June 11, 2008

John McCain on Bring the Troops Home: Not Too Important

On NBC's "Today" show, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain was asked whether he could estimate when U.S. troops could leave post-surge Iraq.
"No, but that's not too important," McCain said. "What's important is casualties in Iraq.

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader:
McCain’s statement today that withdrawing troops doesn’t matter is a crystal-clear indicator that he just doesn’t get the grave national-security consequences of staying the course -– Osama bin Laden is freely plotting attacks, our efforts in Afghanistan are undermanned, and our military readiness has been dangerously diminished. We need a smart change in strategy to make America more secure, not a commitment to indefinitely keep our troops in an intractable civil war."
Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:
"I think many of our brave soldiers and their families would disagree that it's 'not too important' when they come home. Knowing when our troops can come home from Iraq is vitally important, because the costs of staying with 140,000 or more troops are getting steeper every day. ... It is long past time to refocus our foreign policy on the many challenges we face, not just Iraq. Like President Bush, Sen. McCain cannot tell the American people when, or even if, Iraqis will come together politically -- which was [the] purpose of the surge in the first place. He can't tell us when, or even if, we will draw down below pre-surge levels. He can't tell us when, or even if, Iraq will be able to stand on its own two feet. He can't tell us when, or even if, this war will end."
Rahm Emanuel, House Democratic Caucus chair:
"Once again, John McCain has displayed a fundamental misunderstanding about the situation in Iraq, our strained military, and American troops and their families. ... With each passing day, the more John McCain talks about Iraq, the more the American people are reminded of how much we need change in Washington -- not more of the same from Sen. McCain."
Senator John Kerry:
Speaking of military families, Kerry said: "To them it's the most important thing in the world when they come home."

Kerry also cast the comments as proof that McCain is befuddled about the situation our military finds itself in. "Our generals have made it crystal clear that we cannot sustain our forces in Iraq at this level," he said.

"Senator McCain, it is important when they come home," Kerry concluded. "It is important when we can revitalize our military."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
"Senator McCain’s statement that it is ‘not too important’ when U.S. troops are redeployed from Iraq is yet another indication how out of touch he is with the effect the war in Iraq is having on the readiness of our military. Addressing the national security implications of the military readiness crisis ought to be considered as extremely important by someone who aspires to be commander in chief.

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said again yesterday that our military commitment in Iraq is hindering our ability to meet threats to our national security in places such as Afghanistan. Military leaders agree that the demands of frequent deployments to Iraq are stretching our Army to the breaking point, and that unacceptable strain is being placed on our troops, their families, and their equipment.

"For our military readiness, for the families of our brave men and women in uniform, and for our national security, America needs a New Direction in Iraq -- not the continuation of the Bush-McCain plan for an endless war in Iraq.”


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