Sunday, November 19, 2006

McCain says more troops needed in Iraq

WASHINGTON - Without additional troops to ensure victory in Iraq, the U.S. could find itself more vulnerable to terrorist attacks at home, Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) said Sunday.

Taking the opposite tack, newly empowered Democrats pressed their case for a phased withdrawal of American forces. They hoped a blue-ribbon advisory panel would propose a way ahead for Iraq, while making clear the U.S. military mission shouldn't last indefinitely.

McCain, a front-running GOP presidential hopeful for 2008, said the U.S. must send an overwhelming number of troops to stabilize Iraq or face more attacks — in the region and possibly on American soil.

"I believe the consequences of failure are catastrophic," said McCain, R-Ariz. "It will spread to the region. You will see Iran more emboldened. Eventually, you could see Iran pose a greater threat to the state of

With about 141,000 U.S. troops in Iraq more than 3 1/2 years into the war, the American military has strained to provide enough forces while allowing for adequate rest and retraining between deployments.

But McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war after his Navy plane was shot down in 1967, recalled the Vietnam War's lessons. "We left Vietnam. It was over. We just had to heal the wounds of war," he said. "We leave this place, chaos in the region, and they'll follow us home. So there's a great deal more at stake here in this conflict, in my view, a lot more."

McCain said he based his judgment partly on the writings of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida leader in Iraq who was killed in a U.S. air raid, and of
Osama bin Laden.

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