Description: Discussion #7 - Military
Candidate: Sen. McCain
Question: What is the your doctrine for use of force that the United States would send when we don't have national security issues at stake? ]
BROKAW: Senator McCain, the McCain Doctrine, if you will.
MCCAIN: Well, let me just follow up, my friends. If we had done what Senator Obama wanted done in Iraq, and that was set a date for withdrawal, which General Petraeus, our chief -- chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff said would be a very dangerous course to take for America, then we would have had a wider war, we would have been back, Iranian influence would have increased, al Qaeda would have re- established a base.
There was a lot at stake there, my friends. And I can tell you right now that Senator Obama would have brought our troops home in defeat. I'll bring them home with victory and with honor and that is a fundamental difference.
The United States of America, Tom, is the greatest force for good, as I said. And we must do whatever we can to prevent genocide, whatever we can to prevent these terrible calamities that we have said never again.
But it also has to be tempered with our ability to beneficially affect the situation. That requires a cool hand at the tiller. This requires a person who understands what our -- the limits of our capability are.
We went in to Somalia as a peacemaking organization, we ended up trying to be -- excuse me, as a peacekeeping organization, we ended up trying to be peacemakers and we ended up having to withdraw in humiliation.
In Lebanon, I stood up to President Reagan, my hero, and said, if we send Marines in there, how can we possibly beneficially affect this situation? And said we shouldn't. Unfortunately, almost 300 brave young Marines were killed.
So you have to temper your decisions with the ability to beneficially affect the situation and realize you're sending America's most precious asset, American blood, into harm's way. And, again, I know those situations.
I've been in them all my life. And I can tell you right now the security of your young men and women who are serving in the military are my first priority right after our nation's security.
And I may have to make those tough decisions. But I won't take them lightly. And I understand that we have to say never again to a Holocaust and never again to Rwanda. But we had also better be darn sure we don't leave and make the situation worse, thereby exacerbating our reputation and our ability to address crises in other parts of the world.
BROKAW: Senator McCain, thank you very much.