Transcript: Sec. Gates and Sen. McCain

MCCAIN: But there was no control. The country was in flames in sectarian violence. The Maliki government didn't have any authority outside the gates of his residence. It was far, far worse.

But then we implemented a strategy where we went in and provided an environment of security so that the political and economic process -- two steps forward, one step back -- and we -- and we succeeded. And it's because we gave people an environment where they could start living some semblance of normal daily lives. That's a counterinsurgency strategy.

MCCAIN: What the opponents are talking about is a counterterrorism strategy. You can't just sit off on the sidelines and kill people, as Secretary Gates said. You've got to have the intelligence. You've got to be there with the people. And you have to make a -- a real commitment.

Our allies in the region -- while we're waiting, our friends in the region are getting very nervous, as well as our European allies.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of those opponents is the former commandant of the Marine Corps, Chuck Krulak, who wrote George Will just a few weeks ago laying out his ideas. And he seemed to echo something that we hear that General Casey -- General George Casey, the chief of the staff of the Army -- also talks about, and that is there is simply too much stress on our forces now for a big surge.

Listen to Commandant Krulak: "Not only are our troops being run ragged, but equally important and totally off most people's radar screens, our equipment is being run ragged. At some point in time, the bill for that equipment will come due and it will be a very large bill."

It's a valid concern, isn't it?

MCCAIN: I think it's a very legitimate concern. The fact is, recruiting and retention, they're at all-time highs. The fact is, this has been an enormous strain on these men and women and their families, incredible strain. But nothing helps morale more than victory, and nothing hurts morale more than defeat.

It took our military more than a decade to recover from the loss in Vietnam, and yet now that we've succeeded in Iraq -- and we've got a long ways to go -- then I am confident that our military will do what's necessary and they'll do it because they know the mission that they're carrying out is one of vital importance to our national security.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's going to take more than a decade to succeed, isn't it?

MCCAIN: I think you will see signs of success in a year to 18 months, if we implement the strategy right away.

By the way, I sympathize with the president. The base of his party, the left base of his party, is opposed. This is -- American people are weary of this conflict. And I -- I do have sympathy for the president in making this decision. It's the toughest decision a president has to make, to send people into harm's way, but I'd remind you throughout history, whether it be Harry Truman or Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln, leaders have had to make tough choices, and history has judged them very kindly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Have you spoken directly to the president about your concerns?

MCCAIN: Yesterday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what did -- what did you say to him?

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