McCain to Obama: Don’t Be Like LBJ

By Danny

Mar 31, 2009 8:15pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been largely supportive of President Obama’s plans to bolster U.S. forces in Afghanistan but he said Tuesday that his former rival should go a step further and commit now to boosting US forces in Afghanistan next year by 10,000 additional troops. By waiting until later this year to evaluate the level of forces needed, McCain thinks Obama is opening himself up to the charge that he is behaving like former President Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told a foreign policy group on March 31, 2009, in Washington, DC, that President Obama should commit now to boosting US forces in Afghanistan next year by 10,000 additional troops.
Ferdous Al-Faruque/ ABC News "The second thing I would have done, probably, is went ahead and announced the overall additional 10,000 troops, rather than be accused of a Lyndon-Johnson-style incrementalism," said McCain. "Because it’s very clear what General McKiernan asked for." McCain made his remarks in Washington, D.C., while participating in a Q&A with Robert Kagan of The Foreign Policy Initiative, a hawkish group which was recently organized by Kagan, a former speechwriter for Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, Bill Kristol, the founder of the Weekly Standard magazine, and Dan Senor, a former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates said as recently as Sunday on Fox News that the Obama administration has "fulfilled all the requirements that Gen. McKiernan has put down for 2009," McCain’s remarks could tap into concerns among senior officers that Obama is pursuing a piecemeal approach to the troop build-up in Afghanistan by not looking ahead to 2010. "He was obviously referencing the Vietnam War," McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told ABC News when asked about the invocation of LBJ. Instead of calling for 17,000 additional troops for Afghanistan when he first took office followed by 4,000 additional troops last week followed by what McCain expects will be 10,000 additional troops next year, the Arizona senator thinks Obama should talk with US commanders, anticipate the level of forces needed, and act now to prepare the public. "We will and can and must succeed," said McCain. "But it’s not going to be easy and there may not be an Anbar awakening." ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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