McCain criticizes Afghanistan withdrawal date as 'political decision' by Obama

Sen. John McCain blasted President Barack Obama's stated goal of beginning troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011, saying Obama made a "political decision" not based on military strategy.

McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election, continued to criticize Obama's decision to include a timetable in his Afghanistan strategy, and he criticized military leaders who signed on to Obama's timetable strategy.

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"It was purely a political decision," McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Not one based on facts on the ground, not one based on military strategy."

McCain, ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, went further, saying that no military advisers proposed to Obama any strategy that included a timetable. But when host David Gregory noted that Obama's military leaders have endorsed the strategy, McCain faulted them for not opposing the commander in chief.

"They didn't do it, and they should have because they know better," McCain said.

McCain said the president needs "to just come out and say this is conditions-based and conditions-based only."

The White House has said repeatedly that July 2011 represents a start date for withdrawal, and that is not a total withdrawal date.

But McCain, echoing arguments against a timeline in Iraq, said that when "you tell the enemy you're leaving, they will wait."

"I'm against a timetable," McCain said. "In wars you declare when you're leaving after you've succeeded."

Still, McCain said Obama made the right decision in ousting Gen. Stanley McChrystal after McChrystal and his aides made inflammatory and insulting comments about administration officials in a Rolling Stone magazine article.

"He took the appropriate steps in my view," McCain said.

Though McCain said he understood the mentality of aides speaking out of turn while on a night off, he said "there's no excuse for it."

McCain joined other Republicans in praising Obama's replacement for McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus.

McCain called Petraeus "one of the greatest, outstanding leaders in American history."