Arizona Sen. John McCain offered some blunt advice today to Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and other critics of continued U.S. military involvement in Libya and Afghanistan.
“I hope that all of these candidates as the campaign goes on understands what our national security requirements are, that we are the world’s leader, America has to lead, as we are not leading in Libya, which is one reason why that conflict, third rate military, has not been concluded,” McCain told me on “GMA.”
“I hope that they will learn and listen to people like Gen. David Petraeus and others, who has the highest not only respect and admiration but a record of success,” he said.
Huntsman has said “we just can’t afford” participation in the NATO operation in Libya, and he’s raised concerns about prolonged involvement in Afghanistan, where he says, “we’re wasting our money and we’re wasting our strategic resources.”
McCain wouldn’t directly say whether Huntsman’s views should disqualify him from getting the party’s presidential nomination.
With President Obama poised to announce a reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beginning next month, McCain said he agrees with Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a “modest withdrawal” is “important.”
But he added that he would be “very reluctant to reduce the surge troops capability,” referring to the more than 30,000 troops President Obama ordered sent to Afghanistan in 2009 to help stem the violence there.
“I believe that one more fighting season and we can get this thing pretty much wrapped up,” he said.