By Devlin Barrett Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE — Republican John McCain said today that he knows “how to win wars” and the strategy of increasing troop levels in Iraq should also be applied to Afghanistan.
“Sen. Obama will tell you we can’t win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq. In fact, he has it exactly backwards,” McCain told a town hall meeting. “It is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan.”
“I know how to win wars. And if I’m elected President, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory,” he said.
Moments earlier, his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama said in a speech in Washington the U.S. must end the war in Iraq and that Afghanistan, by contrast, is “a war that we have to win.”
McCain laid out a blueprint for intensified military efforts in Afghanistan, where nine U.S. soldiers were killed and 14 injured in a militant attack Sunday, the U.S. military’s highest death toll there in three years.
“The status quo is not acceptable. Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated, and our enemies are on the offensive,” said McCain. “From the moment the next president walks into the Oval Office, he will face critical decisions and crucial decisions about Afghanistan.”
He said three more brigades should be sent to Afghanistan, and said that he would appoint a White House czar for the Afghanistan war.
President George Bush has already appointed a so-called “war czar” for both Iraq and Afghanistan, but McCain said he wanted someone reporting directly to him with direct responsibility for Afghanistan. Obama said Monday he would send at least two more brigades to Afghanistan.
“I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice,” McCain said of the al-Qaida leader the U.S. has pursued futilely since the group’s Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.