Published October 05, 2009
Sen. John McCain lashed out at President Obama's National Security Adviser on Monday, casting doubt on Gen. James Jones' decision-making in Afghanistan and saying the military strategy Jones recommended in Iraq was "wrong."
The Arizona Republican also criticized Jones for saying on Sunday that he "took exception" to McCain's claim on the Senate floor last week that Jones does not "want to alienate the left base of the Democrat Party," and that politics are influencing military decisions in Afghanistan.
Jones, interviewed on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, said Gen. Stanley McChrystal's call for additional troops in Afghanistan was "just one option," and he said Al Qaeda is not getting stronger there.
"The good news ... in Afghanistan is that the Al Qaeda presence is very diminished," Jones said. "The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.
"I don't foresee the return of the Taliban," Jones added. "And I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in danger -- imminent danger -- of falling."
On Monday, McCain shot back, telling the FOX Business Network: "Anybody who believes that you can hand over the country or significant parts of the country to the Taliban and not have to worry about Al Qaeda returning and working with them and becoming a base for attacks against the United States of America has no understanding of the region or the nature of the enemy."
McCain went on to criticize Jones' handling of the war in Iraq, saying his decision to send troops to Iraq's border to "kill Al Qaeda from the outside" was "wrong" and that the Obama administration should be mindful of that as it plans its military strategy in Afghanistan.
"General Jones was wrong about Iraq, and the fact is we need to get this decision made and we need to get help to those 68,000 that are over there, and more of them are in harm's way the longer we delay," he said.
Jones, a retired four-star general, said on Sunday that he took "exception" to McCain's suggestion that politics were influencing Obama's decision-making.
"I can assure you that the president of the United States is not playing to any political base. I take exception to that remark," he said.
McCain, seeking to clarify his earlier remarks on Monday, told FOX Business Network that he was trying to express "sympathy for the president because the left of his political base is very much opposed to additional troops in Afghanistan."
"I believe that the President will do the right thing, which is to send the additional troops. And not just General McChrystal, but General (David) Petraeus and Admiral (Mike) Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs -- the people that were right about the surge in Iraq. The ones who said that it would succeed," he said.
FOX Business Network's Bruce Becker contributed to this report.