Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.) warned President Barack Obama on Tuesday that he will be risking American lives if he decides not to follow recommendations to put 40,000 additional troops into Afghanistan.
"Every day that goes by, if you do not pursue a strategy of success and end the war as quickly as possible it puts more Americans lives in more danger," said the Arizona Republican, Obama's 2008 election opponent.
Speaking before a crowd made up predominantly of neoconservatives, McCain urged the president to follow the recommendations of his chief military adviser in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who has warned that without additional troops the war could be lost. The senator conceded that presidents should have the chance to deliberate about such foreign policy matters. But he insisted that Obama has already had more than ample time to consider the best course of action in the eight-year-long war.
The senator, who has been an ally of the White House on Afghan policy to this point, said that anything less than McChrystal's approach would be doomed-to-fail incrementalism. In particular, he derided an alternate policy proposal put forth by Senator Carl Levin, (D-Mich) to grow Afghanistan's police force rather than expand U.S. troop presence in the country.
"In response to my friend Sen. Levin... We have seen the movie before," said McCain. "We have tried it once before, in Iraq. And they were wrong about Iraq."
While the general tone of McCain's remarks during his appearance at the Foreign Policy Initiative conference was tough on Obama, he did engage in a little commiseration. "I have some sympathy for the president," he said, "because a lot of his political base, a lot of the Democratic Party.... is obviously opposed to further engagement in Afghanistan."
But the sympathy was short-lived. From there, McCain contrasted the president's current predicament with that which he himself faced when he argued for a surge of forces in Iraq during the early stages of the Republican presidential primary. In the end, the senator insisted, the responsible path forward was to side with the advice of the military commanders and not to heed electoral or political demands.
"To do less than that wouldn't be fair to the 68,000 men and women who are already there," McCain said. "We don't want a strategy that wouldn't give them a maximum [chance at success]."