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. Steve

    "Bomb, bomb, Iran." Can you imagine where we would be with this idiot in the White House?

    January 12, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Jim

    Americans don't care about Iraq, John. Stop worrying about the Middle East.

    January 12, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Mark Causey

    We should not only send more troops to Iraq but we should start building housing there for American's to live in since we will be there for hundreds of years to come. I thing that John should be the first one to live in one of those houses.

    January 12, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. pkfops01

    Petraeus: Send McCain to Iraq; I did my time.

    January 12, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. scott

    come on sen mccain...in what capacity would david petraos go back to iraq??? as general, excia director, envoy??? as general he would have to be recalled to active duty and that wont happen, both sides of the aisle in washington sees him as a traitor, his career in politics is over...as far as gates, goes he was equally critical of the bush and obama administrations and he said that he(bob gates) was wrong and that pres obama was right in the decision to invade pakistan to get bin laden, so really nothing much new...

    January 12, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Ike7

    We have US troops in Iraq and a 3-star general in charge of the OSC-I located in Baghdad. I suspect we will focus on using our LTG as our senior military rep for now rather than ask General Petraeus to leave academia to return to Iraq.

    January 12, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. strangerq

    H#!! to the no!

    No more Iraq War!!

    January 12, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. drake mallard

    "Wars for everyone else's kids"

    Rich old men will always send poor young men to fight their wars while protecting their own kid. we have a national debt that’s out of control, they send us to wars we shouldn’t be fighting in.

    January 12, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. cbp

    General Petraeus was not pushed out.. He did, however, resign and that was the correct thing to do at the time. We should not send him back to Iraq unless we can be sure that the Iraq government wants him there. Iraq is a free nation now and they must decide what to do.

    Military men and women do resign as they reach the end of their careers. When they do another group of very well-trained and patriotic officers and NCO's move up the ladder. It is unfair to say that the military is not being run by dedicated and well-trained people.

    January 12, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. drake mallard

    According to the study, then President George W Bush made 232 false statements about Iraq and former leader Saddam Hussein’s possessing weapons of mass destruction, and 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to al Qaeda.

    “President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq…

    On at least 532 separate occasions, Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both.”

    On July 2004, the Republican majority led Senate Select Committee released the Intelligence Senate Report on Iraqi WMD Intelligence, which identified numerous failures in intelligence gathering and “analysis” (i.e., interpretation). However, Republicans defended the Bush administration’s statements on Iraq.

    An investigation into the administration’s use of the intelligence was delayed for three years due to Republicans claiming it wasn’t as important (Senator Roberts, R-KS) as other pending items. Phase two of the investigation was released in 2007, but not all of the report was released. It determined, “our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence.”

    Cheney's Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War

    January 12, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Lou AZ

    @really? – There has not been a Five Star General (or Admiral) in the US Military since WW II. Your reference to Major is nonsensical. A Brigadier General has one Star, a Major General two Stars, a Lieutenant General three Stars, and a General four Stars. A Major in the US Military is between a Captain and a Lt. Colonel in the US Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, between a Lieutenant and Commander.

    You (really?) are encouraged to InterNet search – The Pentagon's Biggest Overrun: Way Too Many Generals .
    Obamarama didn't have a lot to do with having more Generals and Admirals than we had in WWII.

    January 12, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Hell NO. Petraeus is untrustworthy.

    January 12, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Tom in Desoto, TX

    McCain – his highest rank in the NAVY, who as a pilot would never be involved in a ground operation, was Captain, A Naval Captain is equal to Colonel in the Army. That is below one star general. McCain wouldn't be invited into the room where an overall ground offense would be drawn up except to retrieve supplies for the brass. McCain designing "war offensive" would be like driving with a blindfold on, not having a clue.

    January 12, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. steveintampa

    A little too late now. Hindsight is 20/20.

    January 12, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. charles

    USA is lucky not to have McCain as a president. The guy is a war monger. These guys don't like united states no matter how we help them. The Maraki government refused to develop democratic institutions to foster democracy. The USA is in debt because of that war, then why does he think its a good idea to send our men and women to risk their lives? The veterans who sacrificed their limbs, lives and time will never be fully paid. The Iraq government realigned its self with Iran and they sent USA out of Iraq awarding the oil; contracts to the Russians and chines.

    January 12, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. Dan Slaby

    President Obama is the most competent Commander in Chief I've known; a President whose courage to remain silent before his accusers while contemplating the advice of his commanders, balancing the military cost against political reality, and always putting country before politics. He is respected by those he respects for the bravery, duty and honor in serving this nation faithfully.

    President Obama is a profile in courage to act with prudence and judgement in diplomacy when his political enemies demand war.

    Vietnam Vet, 5th SF Det B-36 3rd Mobile Strike Force

    January 12, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Sheila

    Before you jump in to fix something, first you must define what needs fixing. The Sunnis said they feel like the govt forces could simply single them out as terrorists. So, I still believe they haven't resolved the power sharing issues where everyone feels representation. Also, until the situation in Syria is resolved, the whole area is caught up in the tensions. The US upset the apple cart and balance of power. Maybe what is really going on is efforts to restore balances of power. I am not sure how you do that, but the US should be clear on what they are fixing and what is a realistic goal before they jump back in. Primarily that involves some real introspection and understanding of the problem rather than just using one word Democracy as a fix all solution.

    January 12, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. Brian Smith

    Excellent idea. In fact, let's just create another new military base officially in Iraq, and then we might as well set up a diplomatic US government in Iraq on that base 'to show them how democracy works' – and then let's make them our official 51st state, because we will never leave Iraq ever again.

    January 12, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. David Camden

    Its time for McCain to be put out to pasture....he has become part of the problem!

    January 12, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. American

    How about John McCain goes back to the Hanoi Hilton Viet Nam. Why should HE even consider sending our guys back in that Hell Hole again.

    January 12, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. Pablo695

    Poor McSame, his memory is really starting to fade. The CON's wanted to install a democracy (their excuse along WMD to get at the oil leases); but then Iraqis, with the freely elected democracy said NO THANKS, we don't want you army in our country.

    Sorry Johnny boy – you and team completely broke the country, made Al-Quida stronger and gave the Iraqi's the option to say "No Thanks". Enjoy it – you got EXACTLY want you asked for (fools that you are...)

    January 12, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. mlmcleod

    Can't – he's too busy chasing skirts.

    January 12, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. DJ Reality

    We made a big mistake knocking Saddam Hussein out of power. We would not have all these problems in that today if we just would have left him alone. So, Now John McCain wants to send more Americans to their death. Republicans sure lack the vision to run this country and they keep proving it. They just like to meddle in the affairs of other country. Hey, John lets focus on our problems before we go running around the globe trying to fix every body else!!!!

    January 12, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Edutron

    At current, the U.S. would be better off having an Islamic leader, and an Islamic senate. Think about that! Better than Socialist Communism!

    January 12, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. Cecil

    Really? 100 five start generals have left the military? I know we too many generals but I don't believe you could come up with that many in the history of the U.S. military. Dude we go it you hate Obama but that doesn't mean you have to make up stuff.

    January 12, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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