including those in the GOP would miss him and the Tea Party would gladly pay his airfare.

    January 12, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Evergreen

    McCain Iraq Strategy: The US send in our military. The Sunnis and Shiites stop their civil war with each other and unite to kill our young men and women. Then, Mission Accomplished, we ended the civil war.

    January 12, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Rogue351

    The Tea Party and Republican party say that America cant afford Obama. But, we can spend billions, ten times all other counties combined on war and preparation for war. Helping take care of an aging population that built this country is out of the question, constantly cutting medicare and social security. Letting thousands go hungry in a first world nation, that to is ok. But stop building tanks for a couple of years, out of the question. Healthcare, Education and Space Exploration is exactly how most of this money that goes to war should be spent. I am all for our military and grateful for their service. The politicians handing out these outrageous contracts are the ones to blame. McShame being one of the most notorious.

    January 12, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. Jessica McGwin

    McCain put a sock in it. Retired you should think about what that means.How dare you bark orders. You do not run his life any more. He put in his time. Has done more than you could have ever thought of being. And you voted to cut retirement benefits. You Big "Sir" go on and on about how you are a POW VET never not once do I hear you speak about those you served with. Now you want to rob a man of his retired years. Y did you screw something up again?

    January 12, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Corporate America

    Dr. Strangelove McCain the primary cause of historic Bubble in unaudited Defense budget, a mental case who supports terrorists in Syria, anything to spend more defense dollar. A senile clown, time to wet your pants in assisted living with billionaire sometimes wife.

    January 12, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Corporate America

    McCain AKA Dr. strange-love, continues to support the unaudited defense department, another War is an attempt to hide the fraud and cover up of kick backs.

    January 12, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. innersixx

    Some how I doubt the General wants to leave retirement to go back to the Iraq.

    January 12, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. andres

    While NO fan of Obama, so glad that John was defeated. His calls for Petraeus to return to Iraq is reckless at least. Patraeus left Iraq in a shambles. Now in his defense he was merely carrying out senseless orders by both Bush and Obama. What really needs to happen is for our political leaders to resume the responsibility that is rightfully theirs and ensure that they do NOT send our young to die in worthless and senseless wars as Iraq and Afghanistan have proven to be,

    John, senility does not become you.

    January 12, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  22. wetcorvette

    how about we send john mccain over there, i like that idea better.

    January 12, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. KellyinBoston

    I have a great respect for Sen. McCain. He's saying what everybody in public service (republican and democrat) will be saying–Gates' book is inappropriate in its timing, and Gates should have waited to publish. But nobody can deny his right to have an opinion. I think that he may have created future problems for himself in peoples' willingness to trust him.

    January 12, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Jerry Schull

    Send McCain if he wants it so badly. And NO ONE ELSE!

    January 12, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. Unaudited America

    Audit the Department of Defense, this is attempt by McCain to discredit Obama and avoid fraud inquire.

    January 12, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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