John McCain/National Security and Foreign Policy

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Wiki the vote tall.gif This article is part of the Wiki-The-Vote project to detail the positions and records of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama. This article covers McCain and National Security and Foreign Policy. See the main page on John McCain for other positions and more info.
Summary (how summaries work)
Sen. McCain has a long-standing history of leadership on national security issues, stemming from his time in service as a U.S. naval aviator to his career in the U.S. Senate. In the past several years, he's advocated for a larger military to meet current and future needs, and has said he envisions a U.S. troop presence in Iraq similar to those in South Korea and in Germany and Japan following World War II.

Senator McCain was criticized for his many statements of progress on the Iraq war between 2002-2008, and following a trip to a Baghdad market in 2007 he apologized for declaring that his ability to walk freely around the marketplace was a sign of significant improvement in security in Iraq under the "surge". In fact, his visit was conducted under extraordinary security arrangements.

John McCain in an ardent supporter of Israel and its government's policies. In 2007, Citizens for Global Solutions gave Senator McCain a grade of B-, while the senator supported the interests of the Council for a Livable World 0 percent that year. McCain supported the interests of the Center for Security Policy 59 percent in 2005-2006.


The Iraq war

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

In December of 2004, McCain called for expanding the size of the military in order to send more troops to Iraq. [1]

In November 2005, McCain called for a diversification of Iraqi national forces to better represent the multiple ethnic groups contained within the country.[2]

McCain introduced an amendment on June 14, 2006 to a defense authorization bill to urge the Bush administration to provide estimates or required war funding in its annual budgets. The provision carried no weight, however, and was unenforceable.[1]

The troop "surge" in Iraq

On February 5, 2007, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a resolution which would set eleven conditions that the Iraqi government would need to meet in order to retain American support. In addition, it would express that the president and all personnel serving under him should “receive from Congress the full support necessary to carry out the United States mission in Iraq.”

In January, McCain disagreed with a statement by Sen. Joe Biden that it was unconstitutional for Congress to require authorization for a troop increase after authorizing the war, saying that it is most definitely within the rights of Congress to cut funding for the war. He added, however, that he disagreed with such a move because it would lead to an unacceptable failure for the U.S. in Iraq.

Main article: Congressional actions regarding President Bush’s 2007 proposed troop “surge” in Iraq

Walking the streets of Baghdad

<youtube size="tiny" align="right" caption="McCain being interviewed on the market visit.">jchwx-GKHKU</youtube> On April 1, 2007, McCain and a congressional delegation strolled the streets of Baghdad with a massive armored escort. There were 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawk helicopters and 2 Apache Gunships accompanying the delegation, with snipers watching over them. After walking through the Shorja market in Baghdad under the tight security, McCain claimed that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.” In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market today was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad.[3]

Within a week, McCain issued an apology for his remarks the previous weekend, declaring that his ability to walk freely around the marketplace was a sign of significant improvement in security in Iraq under the "surge".[4]

Statements of progress on the Iraq war

McCain has been predicting "victory" and citing the present as a "critical time" for over five years: <youtube size="tiny" align="right" caption="Various McCain statements on Iraq, 2002-2008.">h-a5T0HsJpw</youtube>

  • Sept 24th, 2002: "Because I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women"[5]
  • Sept. 29, 2002: "I believe we can win an overwhelming victory, in a very short time" [6]
  • Mar. 23, 2003: “I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short.”[7]
  • June 4, 2004: “The terrorists know that this is a very critical time.”[7]
  • Dec. 4, 2005: "We will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year." [8]
  • Aug. 20, 2006: (In response to the question, "You agree this is a critical moment in Iraq?") "I agree it’s a critical time, yes."[7]
  • Dec. 8, 2005: "Overall, I think a year from now, we will have a fair amount of progress [in Iraq] if we stay the course.” (When confronted by Tim Russert on Meet the Press on November 12, 2006, McCain admitted that that has "proven not to be correct.")[7]
  • Aug. 22, 2006: "The American people ... were led to believe that this would be some kind of a day at the beach which many of us, uh, fully understood from the very beginning would be a very, very difficult undertaking"[9]
  • Oct. 19, 2006: "I think that, first of all, things are very serious there. And to say otherwise I don’t think would be an accurate depiction of events, and this is a very critical time." [7]
  • Nov. 12, 2006: It is a "critical time" in Iraq and "we’re either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months." [7]
  • Nov. 13, 2006: "The fate of the Iraqi venture will be decided in the next six months or so." [10]
For more expired statements on when progress could be expected in Iraq, see Friedman (Iraq War time unit).

See also: Congressional actions on the Iraq War


Veterans issues

In 2006, Senator McCain supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 20 percent; the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator McCain a grade of D; and he sponsored or co-sponsored 18 percent of the legislation favored by the the Retired Enlisted Association.


  • - Commitment to America's Service Members: Past and Present

National Security issues

Senator McCain supported the interests of the Center for Security Policy 59 percent in 2005-2006.


Foreign aid and policy issues

In 2007, Citizens for Global Solutions gave Senator McCain a grade of B-, while the senator supported the interests of the Council for a Livable World 0 percent that year.



John McCain in an ardent supporter of Israel and its government's policies. On his website he poses in front of an American and Israeli flags. Ron Kampeas described McCain's efforts to reach out to the Jewish community in a January 2007 piece in JTA, a Jewish news service:

[Presidential candidates] are lining up Jewish support... This month, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) plucked Jay Zeidman, President Bush’s popular Jewish outreach official, to lead his Jewish campaign... McCain's Jewish strategy mirrors his broader realignment in recent years with Republicans who are loyal to President Bush, leaving behind the bloodletting of the tough 2000 primaries campaign.

In addition to Jay Zeidman, he is counting on an endorsement from the former White House liaison's father, Fred Zeidman, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and a major fund-raiser for Bush. Another likely endorser is Ned Siegel, who was the named plaintiff in the successful effort to stop the Florida recount, a decision that placed Bush in the White House.

McCain has a solid pro-Israel record, and he has been outspoken about isolating Iran as long as it poses a nuclear threat. He made that call most recently in a satellite address at this week's Herzliya Conference and in October at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.

McCain has toughened his opposition to abortion and gay marriage, positions that place him at odds with most American Jews. Yet he also has forged alliances with domestic Jewish groups on issues such as campaign-finance reform and against torture.[11]

Military issues

Senator McCain supported the interests of the Women's Action for New Directions 0 percent in 2005, and the Non Commissioned Officers Association 100 percent in 2003.


Criticism of Gen. George Casey

As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, McCain, as well as Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and John Ensign, voted against the confirmation of General George Casey to the chief of staff of the Army in early February 2007. The committee voted, however, 14-3. [2]

In February 2007 McCain was highly critical of Gen. George Casey, the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Iraq who was nominated to be the Army's chief of staff. During a Senate hearing McCain said:

While there are very pressing questions about the future of the Army, you will, of course, in this hearing be asked to review the mistakes in American strategy in Iraq during your command, how the previous Iraq strategy was formulated, why it failed, and why it was not changed sooner, and the lessons that were learned…And you’ll need to explain why your assessment of the situation in Iraq has differed so radically from that of most observers and why your predictions of future success have been so unrealistically rosy. [12]


McCain and Rumsfeld

In December 2004, McCain stated that he had "no confidence" in then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. McCain refused to call for his resignation, however, saying that he respected President George W. Bush's authority to keep "the team that he wants around him" in office.[1] [13]

On February 19, 2007, while campaigning in South Carolina, McCain delivered scathing criticism of Rumsfeld, saying he "will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense." He also stated, "We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement -- that's the kindest word I can give you -- of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war."[14]



Criticism of Sen. Harry Reid for criticizing Gen. Peter Pace

In June 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Peter Pace "incompetent." McCain then released a statement saying that Reid's comments were "incredibly disappointing" and "highly inappropriate." [15]

Articles and resources

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "McCain criticizes Pentagon on Iraq war,", Dec. 5, 2004.
  2. John McCain, "Winning the War in Iraq" (speech), official Senate website, Nov. 10, 2005.
  3. "McCain Strolls Through Baghdad Market, Accompanied By 100 Soldiers, 3 Blackhawks, 2 Apache Gunships," ThinkProgress, Apr. 1, 2007.
  4. John Broder, "McCain Says He Erred on Iraq Security," New York Times, Apr. 7, 2007.
  5. Youtube video recording Larry King Live, Sept 24th, 2002
  6. CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER transcript CNN, September 29, 2002
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Nico Pitney, "McCain Claims Iraq Will Be Won Or Lost In ‘Next Several Months,’ Admits Previous Prediction Was Wrong," ThinkProgress, Nov. 12, 2006.
  8. Meet the Press "Transcript for December 4," MSNBC, December 4, 2005.
  9. CNN, Aug 22, 2006
  10. John M. Broder, "POLITICAL MEMO; In Call for More Troops, McCain Places His Bet on Iraq," New York Times, November 14, 2006.
  11. Ron Kampeas, "As candidates enter 2008 race, they begin courting Jewish support," JTA Jan. 15, 2007.
  12. Nico Pitney, "McCain Hypocritically Attacks Reid For Criticizing General," ThinkProgress, June 14, 2007.
  13. "Rumsfeld under fire over Iraq," NBC and MSNBC, Dec. 15, 2004.
  14. Thomas B. Edsall, "A Smoke-Filled War Room," New York Times, Mar. 22, 2007.
  15. Nico Pitney, "McCain Hypocritically Attacks Reid For Criticizing General," ThinkProgress, June 14, 2007.

External resources

External articles