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. I R Amazed

    I need to correct my post above.
    The last 5 star was Bradley in 1950.
    The rank was retired in 1981 when Bradley passed away.
    No 5 star ever officially retired. They remained on active duty for life and were paid accordingly.

    January 12, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Rob

    Do politicians ever listen to the populous these days? If McCain ever read real folks comments on this site, he would see most say let muslims all rot in hell. We don't care!

    January 12, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. kalzy

    Send Petraeus back...to the middle ages

    January 12, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. JWJR

    McCain, like many republicans, is a war monger. And why is it the US who has to fix Iraq's problems? The US military invaded and occupied. And now McCain wants the US to go back to Iraq and occupy again? This war is not about US safety. It's about US imperialism. The military is under the Department of DEFENSE. This is not defensive. This is offensive. Might as well rename the department the Department of War. They're not protecting US citizens. They're putting them in danger. US soldiers go over there and get killed and it's not in the name of protecting the US. The more we kill their people, the more hated we are. The more hated we are, the more danger the US is in. This has nothing to do with our freedom. This has to do with power.

    January 12, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. Eldon Richardson

    Should we go back to Vietnam also? When is our country and people like McCain going to learn? When you have corrupt leadership like we had in South Vietnam, and now have in both Afganistan and Iraq, do you really think we will have favorable outcomes? The crime is not with Obama who got us out of the endless mess, but those politicians who got us in them in the first place and advocate continued intervention in cesspools like Syria.

    January 12, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. TiredofBush

    Does this surprise you, then refresh your memory, he is a die hard republican.

    January 12, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. pat clark

    what has gone wrong with our political leaders. you think any moron would have learned from the Vietnam war that we just cant keep interfering with a regions political turmoil that has gone on for hundreds of years. bush and chaney should have been brought up on treason charges for going to Iraq with their lies to the American public. Iraq has only been involved forhundreds of years in wars within their country as well as neighboring countries. we cant keep instilling democracy at the expense of precious American lives to countries(packistan and afghanastan,etc) that don't wants us there. believe me read the papers people, watch out! we are now sending "advisors" into Africa next is our troops.
    when the hell are we going to learn our lessons of not getting involved where we are not wanted. the govts we send our money to keep stealing from us and the idiots in Washington keep sending them more. what a joke.

    January 12, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. Guestish Guest

    Clearly you've never served. The highest rank of Officer is 4 Star General. The last 5-star was Eisenhower, WWII. Major is 6 ranks below GEN and 2 ranks below even Brigadier General. None of them left because of President Obama. Petraus is a brilliant leader and tactician...who also cheated on his wife with another woman – which is a clear violation of legal and moral standards. As it turns out "Loyalty and Integrity" a big in the Military. And make no mistake...the "dedicated" military is still here. Among the lower ranks, the Non Commissioned and Enlisted...the ones who ACTUALLY do the work. You, sir...turn my stomach.

    January 12, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. g

    bush had the TALIBAN at his ranch in 1997 for a pow-wow .

    January 12, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. Don Dishman

    McCain probably suffers from dementia. He speaks like a man without a brain! Go back to Iraq? We shouldn't have been there the first time. John, retire, go back to Arizona, sit in the shade, and quietly go away. You are an embarrassment to this country, its men and women in uniform.

    January 12, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. unretired05

    After McCains VP pick I have little faith in his Iraq opinion or who to send to fix it.

    January 12, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Peter

    McCain had such harsh words for Clinton's sexual adventures, but seems to ignore that of Mr. Petraeus.

    There are always different rules for different people in politics.

    January 12, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. gh

    Why the hell would we want to go back? Just about everyone understands that we could be there 25 years and as soon as we leave you will have what we are seeing now. This was talked about at great length by the expert prior to and during the Iraq war that there will be a vacuum soon after we leave. No surprise here.

    January 12, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. sparky

    On how many levels is this a stupid idea? Petraeus is retired and probably can't get a clearance after his shenanigans at the CIA. Furthermore, we have no leverage there because we have no troops. We probably won't send troops, because the public doesn't want to go back.

    I get it, McCain thinks of himself as a "big picture" guy. But it's long past time for him to realize that little details matter. And details like no troops and no general are not that little.

    January 12, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. verite

    .....and why not send along a couple thousand more young men and women too. Have enough people not suffered already?

    January 12, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  16. gh

    to the poster "really?", your comment of over 100 5 star generals......" A little bit of hyperbole.

    The last 5 star general died in 1991, Omar Bradley. He was general of the army in 1950 and retired in 1953.

    January 12, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. sammy750

    Quit being a traitor to the USA McCain. Start focusing on jobs, the economy, the high poverty rate in the USA. I know you don't care since your worth tens of millions like other law makers. Let Iraq handle their mess. That government has got billions from the USA and wasted it. McCain needs to focus on the people of the USA and not those overseas. Your not in charge McCain. Support the people of the USA

    January 12, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. sammy750

    And guess what McCain. you, Bush, Cheney and other Republicans should never have invaded Iraq. It was a traitor act to the people. Your judgment is not worth much as you and Graham continue to want more wars in Syria and Iran.

    January 12, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Yesorno

    Really, 100 5 star Generals. Somebody tell that due that the last time we had a 5-star general was in the 50's. So he want us to bring them from the grave. Really last name must be stupid.

    January 12, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. joeazona

    At least McCAin served his country..unlike so many others in DC.. Maybe he is not perfect, but he is much better than most.

    January 12, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. amb

    I was intrigued by the comment by REALLY?'s comment. Personally I didn't know that were any 5 Star Generals since WWII. Also has he never hears of attrition. Were constantly bringing recruits into and cadets to the Military Academies because people retire

    January 12, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. jennifer in houston

    if we want the war to last for ever then yes send all the generals there. All Generals know how to do is keep wars going. We messed up royally by going to war in the first place. When will we get it into our thick heads that meddling in the world with our military is a really bad idea especially when it is for political (the neo cons wanted their oil) and for personal political vendetta.( Bush family)

    January 12, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Damien

    It was known since the beginning that once we left, there'd be violent conflict in Iraq. Neocons planned on that being an excuse to never leave. Waste not one more American life in Iraq.

    January 12, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. Frank Garcia

    the hateful and ignorant comments from the liberal left define what kind of people vote for democrats and make our country weaker.

    January 12, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. Michael

    Old McCain had a farm, e i e i oh.

    January 12, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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