September 24th, 2009
10:06 PM ET

360 Interview: Senator John McCain

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Anderson Cooper: Senator McCain, many conservatives have blasted President Obama over the past two days at the U.N. Former U.N. Ambassador Bolton said of the president's message it was "extremely naive." Do you agree?

Senator McCain: Well I would like to hear the President mention that American blood and treasure was expended on behalf of Muslims and Operation Desert Storm, the same thing was in Kosovo, in Bosnia, and we have made sacrifices that we also hope will be recognized by the Arab world in particular and the entire world.

Anderson Cooper: Lets talk about Afghanistan. You support sending more troops. This counterinsurgency strategy, "Clear, Hold, and Build" clearly requires more troops. Anyone who goes there, we that ourselves two weeks ago on the ground in Helmand province with the Marines. Do we have the right strategy? In effect, there are a lot of people who say we are nation-building in Afghanistan with military personnel instead of civilians and on behalf of a government riddled with corruption.

Senator McCain: Well that's a big question, Anderson, and I'll try and make my answer short but I think what we are in engaged in is a counter-insurgency not counter-terrorism operational plan and once we make the areas secure then the people are able to make progress economically, politically, and every other way. But unless we do what we did in the surge in Iraq which is "Clear, Hold, and Secure" areas then it is very difficult to defeat an insurgency.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/04/mccain/art.mccain.speech.cnn.jpg caption="Former Presidential candidate and Senator John McCain."]

Anderson Cooper: But in terms of the shear number of troops that that would require...in Helmand alone, the Taliban have just moved into other areas where we don't have enough forces to go into to clear and hold and secure and or build.

Senator McCain: Well it is going to be difficult and it will require a significant injection of troops I hope in keeping with General McChrystal's assessment. But there's also an advantage we have here which is people don't want the Taliban back so if we offer them an alternative of a safe and secure environment I think it can be successful. It's going to be long and hard and tough just like the surge in Iraq was, but I have confidence in our leadership, in General McChrystal and General Petraeus, and in their strategy.

Filed under: 360° Interview
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Paula, Colorado

    Anderson–It sounds like an interesting interview, especially since you were in Afghanistan only a few weeks ago. I'm looking forward to the full interview later.

    September 24, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
  2. Scott Stodden

    I like Senator McCain because he does know what he's talkin about especially when it comes to forgein affairs such as Afghanistan

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    September 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  3. Michelle Johnson, Lomita, CA

    Anderson, I wish you would have more live interviews on AC360 since it's a live show. Other news and talk shows do it live. It's much more interesting to see a natural, spontaneous discussion; we see what both people really feel and think. This interview will be edited and polished by the network. Also, the taped interviews are too controlled and subdued. I just watch the clock to see how many minutes it takes away from the live hour. It would be better to see an entire live 360 hour, with the McCain interview at 11:00.

    September 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  4. Cindy

    Great interview questions so far Cooper. Right along the lines of what I would have liked you to ask McCain. Hopefully you got into the UN speeches and what not. Looking forward to seeing the full interview tonight.


    September 24, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  5. Diane N.

    I'm very interested in the rest of this interview. Kudos AC.

    September 24, 2009 at 6:19 pm |