McCain: Obama Doing What I Would Do on Battlefields

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Aug 23, 2009 7:00am

John McCain told me he has no quarrel with how President Obama is prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he’s worried that the commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, is being pressured not to produce a clean recommendation for more troops.

My exclusive interview with Senator McCain took place far away from the world’s hot spots, on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, where he’s preparing for Senate Field Hearings on the National Parks. But McCain’s mind was clearly on what he had just witnessed on his extensive Congressional Delegation tour this month to Afghanistan and Iraq.

He’s concerned that McChrystal’s strategic review (expected in the next couple of weeks) won’t include a specific request for more troops. "We need to know exactly what resources he needs," McCain said. "General McChrystal is going to make some recommendations.  I’m not happy with what he’s going to do…it will be high-risk, medium risk, low risk.  Whenever you do that, they always pick the medium risk.  I think he ought to do what General Pertraeus did, and that’s decide exactly on the number he needs and then we debate it."

McCain said McChrystal is under "great pressures" from people in the Administration to reduce estimates for more troops.  "From the President?" I asked.  “No,” McCain, said, "I think it’s from people around him and others…that I think don’t want to see a significant increase in our troop presence there." In fact, he had no criticism for Obama on the war front.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  "Would we be fighting these two wars any differently if you were president now?"

MCCAIN:  "Not now."

Read the full interview HERE.

- George Stephanopoulos

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