Senator John McCain responds to President Obama's announcement that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by January:

“Today marks a harmful and sad setback for the United States in the world. I respectfully disagree with the President: this decision will be viewed as a strategic victory for our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime, which has worked relentlessly to ensure a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It is a consequential failure of both the Obama Administration -- which has been more focused on withdrawing from Iraq than succeeding in Iraq since it came into office -- as well as the Iraqi government.

“I share the desire for all of our troops to come home as quickly as possible. But all of our military commanders with whom I have spoken on my repeated visits to Iraq have told me that U.S. national security interests and the enduring needs of Iraq’s military required a continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2011 to safeguard the gains that we and our Iraqi partners have made. I am confident that no U.S. commander of any stature who has served in Iraq recommended the course of action that has now been taken.

“Nearly 4,500 Americans have given their lives for our mission in Iraq. Countless more have been wounded. Through their service and sacrifice, the possibility of a democratic state in the heart of the Middle East has been opened to millions of Iraqis. I fear that all of the gains made possible by these brave Americans in Iraq, at such grave cost, are now at risk.”

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