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Statement By John McCain On Fifth Anniversary Of Iraq Invasion

March 19, 2008

ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq:

"Today in Iraq, America and our allies stand on the precipice of winning a major victory against radical Islamic extremism. The security gains over the past year have been dramatic and undeniable. Al Qaeda and Shia extremists -- with support from external powers such as Iran -- are on the run but not defeated. Tough fighting remains ahead, especially in places like Mosul. Important political gains have also been made, but far more must be done in coming months to cement the gains made in huge cost in American blood and treasure.

"Americans should be proud that they led the way in removing a vicious, predatory dictator and opening the possibility of a free and stable Iraq. Americans should be proud that once we implemented the surge and new counterinsurgency strategy, a dire situation has been dramatically improved. And, Americans know that the consequences of failure would leave our nation less secure for generations to come."

John McCain's campaign today further re-released a web feature on that chronicles the Senator's leadership on Iraq and in the larger fight against Islamic extremists. The page, entitled "Fighting Islamic Extremists: Progress in Iraq," features a four year timeline of John McCain's unrelenting call for a new strategy for victory in Iraq -- the strategy currently winning on the ground.

Visit Website Feature : "Fighting Islamic Extremists: Progress in Iraq"

John McCain: "The Loudest Voice For A Change In Iraq," As He Was "Dead On In His Analysis Of What Went Wrong In Iraq"

The Weekly Standard'sFred Barnes: "The Loudest Voice For A Change In Iraq Was Senator John McCain Of Arizona." "But the loudest voice for a change in Iraq was Senator John McCain of Arizona. He and his sidekick, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, traveled repeatedly to Iraq. McCain badgered Bush and Hadley with phone calls urging more troops and a different strategy. Together, McCain, Keane, Petraeus, the network of Army officers, and Kagan provided a supportive backdrop for adopting a new strategy." (Fred Barnes, "How Bush Decided On The Surge," The Weekly Standard, 2/4/08)

· Newsweek'sMichael Hirsh: "As We Now Know Nearly Four Years Later, McCain Was Dead On In His Analysis Of What Went Wrong In Iraq." "In early November 2003, at a time when Fred Dalton Thompson was playing a tough D.A. on 'Law and Order,' John McCain was cross-examining Donald Rumsfeld for real on Capitol Hill. It was still very early into the U.S. occupation of Iraq, but the as-yet-unacknowledged (by Rummy, that is) insurgency was already out of control. Alone among his fellow GOP senators, McCain blasted Rumsfeld for not putting enough U.S. troops on the ground, and for resorting too soon to 'Iraqification' -- that is, transferring security to ill-prepared Iraqi forces. In an extraordinarily blunt speech at the Council on Foreign Relations that grim autumn, McCain warned that ultimately Iraq could become another Vietnam 'if we lose popular support in the United States.' The next day, the secretary of Defense asked McCain to breakfast. 'I read your speech,' harrumphed Rumsfeld (that 'must have been an enjoyable experience for him,' McCain later joked to me). Then Rummy patiently explained to his fellow Republican why he and his top civilian brass (Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and the usual crowd of incompetents) would continue to do things the same way. They 'believed there was no need for additional troops,' McCain later related. McCain had already realized that Rumsfeld was a lost cause. The real question, the senator suggested to me back then, was whether George W. Bush himself would push Rummy to make changes. 'I'd like to see the president fully engaged,' McCain said. Bush needed to be on top of 'more details of what's going on.' As we now know nearly four years later, McCain was dead on in his analysis of what went wrong in Iraq. Right down to the need for Bush to get engaged and fire Rumsfeld. McCain was so right that, among military experts today, the emerging conventional wisdom about Bush's current 'surge' is that if it had occurred back then -- when McCain wanted it and the political will existed in this country to support it for the necessary number of years -- it might well have succeeded." (Michael Hirsh, "Why McCain's Collapse Matters," Newsweek, 7/26/07)

New Hampshire Union Leader:"Of All The Candidates For President, It Was John McCain And Only John McCain Who Not Only Opposed Donald Rumsfeld's Iraq Strategy From The Start But Offered A Viable Alternative For Winning ..." "Of all the candidates for President, it was John McCain and only John McCain who not only opposed Donald Rumsfeld's Iraq strategy from the start but offered a viable alternative for winning that ill-fated war. When the Democrats cried 'Retreat!' and other Republicans shouted 'Stay the course!' McCain listened to the commanders on the ground. He discerned the path to victory early, and only after the President finally did what McCain had urged for years did the tide begin to turn in our favor. That is the kind of judgment America needs in the oval office." (Editorial, "Commander In Chief: McCain Is The Best Choice," New Hampshire Union Leader, 12/25/07)

· Boston Herald:"McCain knew that the administration's early military strategy was not enough to get the job done. And he was among the first to sign on to this year's troop surge as devised by Gen. David Petraeus." (Editorial, "Choice Is Clear: McCain's The One," Boston Herald, 12/20/07)

John McCain: Fighting For A Winning Strategy In Iraq Since August 2003

Washington PostHeadline, August 24, 2003: "McCain Says U.S. Needs More Money, Troops in Iraq." (Mike Allen, "McCain Says U.S. Needs More Money, Troops in Iraq," The Washington Post, 8/24/03)

· August 2003:"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said after visiting Baghdad last week that President Bush needs to level with the public about the need for more U.S. troops as well as dramatically more spending to make postwar Iraq peaceful enough for democracy to unfold. ... 'We need to tell the American people directly, and I think they'll support it,' McCain said from Islamabad, Pakistan. 'We must win this conflict. We need a lot more military, and I'm convinced we need to spend a lot more money.'" (Mike Allen, "McCain Says U.S. Needs More Money, Troops in Iraq," The Washington Post, 8/24/03)

November 2003:"To win in Iraq, we should increase the number of forces in-country, including Marines and Special Forces, to conduct offensive operations. I believe we must have in place another full division, giving us the necessary manpower to conduct a focused counterinsurgency campaign across the Sunni triangle that seals off enemy operating areas, conducts search and destroy operations and holds territory. Such a strategy would be the kind of new mission General Sanchez agreed would require additional forces. It's a mystery to me why they are not forthcoming. We cannot achieve our political goals as long as a strategic region of Iraq is in a state of fundamental insecurity." (John McCain, Remarks To Council On Foreign Relations, Washington, DC 11/5/03)

April 2004: "When I came back last August from Iraq, I said we needed more troops, thousands that were special forces, linguists, civil affairs type of people, that we'd be dealing with this new insurgency that we are now seeing in spades. Yes, I believe we need more, thousands more of the right kind of military personnel." (CNN's "Inside Politics," 4/6/04)

· April 2004: "I was there in last August and have said since then that we needed more troops, we need them very badly. We may be paying a price for not having had more troops there, and I feel sorry for these young men and women having to remain there, but they know their job and I'm sure they'll do it well." (John McCain, Remarks At Media Availability, Washington, DC, 4/11/04)

· April 2004: "[W]hen I was there in Iraq in August, I talked to [the] British. I talked to sergeant majors. I talked to colonels and captains. And I came back absolutely convinced that we needed more boots on the ground. These people warned me. They said, 'Look, if you don't have more soldiers here, you're going to lose control of this situation and you're going to face an insurgency some months from now.' I begged and pleaded that we send more troops. Secretary Rumsfeld said, 'Well, our commanders on the ground haven't asked for them.' It's not up to the commanders on the ground. It's up to the leadership of the country to make these decisions. That's why we elect them and have civilian supremacy. We're now facing a terrible insurgency. We can prevail, but we've got to have more people over there to get the job done." (Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," 4/14/04)

· April 2004: "Third, it is painfully clear that we need more troops. Before the war, the U.S. Army chief of staff said that several hundred thousand troops would be necessary to keep the peace. While criticized at the time, General [Eric K.] Shinseki now looks prescient. I have said since my visit to Iraq last August that our military presence is insufficient to bring stability to the country. We should increase the number of forces, including Marines and Special Forces, to conduct offensive operations. There is also a dire need for other types of forces, including linguists, intelligence officers, and civil affairs officers. We must deploy at least another full division, and probably more." (John McCain, Remarks To Council On Foreign Relations, Washington, DC, 4/22/04)

May 2004: "We need more troops in, need more troops now. Yes, there are more troops that are going to stay there, but we may even need more than that, and we have to expand the size of the military. We really do." (Fox News' "The Big Story With John Gibson," 5/10/04)

June 2004: "Some of this could have been prevented if Secretary Rumsfeld had recognized long ago what so many of us were saying urgently, that we needed more troops on the ground in Iraq, particularly of particular specifications, specialties that these people have that are being called up involuntarily." (MSNBC's "Hardball," 6/29/04)

August 2004: "I think the events on the ground right now indicate clearly that we cannot bring anybody home. In certain areas we may even have to strengthen our troop presence." (ABC's "Good Morning America," 8/11/04)

September 2004: "I think that we need more troops in Iraq. I've thought that for a long time, election or no election. ... [I]'ve been asking since a year ago last August. So I'm not sure that the elections have a lot to do with it, but I've been saying since a year ago August that we needed more boots on the ground, particularly in the form of Special Forces, civil affairs, linguists and others." (CNBC's "Capital Report," 9/23/04)

November 2004: "It's very tough and we still need more troops. We still need more people there. I believe those reports of those young Marines that said, 'Look, unless we keep a significant presence here, they're going to filter back in.'" (NBC's "Meet The Press," 11/21/04)

December 2004: "[T]he problem that we have here is that the Pentagon has been reacting to initiatives of the enemy rather than taking initiatives from which the enemy has to react to. Many of us, as long as a year and a half ago, said, 'You have to have more people there. You have to have more linguists. You have to have more special forces. You have to have' -- and the Pentagon has reluctantly, obviously, gradually made some increases. And the problem, when you react, you have to extend people on duty there, which is terrible for morale. There's a terrific strain on Guard and reservists. If you plan ahead, then you don't have to do some of these things. The military is too small. The good news is we went into Fallujah and we dug then out of there. And I'm proud of the work. These men and women are magnificent. Their leadership is magnificent. The bad news is we allowed Fallujah to become a sanctuary to start with. So, yes, we need more troops. Yes, we have to win." (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 12/5/04)

December 2004:"I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops -- linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc. ... There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue." (Beth DeFalco, "McCain Says He Has 'No Confidence' In Secretary Of Defense," The Associated Press,12/13/04)

June 2005: "I think we need -- I think we need more troops there ... because we're not staying once we attack and clear. We've got stay and expand." (MSNBC's "Hardball," 6/28/05)

· June 2005: "I've thought for a long, long time, since the very beginning, that we needed more troops, and one of the reasons why we've experienced many of the difficulties we have is we didn't have enough boots on the ground, and we still do." (CNN's "American Morning," 6/29/05)

August 2005: "We not only don't need to withdraw, we need more troops there." (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 8/14/05)

· August 2005: TIME's MIKE DUFFY: "Do you think we need more troops?" SEN. MCCAIN: "I've always said that ... I think we need more and I think they need to stay longer. The problem is, is that we didn't expand the size of the Army and the Marine Corps and we put enormous strains on the Guard and Reserves and on active duty personnel. We need to expand the Army and expand the Marine Corps, and have more troops over there for as long as is necessary. The irony here is that we could have had less troops here now if we had had more troops when they were needed where, in the view of literally every military person I talked to in Iraq, right after the victory." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 8/28/05)

September 2005: "I have always said we need more troops. I believed it then. I believe it now." (NPR's "Morning Edition," 9/20/05)

November 2005: "Securing ever-increasing parts of Iraq and preventing the emergence of new terrorist safe havens will require more troops and money. It will take time, probably years, and mean more American casualties. Those are terrible prices to pay. But with the stakes so high, I believe we must choose the strategy with the best chance of success." (John McCain, Remarks To American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, 11/10/05)

· November 2005: "To enhance our chances of success with this strategy and enable our forces to hold as much territory as possible, we need more troops. For this reason, I believe that current ideas to effect a partial drawdown during 2006 are exactly wrong. ... Instead of drawing down, we should be ramping up, with more civil-military soldiers, translators and counterinsurgency operations teams." (John McCain, Remarks To American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, 11/10/05)

December 2005: "I've wanted to send troops. I still think we should have more troops there." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 12/4/05)

March 2006: "Of course, I would, quote, like to see more troops." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 3/30/06)

April 2006:"It's well known, because I was asked a direct question about my confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld, that I do not have confidence. But that does not mean that I'm calling for his removal, because that's what the president of the United States' job is." (CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees," 4/13/06)

June 2006: "You know, I've always said that we needed more troops over there. I have said that for years." (CBS' "Evening News," 6/20/06)

July 2006: CNN's JOHN KING: "The United States is sending more troops to Iraq. What do you think?" SEN. MCCAIN: "I think it's necessary. I think it was necessary a long, long time ago. I think one of the biggest mistakes we made that we've paid a very heavy price for was not having enough boots on the ground. I said that three years ago." (CNN's "Larry King Live," 7/26/06)

August 2006: NBC's DAVID GREGORY: "But to do that, do you need more U.S. soldiers on the ground now?" SEN. MCCAIN: "I think so. I think so. We took troops from places like Ramadi, which are still not under control, to put them into Baghdad. We've had to send in additional troops as they are. All along, we have not had enough troops on the ground to control the situation. Many, many people knew that and it's -- we're paying a very heavy price for it. But I want to emphasize that we cannot lose this. It will cause chaos in Iraq and in the region, and it's -- I still believe that we, we must prevail." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 8/20/06)

· August 2006: "I know that military commanders on the ground need more troops, whether they're asking for them or not. But see, this is kind of a false argument. ... It's not up to the commanders on the ground, it's up to the leaders who assess the entire battlefield situation to decide whether they need. I've known very few -- General McCaffrey's going to follow us -- I've known very few commanders in the field who see I -- say, 'I need help.'" (NBC's "Meet The Press," 8/20/06)

September 2006: "I still think we need more troops over there." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 9/24/06)

October 2006: "I would increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by some hundred thousand people, and I would send more troops over there where necessary and I would listen very carefully to my military commanders." (CBS' "Evening News," 10/19/06)

November 2006: "I believe that there are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this, but they all require the presence of additional troops. ... I also said three years ago, if we don't have more troops over there, and we don't do what's necessary, we are going to be doomed to failure. I gave a speech to the Foreign Relations -- Council on Foreign Relations -- that said basically that, and I've been saying it all along in every hearing, and I've been saying, 'You are going to face this situation we're facing today if we didn't have a more robust presence and a better strategy,' and that's -- I proved to be right in that respect." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 11/12/06)

December 2006: "We must have more troops over there. That has to be accompanied by a larger Marine Corps or Army. ... And we have to have a big enough surge that we can get Baghdad under control and then Anbar province under control." (Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume," 12/12/06)

January 2007: "The presence of additional coalition forces would give the Iraqi government the ability to do what it cannot accomplish today on its own: impose its rule throughout the country. In bringing security to Iraq, and chiefly to Baghdad, our forces would give the government a fighting chance to pursue reconciliation. ... There are two keys to any surge of U.S. troops. To be of value the surge must be substantial and it must be sustained -- it must be substantial and it must be sustained. We will need a large number of troops. During our recent trip commanders on the ground spoke of a surge of three to five additional brigades in Baghdad and at least an additional brigade in Anbar province. I believe these numbers are the minimum that's required -- a minimum. We need more of the right kind of troops: civil affairs teams, special forces, translators, troops to conduct information operations, among others. The mission of these reinforcements would be to implement the thus-elusive hold element of the military's clear, hold, build strategy, to maintain security in cleared areas to protect the population and critical infrastructure, and to impose the government's authority: essential elements of a traditional counterinsurgency strategy." (John McCain, Remarks To American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, 1/5/07)

The New Strategy Is Winning On The Ground In Iraq

Chicago Tribune:"One year ago, fresh American troops were dispatched as part of the 'surge' into Baghdad to tamp down violence and allow political reconciliation. It has been a remarkable year, with violence plummeting and streams of emigres returning to Baghdad. And on Wednesday, Iraq's political leaders finally held up their end of the bargain. The Iraqi parliament did three things. It approved a budget, to start moving on crucial reconciliation projects. It passed a new law to define the scope of provincial powers, critical to power sharing. And it promoted reconciliation by granting a general amnesty for thousands of Iraqi prisoners. That's huge progress. ... Progress, political and military, is fragile but real." (Editorial, "Iraq's Breakthrough," Chicago Tribune, 2/15/08)

The Washington Post:"The evidence is now overwhelming that the 'surge' of U.S. military forces in Iraq this year has been, in purely military terms, a remarkable success." (Editorial, "Iraq's Narrow Window," The Washington Post, 11/18/07)

ABC News: "American troops are spending their fifth Thanksgiving at war in Iraq. Last year on this day, Baghdad was in lockdown after one of that city's deadliest suicide bombings. But the headlines in recent weeks have been different. And today, our Baghdad correspondent, Terry McCarthy, got an extraordinary look at the country, traveling with the number two US general there, Ray Odierno. ... The message we get from US commanders in bases outside Baghdad is pretty much the same wherever we go, cautious optimism. Not only is there a huge increase in Iraqi citizens groups who are coming forward to help the Americans, but overall levels of violence have gone way down. When the surge started, three or four Americans were being killed every day in Iraq. Now that number's gone down to about one a day. And for Iraqis, reasons to be thankful, as well. Civilian deaths in Baghdad are down 65% compared to six months ago. Car bombs are down 47%." (ABC World News, 11/22/07)

The New York Times: "The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad's streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says. As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark." (Damien Cave and Alissa J. Rubin, "Baghdad's Weary Start To Exhale As Security Improves," The New York Times, 11/20/07)

John McCain, Statement By John McCain On Fifth Anniversary Of Iraq Invasion Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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