(AFP) – Jul 19, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — John McCain on Saturday asked if his Democratic rival Barack Obama would be wrong about Afghanistan as, in the Republican presidential hopeful's view, he had been about Iraq.
"Senator Obama announced his strategy for Afghanistan and Iraq before departing on a fact-finding mission that will include visits to both those countries.
"Apparently, he's confident enough that he won't find any facts that might change his opinion or alter his strategy. Remarkable," McCain said in a radio address, released by his campaign as Obama visited Afghanistan.
"This is similar to the mistake Senator Obama made when he confidently declared that the surge in Iraq could not possibly reduce sectarian violence there, and might well increase violence," McCain said.
"He was so certain the surge would fail that he called for our troops to retreat as quickly as possible."
The Arizona senator noted that Obama's previous statements opposing the "surge" of some 30,000 additional US troops to Iraq last year have been removed from his camapaign website.
"But we all remember quite well that he said the surge would fail, and today we know that he was wrong," McCain argued.
McCain said that while "the situation in Iraq is much improved, the war in Afghanistan has taken a bad turn that must be quickly reversed.
"Security in that country has deteriorated, and our enemies are on the offensive. And it is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to victory over the Taliban.
"Sending more forces, by itself, is not enough to prevail. What we need in Afghanistan is exactly what General David Petraeus brought to Iraq: a nationwide civil-military campaign plan that is focused on providing security for the population.
"Today no such integrated plan exists. When I am commander-in-chief, it will," McCain said.
He added that "a cardinal rule in any military operation is unity of command, and this has been lacking in our Afghan campaign. ... This is not a smart military practice, and it is not how wars are won. As commander-in-chief, I will work with our allies to ensure unity of command."
Obama arrived in Afghanistan Saturday to visit troops and assess efforts against extremist violence at the start of a major international tour, officials said.
Obama will meet Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Sunday, the Afghan government said. He will also visit some of the 36,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan, many of them in the east of the country along the border with Pakistan.
He is due to travel on to Iraq Monday and then to Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain. The Illinois senator said in the days building up to the tour that Afghanistan needs more help as it battles the Taliban-led insurgency.
If he wins the November elections, he plans to commit at least two more combat brigades, up to 10,000 men, to Afghanistan while downscaling the size of the force in Iraq.
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