From CBS News' Andante Higgins
NEW YORK -- John McCain gave an address on Iraq and foreign affairs in Los Angeles today. He outlined similar policies that he's used in speeches on the campaign trail. As expected he said the US should stay the course in Iraq and work with allies around the world to help promote peace and freedom. He said Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn't understand the consequences of early withdrawal.
"I detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description," McCain said as he claimed progress in Iraq due to the troop surge he advocated.
McCain called himself a realistic idealist saying the United States had a responsibility not to walk away from Iraq. "We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal," he said.
McCain swiped indirectly at Obama and Clinton for not understanding the affects of premature withdrawal, "These consequences of our defeat would threaten us for years, and those who argue for it, as both Democratic candidates do, are arguing for a course that would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date."
McCain tried to distance himself from Bush's go it alone policy by suggesting the United States work with allies across the world by building an informal League of Democracies. "The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone," he said. "We must also lead by attracting others to our cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized society and by creating the new international institutions necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish."
While McCain could not give a timetable for America's military presence in Iraq or Afghanistan, he defined his view of success. "Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists," he said.
On other foreign affairs, McCain noted his concern about Iran and North Korea's nuclear proliferation. He said the US should also reduce it's arsenal. "We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal. The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of peace," he said.
McCain touched upon policy around the world pledging to eradicate malaria in Africa and calling for Russia to be removed from G8.
He said China US were not destined to be adversaries but China needed to become a more responsible super power by becoming more transparent about their military build up and by working with the world to isolate pariah states around the world.