September 8th, 2012
07:45 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain calls out Obama over Syria, again

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain, a consistent critic of U.S. inaction regarding the civil war in Syria, on Saturday again blasted the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in an interview with CNN.

He was speaking at the Ambrosetti Forum in Italy, an annual conference bringing together political leaders from around the globe.

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McCain did not advocate sending U.S. troops into the battles, but said he supported the U.S. using a model similar to the way the United States handled an uprising in Libya in 2011. "Get them arms and weapons so it is a fair fight," he said.

"First, voice your moral support the way Ronald Reagan did for the people behind the iron curtain," McCain said in an interview with CNN's Nina Dos Santos. "Second get them the weapons so it's a fair fight. Third establish a sanctuary or free zone where they can organize.”

McCain criticized the line in the sand drawn by Obama as giving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad too much leeway.

"This president unbelievably announced that if Bashar (al-)Assad used chemical weapons, he'd have crossed a red line," McCain said. "Isn't he also telling Bashar (al-)Assad he can do anything up to that?"

He has previously called Obama's handling of the situation "shameful."

Among the other Americans attending the forum were Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina; Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut; Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, as well as several academics from schools including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Syria
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Tina

    What is with the repubs anyway? I feel for the people of Syria, but why do we always have to be involved? I am so tired of being involved in other people's fights. I am a military wife and I am tired. I just have this feeling that if we did give the people weapons it will turn out bad and then we will feel we have an obligation to go in and help and then we will have to nation build another person's country, blah, blah, blah, Have we not done enough of that already? I just feel we need to start to nation build this country again. I know this souds horrible but it is time we stay out of other people's affairs for once.

    September 8, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The idea of going into Syria while there isn't a clear concensus on it is risking more problems. McCain is too willing to jump in with the military. I think he has the idea that we can just shoot it and that would clear it up. He was a military man who doesn't always fully understand the need for diplomacy.

    September 8, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. Hotdog

    McCain is just sickening.

    September 8, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  4. Indy

    Mc Cain say's Blah ba blaw ba blaw ba blaw and it becomes news on a very slow day at CNN

    September 8, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  5. RealityInc

    President Obama ended one war that the Republicans started and is wrapping up the second, and John Mc Cain is wanting us to get invovled in yet another middle east conflict–go figure. Thank God President Obama beat him the first time or we would never get out of the middle east...

    September 8, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  6. Dave

    Republicans never met a war they didn't like! Keeps that great military industrial complex in business so that the military contractors can keep funding their election campaigns...."you scratch my back and we'll keep the US in some kind of war."

    September 8, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  7. Gregory

    The vast majority of Syria's vast army has not fired a shot in the civil war. Most of the killing is the work of the sectarian militants supported by Senator McCain, or the opposing Alawite, Christian, and Armenian etc. combatants struggling to serve what is or was a repressive pluralistic regime. The two go together, without repression, the default status is open civil war. As with many conflicts, the killing is at times perpetrated by sub-groups. To the Armenians and Alawites it is a war of survival, to the FSA a war of supremacy.

    September 8, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |


    September 8, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  9. ColoradoJoe

    again, this will be McCain's version of the vietnam war. Think Russia will sit by and watch that happen? How about the other countries allied with Syria? Didn't I hear in the past there is no safe way to get arms in like Liba? And that there is no isolated area to be used as a safe zone like in Liba?

    September 8, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  10. Mack

    Give it a rest McCain. We're already broke from 2 unpaid for wars.

    September 8, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  11. Discernment


    It was John McCain who falsely accused President Obama of "leading from behind" regarding U.S. military intervention in Libya during Spring-2011. Obama chose not to put "boots on the ground" as McCain strongly advocated, but instead Obama provided air support in conjunction with European, African, and Arab nations.

    Obama's strategy worked, Muammar Gaddafi was defeated, captured and eventually killed; and all without the lost of a single American life. Later, after a pestering from the media, McCain 'very grudgingly' acknowledged Obama's strategy as correct. Yet McCain now has the audacity of accusing President Obama of not using the Libyan strategy in Syria.

    McCain is a hypocrite without credibility. His best days are behind him and he needs to just ride off into the sun set.

    September 8, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  12. RGD

    No more dumb wars using our beloved American troops on the ground, let Syrian citizens take care of their own business and Assad will be toppled by the end of this year. Of course, we should and are doing non-lethal assistance behind the scenes to Syrian rebels like we did in Libya last year except for no fly zone for only few months which resulted with well-deserved death of Qadaffi thanks to Obama's specific exit strategy, less than 1 billion dollars cost and ZERO American lives were lost in that war.

    Iran is backing Assad and last thing we need is to start another war against a Middle East country by proxy especially one with nuclear weapons. Iranian citizens will overthrow their government eventually even if it may take few years at least as a final puzzle in Arab spring.

    War is nasty and deadly business and should be started only as last resort so warmongering is not what we need at this time. Unlike Bush & Cheney using Chinese credit card to the tune of 2 trillion dollars to start two dumb wars with inadequate number of ground troops in which 7,000 Americans paid dearly with their lives, all Obama did was to end Iraq war, ordered a mission to kill Bin Laden in Pakistan and will end Afghanistan war in 2014.

    Sorry, Senator McCain but I trust President Obama more than you and your military-industry complex lobbyists who are lining your pockets.

    September 8, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  13. kel

    Oh God, him again. Please go away McCain.

    September 9, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  14. Wise1Speak


    The above quote was made famous by Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg in 1947 and became an adopted practice by both political parties. It means not to air-out dirty laundry overseas despite our political differences back home. Just like a married couple would not fight in public at a formal ball; politicians should present unified-U.S. front when on foreign soil and not be seen fighting. Ronald Reagan (Republican) revived this same edict during his tenure a POTUS.

    However, since President Obama has taken office, the Republican-GOP has shredded this honorable principle. It makes you believe that the Republican-GOP truly do hate President Obama for them to break their own principle for which they created, cherished, and vowed to practice.

    September 9, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  15. yogi

    The obscene fascination of wars by Republicans. Enough is enough!

    September 9, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  16. Glenn from Cary

    Rick Perry? Seriously? The article says that this conference brings together "political leaders from around the world." Rick Perry? Seriously?

    September 9, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  17. Discernment


    After McCain made his statement and slandered President Obama regarding Syria, did anyone from the media asked McCain why he was breaking a long held edict of the Republican Party that declares "politics ends at the water's edge"?

    Did anybody ask? No!?! I didn't think so. 😦

    September 9, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    There is not a single nation in Europe or any of the Arab states willing to do any of what Mccain proposes in the main because Russia and China oppose it. QED he is wise enough to say no boots on the ground, as that would lead to a war agains Syria fought only by American and Americans but against indirectly iran, Russia and china who would be obliged to supply arms and help.
    Again he is not truthful. so far thier is no concrete evidence of Al Qaeda involvement in this conflict.
    He also ignores that the American people have no heart for another nation building war and more importantly that giving the very high level overt support he talks about would further excerbate terrorists against the US, wherever they are globally. He must not forget this is and will remain an islamic nation irrespective of the outcome of what is a civil war. finally we cannot afford even the limited war he is advocating because it would very quickly have to escalate, and I guarantee if we did what Mc Cain says Assad would use Chemical weapons as soon as a single US boot/ bomb or weapon set foot or was used in Syria against him.
    I'd like to see Assad deposed but not by US force of any kind.
    The Arab staes around Syria must take the lead for whatever they see as needed not the US or Europe. otherwise the Holy war and jihad gets out of control and iran will make a nuclear weapon.
    Mc cain knows this but itselection time and trying to score foreign policy points on the behalf of Romney. because he is more credible.
    By the way proposing a war strategy doesn not help defeat Assad it tells him what to plan against in his current strtegy... just the mistake they criticise Obama for re the withdrawal deadline in Afghanistan.

    September 9, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  19. blkpwr817

    The GOP is so in love with war but yet they neglect to even mention them at their convention. This is evidence of more of the same failed GWB foreign policy of wars without paying for them. Those days are over folks. Time to move FORWARD.......Obama 2012.

    September 9, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  20. DP

    I think McCain's Outlook must have pop'd up a message (that the GOP email'd him a few weeks back) to start criticizing Obama on a certain date. What a bunch of (GOP) jokers!

    September 9, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  21. theshadowsmoon

    Seriously, McCain? So now we really are required to babysit the entire planet? Man, I am so glad you did not get elected four years ago.

    September 9, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |

    Assad is going to die soon. No need for U.S. intervention.

    September 9, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  23. RandyKC

    McCain, so you criticise Obama for not doing enough in Syria? Not spending enough money to arm a country that vilifies America? For setting any limits to what the regime can or can't do. Well I guess I just don't understand the Republican mentality that got us into two needless wars. Some question war and say why. Republicans question war and say, why not.

    September 9, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  24. SafeJourney

    Good ol', lets go to war again, McCain. If McCain was elected, can you imagine how many more wars America would be fighting?

    September 9, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  25. Squigman

    Wow! Suit up (Big John). Come to the aide of your country, and show the great unwashed masses that war needs a friend. Yes, war needs a friend like you. You who keep those tax dollars, churning out swords as opposed to plow shears. Bombs and bullets, as opposed to butter and produce. We need you, oh warrior of old. Come back among us, and show us the way of our sins, where keeping one's nose out of another countries business is frowned upon. Suit up big guy, get in there and knock some sense into those who oppose your will of iron. And empty head to match.

    September 9, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
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