McCain: Israel would suffer in Iraq pullout

A premature withdrawal from Iraq would endanger Israel, John McCain said.

“I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values,” the Arizona senator and putative Republican presidential nominee said Wednesday in a major foreign policy speech. Iran, which backs Shi’ite hegemonic aspirations in Iraq, would “view our premature withdrawal as a victory and the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country of nuclear ambitions and state of desire to destroy the state of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly.”

Top Israeli officials have also said that a hasty U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would endanger Israel. Both Democratic candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), have called for phased withdrawals from Iraq.

The overall theme of McCain’s address was that foreign policy today means having an alliance of democracies – an implied rebuke of President Bush, who has been accused by critics of ignoring natural U.S. allies during the Iraq war.

He repeatedly cited Israel as a natural ally in a coalition of democracies. “Today we are not alone,” he said. “There is a collective powerful voice of the European Union, and there are the great nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to just name a few of the leading democracies.”

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