As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Sen. John McCain has been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s anti-ISIS campaign, claiming the strategy is insufficient and failing. In the wake of the Paris attacks, McCain has been even more vocal about the need for greater U.S. involvement in Syria and recently announced a plan to achieve it: 10,000 U.S. combat troops to the region, and a U.S.-led coalition of Arab and European ground forces.
In an interview with Jorge Ramos, McCain said that deploying American troops to the region is the only way to defeat the Islamic State.
“I’m talking about five to ten thousand [troops], but it has to be part of an overall force that’s composed of other Arab nations with them composing the majority of it,” he told Ramos. “They pay for it, because it’s in their interest to defeat ISIS.”
Ramos asked McCain if his plan meant he is in favor going to war. “I thought there was no appetite in this country for starting another war?” Ramos asked.
“I think there was not until Paris,” the senator responded. “I think we are seeing a significant shift in American public opinion and Paris is just sort of the culmination.”
He said that ISIS has “alerted the majority of Americans that we need to take action.”
The Arizona senator reiterated that his plan didn’t entail sending hundreds of thousands of troops into the region, but it did include developing what he sees as a more concrete strategy, that could even involve the French in light of what happened in Paris.
“There is no strategy now, and that’s the thing that’s so aggravating to many of us,” he said.
Ramos turned the conversation to the 2016 elections and asked McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, whether Donald Trump is “bad news” for the party. Earlier this year Trump came under fire for suggesting McCain—a decorated Vietnam War veteran—was not a war hero because he was captured by the North Vietnamese. McCain recently criticized Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims, saying it hurts the U.S. fight against ISIS.
“I have given up trying to predict what’s going to happen,” he told Ramos. “I do know that what Mr. Trump has tapped into is a vein of dissatisfaction on the part of the American people.”
Watch the full interview below.