McCain: Bush Escalation Is Too Small

In October 2006, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for “another 20,000 troops in Iraq.” In January 2007, President Bush accepted the idea and announced he would send 21,500 more soldiers into the middle of Iraq’s civil war. McCain quickly endorsed the strategy.

Since that time, McCain has been slowly back-pedaling from the escalation plan, offering numerous reasons for why the strategy will not succeed. He has argued the Pentagon was “dragging its feet” in implementing the strategy. Now, he is arguing that the escalation is too small.

On NBC’s Meet the Press, McCain said, “I would have liked to have seen more” troops sent to Iraq. He added, “If it had been up to me,” more U.S. troops would be on their way into Baghdad. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/01/mccainsmall.320.240.flv]

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Full transcript:

RUSSERT: [quoting The Economist] ‘Adding around 20,000 to the 132,000 currently there will increase U.S. capabilities but not enough to stabilize the country.’ Do you agree with that?

MCCAIN: I am concerned about it, whether it is sufficient numbers or not. I would have liked to have seen more.

I looked General Petraeus in the eye and said is that sufficient for you to do the job? He assured me he thought it was and that he had been told if he needed more, he would receive them. I have great confidence in General Petraeus. I think he’s one of the finest generals that our military has ever produced, and he has a proven record on that. He wrote the new army counterinsurgency manual.

But do I believe that if it had been up to me would there have been more? Yes. But one of the keys to this is get them over there quickly, rather than feed them in piecemeal as some in the Pentagon would like to do today.