John McCain took to the morning shows on Friday to lament the increasingly worsening situation in Iraq and the ensuing “existential threat” to the United States, butting heads with hosts who disagreed that leaving residual American troops in the country would have helped stabilize the country.
MSNBC Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski questioned whether the Bush administration was in part to blame for the recent turn of events.
“What about the fact that we had it won?” McCain sharply responded. “I expected you and others to blame it on all these different events, but the fact is we had the conflict won.”
The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein jumped in and said he was “confused” by the Arizona senator’s approach and definition of victory, and asked if he wanted troops in Iraq without an end date.
“I think you are confused because you didn’t know what happened with the surge where we basically had the country pacified,” McCain responded. “We had a stable government in Baghdad, and we had the conflict basically, for all intents and purposes, won.”
“Most military experts will tell you that,” he continued. “So I’m sorry about your confusion, but the facts on the ground were that al-Qaeda had been defeated almost completely and with the residual American force and at that time, a strong Iraq.”
Later, on CNN, McCain continued his critique of the Obama administration’s policy, and noted that he similarly called on the Bush administration to fire Donald Rumsfeld for his handling of Iraq.
“We could have won this, we sacrificed over 4,000 people,” he said. “If I sound angry about this, I’m sorry, but I know too many of these people, I’ve met too many at Walter Reed that have been wounded.”
“We could have solved this conflict — we had it won thanks to the surge — and we blew it all,” McCain went on. ”That’s a tragedy.”