On Friday's "Morning Joe," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) says the current situation in Iraq and Syria is an "existential threat" to the United States. McCain also gets testy with the co-hosts of the MSNBC morning program over whether the Iraq war was "won" before President Obama pulled out American troops in 2011. McCain claims the war was won and all Obama had to do is leave in "residual troops" to maintain the peace. Co-host Mika Brzezinski and Sam Stein of the Huffington Post challenged McCain's assertion, noting that if troops are needed, residual or otherwise, then the war was never really won.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): Well, the fact is that the president is now deciding saying that there's no option. I'm sure you saw the reports where two Iranian Quds Force, their elite battalions, have moved into Iraq. This has turned into one of the most serious threats to American security in recent history. There is now the Syria/Iraq area, the largest area ever of radical islamist extremism. They are moving back and forth between Syria and Iraq. Our failure to help the resistance in Iraq, our failure to give these people the help they needed when we could have gotten rid of Bashir Assad, those chickens are coming home to roost as well. So what does it mean to the American people? It means that we are now facing an existential threat to the security of the United States of America.
McCAIN: I think you are confused because you didn’t know what happened with the surge where we basically had the country pacified. We had a stable government in Baghdad, and we had the conflict basically — for all intents and purposes — won. We still got troops in Bosnia, a residual force would have stabilized the country. Most military experts will tell you that. So I’m sorry about your confusion, but the facts on the ground were that al Qaeda had been defeated almost completely and with the residual American force and at that time, a strong Iraq. Now, [Iraqi PM Nouri] al-Maliki is very weak. Maliki got worse after we left. And again, I knew this was going to happen, because we didn’t leave that force behind. And so I’m sorry about your confusion, but anybody who was there will tell you we had the conflict won.