McCain: Iraq Conflict Poses 'Existential Threat' to US

Friday, 13 Jun 2014 10:13 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The conflict that's embroiled Islamic militants against the Iraqi government poses an "existential threat" to the United States, warns Sen. John McCain.

A surge in hostility in Iraq over the past several days has resulted in the fall of cities and regions to militants fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria (ISIS). McCain said the United States should heed the ramifications of the conflict because of the threat it poses to America's national security.

"We are now facing an existential threat to the security of the United States of America," the Arizona Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday. "This has turned into one of the most serious threats to American security in recent history."

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McCain charged that "everyone in the national security team" of President Barack Obama should be fired. He suggested the president should bring in "the guys that won the war" in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Jack Keane, to "devise a strategy, and then implement it with tactics."

"I know that this team that [Obama's] got around him now ought to be fired," McCain said. "They have been a total failure."

McCain admitted there are "no good options right now" for dealing with the hostility and said he didn't feel U.S. air strikes in Iraq were necessarily the answer. The entire conflict is something McCain said he predicted in 2011 when Obama made the decision to pull troops out of Iraq without leaving a residual force.

"If we left the residual force behind that we could have, we would not be facing the crisis that we are today. Those are fundamental facts," he said.

McCain defended the idea of a residual force in Iraq because the United States has kept residual forces in other countries like Korea, Germany, Japan, and Bosnia.

"A residual force would have stabilized the country. Most military experts will tell you that," he said. "You ignore history of what we've done after conflicts, which is to leave a stabilizing force behind, which is what we could have done in Iraq and avoided this debacle that we are in today."

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