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Key Excepts from McCain Opening Statement

From GOP presidential candidate and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain at the Petraeus/Crocker hearing this morning.

-"Should the United States instead choose to withdraw from Iraq before adequate security is established, we will exchange for this victory a defeat that is terrible and long lasting.  Al Qaeda in Iraq would proclaim victory and increase its efforts to provoke sectarian tensions, pushing for a full scale civil war that could descend into genocide and destabilize the Middle East.  Iraq would become a failed state that could become a haven for terrorists to train and plan their operations.  Iranian influence would increase substantially in Iraq and encourage other countries to seek accommodation with Tehran at the expense of our interests.  And American failure would almost certainly require us to return to Iraq or draw us into a wider and far costlier war."


-"We must press ahead against al Qaeda, the radical Shia militias and the Iranian-backed Special Groups.  We must continue to support the Sunni volunteers of the Iraqi Awakening as they stand up to al Qaeda in Iraq.  And we must continue to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces so they can play an ever stronger and more neutral role in suppressing violence.  This means rejecting, as we did in 2007, the calls for a reckless and irresponsible withdrawal of our forces at the moment when they are succeeding.  I do not want to keep our troops in Iraq a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests there.  Our goal – my goal – is an Iraq that no longer needs American troops.  And I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine.  But I also believe that to promise a withdrawal of our forces, regardless of the consequences, would constitute a failure of political and moral leadership. "

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