Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during an evening lecture Thursday at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. (Stephan Savoia / AP)
NEWPORT, R.I. — U.S. Sen. John McCain said Thursday that the military and political leaders who helped win the war in Iraq should be brought back to figure out how to deal with the resurgence of militants there.
Speaking at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, he named retired Army Gen. David Petraeus and former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker as two of his choices to lead the effort. He also said that he is not calling for sending more American troops into Iraq.
“This is one of the most serious crises that I can recall,” he said.
President Barack Obama is weighing a range of short-term military options to quell the al-Qaida-inspired insurgency, which has captured two Iraqi cities.
McCain, an Arizona Republican, spoke on the Senate floor Thursday morning about Iraq and said everyone on the national security team should be replaced, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who accompanied McCain to the college, said he disagrees. Suddenly disrupting the team, which is dealing with a number of other issues, may do more harm than good, added Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island.
McCain told the audience of about 1,000 people at the college that the nation cannot afford to be disengaged from the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine because it has the most to lose.
He said that the nation’s greatest leaders have rallied the U.S. to play the role in the world that only America can.
“That is what we need now more than ever,” he said.