McCain discusses Middle East Tensions During Campus Talk

McCain describes his views on the war in Afghanistan, Israeli relations and the future of America. Photo by Taylor Sanger/The Minaret
Senator John McCain spoke to University of Tampa students about national and veteran affairs and the future of military on Tuesday.
He has over 40 years of government experience and spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He served in Vietnam where he was shot down and became a prisoner of war (POW) for five years. When he returned, McCain became a Naval Officer and after 22 years he retired and decided to run for Congress in 1982. In 1988 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He currently sits on several Senate committees and is senior member of armed service committee and the homeland security and governmental affairs.
McCain spoke to a crowded Reeves Theater filled with members of ROTC, veterans and the Tampa community; mostly on the natural affairs in the Middle East as well as promoted military services.
“In order to understand the events of recent days you have to understand that there’s a change sweeping across the world, not just across the Middle East but the world that is a tectonic and historic change and unless you view these events in this context there even more difficult to understand,” McCain said.
McCain talked about the “Innocence of Muslims” Youtube video that was released on July 2 which mocks the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The video has caused much outrage with both Americans and Muslims. Muslim radicals took the video and put it on their media networks.
“If someone wants to say something that we disagree with why should we say that these people are allowed to say what they believe and people should be big enough to know that in this world we want everyone to have fundamental rights and one of them is freedom of speech,” McCain said.
McCain believes that the Muslim radicals took the video out of context and used it to promote American hatred.
“It wasn’t a hateful video, it was a group of radical Muslims who will do anything to hurt the United States and everything we stand for and believe in. So we play into their hands when we say this is a hateful video. It wasn’t a hateful video. It was a vehicle that these people used. To blame it on the video, you’re blaming the messenger not the message.”McCain went on to talk about countries in the Middle East and their relationships to the United States. He described how the United States’ relationship with Egypt should be a priority.
“Egypt is the heart and soul of the Arab world. One out of every four Arabs lives in Egypt.  A historic and cultural center of the Arab world, so what happens in Egypt is very important and we should be very worried about what’s happening in Egypt,” McCain said.
McCain emphasized maintaining a strong relationship with Israel to keep watch on the nuclear weapons threat that Iran poses to Israel.
“We need a strong relationship with Israel against Iran and work with Israel by telling Iran that you can go to this point and no further and because we have not formed this relationship yet Iran does not think that we are serious,” McCain said.
The conversation moved to Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
“We may have won the war, but we lost the peace. They know we’re leaving.” McCain said, “We should evaluate where we are and if necessary say we’re not leaving yet. Get the situation under control. Victory is a stable Afghanistan and it’s easy to say ‘let’s get out’ but remember what might happen when we leave.”
He also went on to describe the recent attacks in Afghanistan and how one of our most secure bases was attacked.
“The most absolute worst thing is when you can’t trust your allies,” McCain said.
McCain said that the Taliban is recruiting men to join the Afghan military, where they are shooting and killing American soldiers and Marines. He explained that the object was to train Afghan soldiers to take over the responsibilities as Americans left.
“President Obama overruled his military advisors when they said that we need 40,000 troops instead of 30,000 and he overruled his advisors on accelerated departure from Afghanistan. He goes around telling people that we’ve withdrawn,” he said.
McCain wrapped up his talk with some positive statements on how he believes America is still a great nation before taking questions from the audience.
“What is America’s image in the world today? From what I told you, you can draw your own conclusion, but America’s history has always been of the exceptional nation. ” McCain said, “That does not mean that America goes everywhere. There’s some situations where we cannot do anything.”“America has a role in the world. Everywhere I’ve been in the world Americans have been appreciated and honored for their service and their assistance. I’m proud that our military is the best in the world.” McCain said, “I believe the military is the best it’s ever been, better equipped, better trained. We live in a dangerous world and we’re going to need the highest quality of men and women to serve and that means providing them with paying benefits they deserve. Honoring them where they should be honored also means giving them whatever they need more to win the fight.”

Mark Sugden can be reached at
Brandon Cales can be reached at


  1. Good article and great to see the UT was location chosen for Senator McCain’s speech. Interesting that there was no mention of the election in this article. Did McCain discuss the election in the context of world events?


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