Mr. Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran who never found a war he didn't like John McCain thinks we should not be talking about a timeline to withdraw from Afghanistan. McCain also apparently thinks that the eight years we've already spent in Afghanistan hasn't been long enough to "break the enemy's will" so we can "win". I would like for Sen. McCain to explain how anyone "wins" an occupation. Of course that would require him admitting that's what we're doing there, which is never going to happen.
DAVID GREGORY: We're back with Senator John McCain. Welcome back to the program. A lot to discuss here. A lot to react to. Let's get to your big issue this week. The issue of withdrawal. You heard Secretary Gates say here today, "July 2011 is a date certain for the beginning of the withdrawal." Do you have a problem with that?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Yes. But let me also say-- David, I support the President's decision. I think it's the right decision. I think that it can lead to success. It's a tough decision on his part to send young Americans into harm's way. As Secretary Gates said, casualties will go up, tragically. But I think he made the right decision. And I think that-- he is-- the reality is, he's not only-- a tough decision to send young Americans into harm's way. But is-- significant elements of his own party are-- are opposed.
So, I strongly support the decision. The problem with the date certain now is that not only there's a problem with that itself, but there's-- a significant contribution between what Secretaries Gates and Clinton were saying and what the President--
DAVID GREGORY: Contradiction. Contradiction.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Contradiction.
DAVID GREGORY: Yeah.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Between what-- and what his spokesperson said just a couple of days ago. When he said the President said-- he said, "I'm directly quotin' the President that the withdrawal date is in gray-- chiseled in stone. And I am the chiseler." Now that's pretty straightforward.
So, what has that done? It has caused reactions such as you saw with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Policymakers throughout the region, Pakistan, India, Iran, as well as Afghanistan are now trying to figure out whether they can really go all in and support this effort. Or do they have to accommodate, because if we leave they have to stay in the region? So, it needs to be resolved.
It needs to be resolved in this way. That we will not leave on a date certain. But we have every confidence, I do, I have every confidence within a year to 18 months we can achieve significant success.
We were able to do that in Iraq. And we will leave and not-- allow the Taliban to make comments like Taliban prisoners are-- are saying, "You've got the watches and we have the time." We don't want to send that message.
DAVID GREGORY: But the President responded-- to this week-- privately and during-- during his address to the nation. Saying, "If he just used that logic, then that's the rationale for forever war. Then you don't ever leave."
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, the rationale for war is to break the enemy's will. That's the whole rationale for war. Do you break the enemy's will by saying, "We're gonna be there-- or send a message we're gonna be there for a year and a half or so and then we're gonna begin to leave no matter what the circumstances are"? Or do you tell 'em, "We're gonna win. And we're gonna break your will. And then we're gonna leave." That's-- that's-- that's a huge factor--
DAVID GREGORY: All right, on that--
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: --in the conduct of war. Especially when you're conducting counterinsurgency.