McCain: 'There is real risk' in pulling all troops out of Iraq

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- Just hours after the war in Iraq officially ended, Arizona Sen. John McCain was on the phone with 3TV's Javier Soto to explain why he opposes pulling all U.S. troops out of the country.

"I wanted a residual force there as we had envisioned ... because there are definite security needs that the Iraqis have," McCain explained. "Iraq is unstable. there is a real risk of losing all the gains that we sacrificed 4,474 young American lives for. It's all political.

"In the view of every military leader I know -- every military leader -- [pulling out] increases dramatically the risk of a failure in Iraq."

McCain, who is the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also talked about increasing concerns about a relationship between Iraq and Iran.

"There is a vacuum [in Iraq] that the Iranians are rapidly filling," he said.

McCain went to say that the he believes the war in Iraq was "very badly mishandled for several years."

The senator is apprehensive about what the future holds.

"I hope that I'm wrong, but I think that there's every chance that there could be very, very serious problems in Iraq," he said. "I hope ... that the expenditure of lives and time and the sacrifice that has been made is not all for nothing because of a political decision by the president of the United States."

All remaining U.S. troops in Iraq will leave the country by the end of the month.