October 12, 2014

John McCain was once again calling for President Obama to put U.S. troops on the ground to defeat ISIS -- public opinion be damned -- and told CNN's Candy Crowley he wasn't "advocating sending battalions back" into Iraq, but we all know that will be next as he continues to move the goal posts with his demands for military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

I'd love just once for one of these hosts on cable "news" to ask him just what his definition of "winning" is. Bernie Sanders, who followed McCain's appearance is exactly right. After 12 years and trillions of dollars, countless lives lost and soldiers coming home with PTSD, this is nothing more than wanting to suck us into another quagmire in the Middle East and perpetual war.

McCain ISIS "is winning, and we're not":

CROWLEY: OK. And let me get you back to something that you and I have talked about before, and that is this war on ISIS.

We see territory - Kurdish territory in Syria that seems in danger of falling to ISIS. We now see Anbar province, which just seems to be just one city or so away from being taken over by ISIS. This is despite two months worth of U.S. or U.S.-led air strikes. So what is next in this activity against ISIS? I know you want to call it a war. Whatever you want to call it, what does the U.S. do next?

MCCAIN: First of all, they're winning and we're not. And the Iraqis are not winning, the Peshmerga, the Kurds are not winning, and there's a lot of aspects of this. But there has to be a fundamental re-evaluation of what we're doing because we are not - we are not degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS.

I don't believe that ISIS will take Baghdad, but I think they can take the airport and that is crippling. And I also think that they can infiltrate into Baghdad with explosives, suicide bombings, et cetera, they can really dislocate - well, the first thing you've got to do is recognize that this present pinprick bombing is not working. Second of all, you need more boots on the ground in form – in the form of forward air controllers, special forces and other people like that.

You have to arm the Peshmerga, who are using old weapons that are Russian vintage against ISIS, who's using ours. You have to do, I believe, what Erdogan and the Turks are asking and that is we create a buffer inside Syria and a no-fly zone. It's immoral to send free Syrian army people into the barrel bombing of Bashar al Assad. And by the way, as we bomb is, Bashar al Assad moves in and he has intensified his strikes against the free Syrian army.


MCCAIN: So there has to be, Candy, a re-evaluation and a reengineering of what we're doing, because it's not working.

CROWLEY: There are U.S. advisers, as you know, some of them with Iraqi troops, at least in the protection of Baghdad or around Baghdad. You know that there is not public support for any kind of battalions of U.S. soldiers going back to Iraq. But there has not seemed to be any other country willing to put people inside Iraq to fight ISIS. So where does this go?

I mean, when the - if the administration - I'm sure every day they're looking at it and saying, OK, do we need to refigure this? I mean, how do you refigure it given all of the restraints there are in taking this fight to ISIS?

MCCAIN: First of all, I'm not advocating sending battalions back in...


MCCAIN: ...but we can do a lot more down at the operating level. We have to understand there's no boundary between Syria and Iraq. Why should we differentiate? Certainly ISIS doesn't.

We certainly must give them the weapons and capabilities that they need. But right now we are going to have to have effective air strikes. You can't have that without forward air controllers on the ground. In Kobani, there's no way you can use - orchestrate air support in that kind of urban fighting.

The ISIS has adjusted to these air strikes. Fortunately for them we gave them two weeks warning. And so this has to be a robust campaign with American forward air controllers and Special Forces on the ground supplying weapons to the Peshmerga and also supplying the free Syrian army and recognizing that you have to go after ISIS and Bashar al Assad at the same time or you will not succeed.

CROWLEY: I want to ask you about Kobani.

The U.N. special envoy to Syria has warned that if Kobani falls, the civilians that are left in that city, as I understand it almost half of it now under ISIS control that they will all be massacred, who likely to be massacred. Who protects those civilians?

MCCAIN: I don't think that it's possible to protect those civilians who are basically trapped within Kobani. I also agree there will be a massacre.

I remember when 8,000 people were ethnically cleansed in Srebrenica, which then galvanized Bill Clinton for us to intervene in Bosnia some time ago. We can't afford to let this continue. And the stronger ISIS gets, the greater the threat to the United States of America. That's what we have to understand and that's why tough decisions have to be made and not gradually. We have to completely revamp our strategy, which clearly is not succeeding.

CROWLEY: And by revamping, you want more powerful, broader more expansive air strikes and boots on the ground insofar as they can be with Iraqi troops and forward-looking for the air assaults, is that correct?

MCCAIN: Buffer zone in Syria, no-fly zone, take on Bashar al Assad the same as we have ISIS. Recognize there's no distinction between Iraq and Syria, arm the Peshmerga and let it be known that we are in this thing to win because it is a threat to the United States of America if they are able to establish this caliphate.


MCCAIN: General Allen had said that it would take more than a year to retake Mosul, the second largest city. We can't afford that.

CROWLEY: Senator John McCain, thank you so much...

MCCAIN: Thank you.


Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.