July 3rd, 2011
04:12 PM ET

McCain: Afghan drawdown is an 'unnecessary risk'

Two leading voices in the Senate on foreign policy continued their criticism of President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw roughly 30,000 American troops from Afghanistan over the next 14 months.

Republican Sen. John McCain, speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan, said Sunday the president’s plan creates an “unnecessary risk” in the region.

“What I have seen and heard here, both from Afghans as well as a number of Americans, is that it is an unnecessary risk, it’s not recommended by any of the military,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And I hope that it will work out, but it certainly deprives us of the necessary troops that we need for the second fighting season.”

The Arizona Republican and ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee said the president’s decision created uncertainty in the region with Afghans now wondering if the United States will stay in their villages.

“That can undermine the whole effort and sacrifice that has been made ever since this important surge began,” McCain said.

But the veteran senator declined to categorize the decision by the man who defeated him in the 2008 presidential election as a political one, unlike other Republicans, including Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“I question whether this was the right decision or not, but I can’t question the president’s patriotism,” McCain told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

In June, Obama announced that all 33,000 additional U.S.forces he ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 will be home within 15 months. The 10,000 “surge” forces would withdraw by the end of 2011 and another 23,000 would leave Afghanistanby September 2012, Obama said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is traveling with McCain and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, said Obama’s decision may “undercut the momentum” achieved by forces on the ground.

“Things were moving in the right direction,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “My fear is people will look at this as a withdrawal, not a transition.”

Graham, also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the president’s decision was based on a “Obama-Biden strategy” instead of the recommendation of military leaders. Graham questioned Lt. Gen John Allen, the incoming commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, at a congressional hearing last month where Allen said the president’s plan “is a more aggressive option than that which was presented.”

 “The commander-in-chief can make any decision he would like. He should listen to his military commanders,” Graham said. “I just hope and pray that this works out well. It came at a very critical time. And we will see what the future holds.”


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Filed under: Afghanistan • Foreign Policy • Homeland Security • Kerry • McCain • Military • Senate
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Ever notice how the US is ALWAYS at war? And who benefits? Contractors. Don't think they don't have a huge part to play. They are the man behind the curtain.

    July 10, 2011 at 6:33 am | Reply
  2. rightospeak

    Blood and Treasure McCain ? He would fight till our last drop of blood and our last dollar. He loves war . He is rich and could care less what happens to us. He can not even close the borders that are a treat to our national security. Need I say more ? He wants WW III which will anihilate all. Maybe, he did not think that we may not win ?

    July 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  3. John

    Senator McCain, next year is not the "second fighting season." It is the tenth. There will always be another fighting season so long as US troops are present in substantial numbers. Our goal was to defeat Al Qaeda. Since they no longer pose a significant threat to us, we've achieved that goal. Should they reconstitute, we can employ the counter-terrorism strategy that is proving to work so well. Instead, you prefer to employ a counterinsurgency strategy that is doomed to failure. The same Afghan folks you are meeting with on your whirlwind Afghan tour are engaged in the very corruption that dooms this effort. Perhaps instead of attending tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear briefings, you might travel with me a bit the next time you're in town. You might find the ground truth to be a bit different than what you're being spoon fed. Bring us home.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:04 am | Reply
  4. Rick Rickerson

    Republicans: We need a war tax. All branches of the military are cutting while the nation is at war. How many nations win wars while cutting the size of the military? The George Bush tax cuts were predicated on a pre-September 2001 and a peace dividend from the end of the Cold War. However, in a post 9-11 world we've had to create a Department of Homeland Security, pay for 10 years of Operations in Afghanistan and 8 years in Iraq. Some would have you believe that Libya is what is putting over the top. Hard to cut the size of government with a Nation that needs defending. Seems like some want their cake and want to eat it too! Not a war monger, however the economy is the #1 National Security issue for America, closing tax loopholes seems like a good start.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:35 am | Reply
  5. cw tuckness

    i am a vietnam vet who witnessed the terrible sacrifices our people made, and for what? we lost. now its time to bring our troops home and straigten out the economy. amen

    July 7, 2011 at 10:02 am | Reply
  6. Paul

    Pulling out 33,000 troops will not cause unnecessary risk. There are more than 100K troops in Afghistan. We cannot stay there forever, and we have to let Afghistan people be responsible for their country. We spend too much money and too many lives. Now let Afghistan people start fighting for their destiny.

    July 5, 2011 at 11:22 am | Reply
  7. Frank

    Momentum? But I thought the surge failed before it started.
    I've never heard anything positive from it, so of course it should be withdrawn. Wasn't that what the GOP wanted?

    July 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  8. Odessa

    America, don't leave Afghanistan without giving them Bibles and literacy. Her only chance to understand God's love for mankind, liberty and justice from the foundation.

    July 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Reply
    • Mohammad

      With all due respect we Muslims know more about Christianity than Christians. Please go to YouTube and see thousands Christians who have converted to Islam. priests bishops baptist ministers , doctors . Feminists , professionals , athletes people from all walks of life. We Muslims are taught to love our neighbors jewish christan , atheist , our wife's , sisters , mothers all life is sacred all people were created by god and are to be respected , to be honest , stand firm on justice , forgive when we have a right to retaliate , pray for those who wrong us this is Islam . What we hear out of some of these countries is lack of literacy Education , tribalism , poverty

      July 7, 2011 at 1:41 am | Reply
    • Jonunya Mofo

      And that folks, is why we are hated.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  9. Swordfish

    The Country is BROKE falling on it's knees. This guy do not want hear anything about raising taxes. BUT still want us to be involved on IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN and now LIBYA. Until now none of you phony jonolists/ analyst ever asked him tough questions "HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THESE WAR, and GOD and probably Mccain knows for how long" You can't have both... Cut Spending and then UN ENDED WAR SPENDING. Wonder why I shouldn't call you a WAMONGER

    July 4, 2011 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • Frank

      He's been giving speeches at fundraisers saying we need to "pull the trigger" on Iran for the last year at least.
      Never enough war for some people.

      July 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  10. OldDawg

    What pray tell does Mr. McCain know that we don't? On the surface there is no monetary, security, and /or general benifit for the American People by staying in Afghanastan.
    The war on terror was a knee jerk reaction to a horrible tragedy to our Nation. What has been lost in all of the rehtoric is that had America not willingly allowed the SOB's who carried out the attack of 9/11 in the country there never would have been a tragedy to begin with.
    We are spending billions and hundreds of lives to kill a few people who use hundreds to do the same to us. We should rethink this whole situation before we waste another life in a country that could care less of the sacrifices we are making.No matter what America does it will lose period the Afghans just don't care and would rather have Taliban and Al Queda in their country than NATO.
    Wether America likes it or not America and NATO are infidels and are the lowest of lows in that Waste Land.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • Jimbob

      WRONG, the Afghans absolutely and belligerently DO NOT want the Taliban and Al Queda in their country, are you kidding me? Where in the hell do you get your info from. However they want us there for all the wrong reasons, such as giving them money and free handouts.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • Anarath

      'What has been lost in all of the rehtoric is that had America not willingly allowed the SOB's who carried out the attack of 9/11 in the country there never would have been a tragedy to begin with.'
      I'm afraid the degree of isolationism required to not 'allow' immigration would probably not allow Americans to leave the country either. If you are suggesting cultural/ethnic profiling, then you should keep in mind that, assuming you drive an automobile and own a cell phone, you do business with these 'SOB's' and should not be a hypocrite.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Reply

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