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. Rod C. Venger

    If we send Petraeus back, send him with 250,000 of our finest troops too. Our mistake in Iraq was not pacifying the country. Every adult male should know he's been beaten and too afraid to do silly things like make IED's and car bombs. That terrorist Al-Sistani and his girlfriend Al-Sadr should be rounded up...or droned if still hiding in Iran, and the Mehdi Army reduced to throwing stones. We failed in Iraq, as usual, due to the meddling of politicians making back room deals. Let's do it right.

    January 12, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. beatrueleader

    How pathetic and moron he always is.

    US never should get involved in the Iraq war. Wasted thousands of lives of our brave young men and women. Wasted millions of innocent Iraqi lives. Not counting millions of physical injuries from both sides.

    January 12, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. JiminNM

    Imprison McCain as an anti-Constitution terrorist.

    January 12, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    What ever the govt says do the opposite and you will have a great life!

    January 12, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. Charlie

    McCain you go. This man is a war monger. I respect his service, however, he only wants to get our young soldiers killed.

    January 12, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. larry thompson

    This confirms my fears that John McCain really is too old to serve in public office. He was slinging this kind of crap around when we were losing equipment and men every single day in Iraq. John M–read the Gates' book. You and the president need it now. Yes, send Be-tray-us to a war we lost 13 years ago.

    January 12, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. nibirutruth

    McCain should be in prison for helping to cover up Israels attack on the USS Liberty knowing full well that it was an American ship.

    January 12, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. alfuc

    We should send McCain to sort things out in Iraq. Mr. McCain, please stay there for GOOD.

    January 12, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. tom

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were lost as soon as they began because the people will not tolerate outsiders trying to control their lives.

    January 12, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. jimatmad

    Republicans simply aren't happy unless they are getting American soldiers killed.

    January 12, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. timothy

    Send Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice etc. to Iraq and I don't care how many shoes get thrown at them.

    January 12, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. rwhite

    We should have learned from Vietnam. If a country cannot defend itself then so be it. We set them up and they cannot hold their position. We cannot baby sit them forever. It is the law of the survival of the fittest and we have to butt out.

    January 12, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. J R Brown

    I am of the opinion that we won the war with Iraq in unprecedented fashion. The entire country was ours in less than a week. What we lost is the occupation of Iraq.

    There simply can not be a way to bring people in that part of the world into the 21st century. No amount of money, troops or anything else will overcome their culture. The reason Saddam was able to control Iraq was because he was absolutely ruthless and without mercy. The greatest infliction of death and pain since the invasion of Iraq was not at the hands of Americans but at the hands of Muslims who hated other muslims for not being "muslim" enough.

    The only way Iraq can be at peace is if Islam is eradicated. It's a cancer upon humanity....it should be treated as such.

    January 12, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Lawless4U

    This is for the poster who calls himself "really?".

    You are lying. Just how many 5 star generals do you think there are? Exactly NONE. It is reserved for times of war and we are officially at war nor have we been in some time.

    January 12, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Lawless4U

    Sorry. I menat to say "we are NOT officially............."

    January 12, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |

    The Psychopath & Narcissist Mc cain has NOT learned from history. No matter how much weapons you have...people's determination will always prevail over unjust imperialist policies.

    January 12, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. works4me

    Pssst... McCain... he's RETIRED. You're not sending him anywhere. Do you think he owes you something??

    January 12, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Ron

    Utterly amazing how a retired official can write a book slamming a serving President, I have to ask the question, what has happened to the people of this country, it seems as though they have lost any sense of duty, loyalty, and patriotism they might have been raised with. I was raised that you never said or did anything that would cast a shadow or have a bad reflection on America! What has happened to the politicians and the people of this great nation?

    January 12, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Common Sense

    I respect and always listen to what John McCain has to say in spite of the fact that I am a lib and disagree with him at times. McCain is one of the last of a dying breed of moderate Republicans, and I like that he calls them as he sees them in spite of what the press, especially Fox News, has to say. He is getting old but can still be insightful and helpful to our country. Long live John McCain!

    January 12, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. RickN

    Who is surprised that the violence in Iraq increased after we left? No one.
    Who will be surprised when the Afghan army turns and runs from the taliban after we leave? No one.
    Was anyone surprised that the south vietnamese army would turn and run without our guys out in front of them? No.
    I think there are enough lessons learned here to give us great pause before starting or entering another war in the middle east. Face it, without a massive massive intervention that would require a million or more soldiers from a number of countries in addition to the U.S., nothing will change within the foreseeable future in the middle east. Religion at its finest. Never disappoints.

    January 12, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. jimatmad

    We were there for 10 years. We should never have gone in. We finally got out, and I am delighted to be out.

    Now, Mr McCain wants to send us back in?!?

    Please, Mrs McCain, escort your husband off of the public stage.

    January 12, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. ItSoNlYmE

    No Senator, we should absolutely NOT send General Petraeus nor anyone else with an American passport to Iraq. It's stupefying to me that anyone in the United States Senate could be so utterly dense. Have you learned NOTHING from the past 11 years? Nothing at all? Seriously?

    January 12, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. BeverlyNC

    Really? Yes, let's send a failed military leader back in to slow down and mishandle Afghanistan yet again. McCain needs to retire. He is no hero and has continually betrayed the People while in the Senate. He could have stood up to filibuster king McConnell and made the Senate govern and pass legislation for the national recovery and for the People. He did nothing. All he does is run his mouth instead of doing his job. He needs to go home and let real leaders step in to govern and truly do the work FOR the People.

    January 12, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  24. I R Amazed


    Over 100 5 star Generals....................


    OK, I know you didn't say 100 5 stars resigned, but would you care to name the 5 star admirals and generals who resigned since 2009?
    For that matter, would you like to name all of the 5 stars that resigned from 1960 on?
    Never mind, I'll help you out.
    The 5 star rank was created during WW2 in order to put America's top military leaders on par with British Field Marshal rank. There has not been a 5th star awarded since 1947.
    Admirals, Leahy, King, Nimitz, and Halsey, Army generals Eisenhower, Marshall, Bradley, Arnold, and MacArthur. The actual ranks were fleet admiral, general of the army, and general of the air force (created when the USAF became a service independent of the army.)

    January 12, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. ONt Truth

    Iraq is the way it is because of what the US did well before Obama was President. Once again, the previous administration made a mess of things and left someone else to clean up their mess. Just like children the previous administration was. yep; sure were!. Now the short term memory straw men are left to point fingers at Obama and try to blame him. He did what a majority in this country wanted him to do; get out while we still could. The majority in this country had enough of Iraq and did not want to be there anymore. It was not Obama and Hillary doing that. What a fool to think so.

    January 12, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
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