September 3rd, 2013
10:16 AM ET
12 months ago

McCain, Graham issue tough warnings on Syria dilemma

(CNN) - Republican Sen. John McCain, who met with President Barack Obama on Monday, said the president would "seriously consider" sending weapons to the rebel forces in Syria on top of a military strike against the country's regime.

"That means providing them not only weapons but the kind of weapons they need: anti-armor and anti-air. AK-47s don't do very well against tanks, so we discussed that and that that would be a course of action that the president would seriously consider, I guess is the best way to describe it," the Arizona Republican said Tuesday on CNN's "New Day."

McCain and fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have been vocal proponents for a strategy that seeks to topple President Bashar al-Assad's regime, rather than take limited, punitive strikes against Syria.

Syria possible strike: Get up to speed in 20 questions

Graham, who also met with Obama on Monday, gave harsh criticism of the president's handling of the situation in Syria so far, including the Obama's decision to seek Congressional authorization for military action more than a week after chemical weapons were used in Syria. With Congress still in recess, a vote is not expected until next week.

"This is about the most mismanaged situation I've ever seen since World War II, when they were trying to control the Nazis. This is bizarre," Graham said in a separate interview on "New Day."

McCain underscored a sense of urgency, saying the delay in taking action will worsen the situation in Syria and further complicate a potential U.S. intervention.

"To think that the Syrians aren't making accommodations to the likelihood of a strike by moving their assets around, including military assets into civilian areas is foolishness. This kind of telegraphing punches could make our mission much more difficult and much more damaging to the civilian population. It's frankly crazy," he said.

While the administration announced this weekend it had positive results for traces of sarin used in Syria, some skeptics say it's best to wait until the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors release their results from samples gathered last week. Those results could take up to three weeks. Others point to varying intelligence gathered from the U.S., France and the United Kingdom.

But McCain argued "we need no further proof."

"I mean those bodies you saw stacked up with physical wounds, I mean, it's clear that the issue is chemical weapons. He's already used them, it's been proven," he said.

Military has concerns about Syria mission

It's now up to Congress to weigh in on whether the U.S. should take action, though the president has said he maintains the right to act unilaterally. So far, most lawmakers indicate they're undecided on the issue and many are waiting to hear what the administration says in congressional hearings and more classified briefings this week.

How will they vote? House of Representatives | Senate

Graham said he hopes Congress will get behind the idea of a military campaign and weapons upgrade for the rebels, otherwise, he said, "the worst is yet to come."

"This vote is going to be too close to call right now, and if we lost this vote, oh my God, I can only imagine how it would make us look throughout the world. But if we have a weak response, that's just as bad. So the president needs to up his game," he said.


Filed under: John McCain • Lindsey Graham • Syria
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    ST

    @ Rudy NYC
    You mentioned that Assad regime lack of investigating of who used the chemicals is laughable.
    Are you really serious of what you are writing Dear Rudy?
    Where and how on earth a government sees such an action done to its people and continue to be quiet? Do you think it can happen here or somewhere else? Even in Somalia where they do not have a proper govt. can't swallow such an action. Please let us argue basing on thinking, BUT not for the sake of arguing only
    ---------------------
    No, Steveo, the one who forgets what he writes, which only means that he makes it up as he goes along, Steveo....what;s laughable is your assertion that Assad's failure to self-investigate is proof positive of the Assad regime's guilt. You mentioned it first ST......or have you apparently forgotten? You're no longer even laughable, anymore.

    September 3, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. alf564

    McCain and Graham and Pelosi are idiots so it they want to attack Syrai let them do it...take a C46, load them in it and
    fly them away...maybe they can pick up obama and schumer on the way.
    This is sheer lunacy...Syria never did anything to the USA so what is wrong with these STUPID people??? McCain
    lost the election...he should go home and TRY to protect Arizona

    September 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Mel

    Excuse me for being cynical but since when has Obama shown any inclination to confer with Congress about anything? Lately, the Emperor has been ruling by executive order. As late as Friday afternoon Secretary of State Kerry was making a forceful case for an immediate strike against Syria and then all of a sudden Obama says no, I must consult with Congress. Obama is lucky Kerry did not resign immediately because Obama made Kerry look like a fool. Our adversaries are watching us and we are not looking too good right now.

    September 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. just saying

    Sniffit
    -–
    "the President's minions will say "congress told him to", when nothing could be further from the truth. Congress "authorized him to"... BUT the decision is HIS and HIS ALONE."
    --
    Nope. He could do certain things unilaterally under the War Powers Act, but if he seeks Congressional authorization, they ALL share the blame, just like they ALL shared the blame for Iraq. If, for example, like Iraq, it somehow came to be that the chemical weapons attack was misinformation, then that might absolve some of the congresscritters who relied on the truth of that claim (like some did with respect to "Iraq has WMDs!!!"), but otherwise, they can all stew in it together. But that's not likely. This isn't a hunt for imaginary WMDs, but a response to verifiable claims that they were actually used. In that absence of it all turning out to be premised on a lie, they ALL share the blame. If it turns out nicely, you'll no doubt be trying to spread the credit tho, eh?
    -----

    right.... just like obama shared all the credit with the people that worked for a decade to hunt down and kill bin laden?!

    obama is a lying deceitful snake that would throw his own mother under the bus to save political face. the republicans should not allow themselves be used by this political hack. they should all vote present, just as obama has done for two years in syria.

    and my how your lies have changed recently.... for years you have blamed iraq on george bush and the republicans when they was broad democrat support for both the iraq and afghanistan war. a republican controlled congress is the blame for everything now, yet a completely democrat controlled congress that allowed the 2008 collapse is not to balme for anything. the dishonesty in your posts literally drips down the screen.

    September 3, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. vr45

    It is always good to unit the base. In the middle of war POTUS can not handle a divided house and enemy at the same time.
    Though the decision to consult & get approval is a bit late it is thousand time better then going alone.

    September 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Pandamonius

    The country paid a high price for Bush's failure and warmongering, and the GOP's obstructionism. We don't need another war, especially with the GOP foaming at the mouth about all the money they are going to pull in from no bid defense and oil contracts.

    Obama needs to be the man we (that is...the majority of Americans) elected, and avoid any further entanglements in the Middle East.

    September 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    truth hurts wrote:

    Yes, it is very, very comforting to know we have a political hack and game player in the White House leading this country from behind while endangering the lives of our military, all for political chicanery. ... ... ...
    -------------------–
    That's an extraordinary conclusion that you've reached. I'm referring to the part where the White House is "endangering the lives ofour military" by not sending them into an undeclared war. Extraordinarily remarkable. It doesn't make any sense out here in the real world of the "not so rich and not so famous" ordinary people.

    September 3, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "wendel
    the president was smart to involve congress. Not because he is afraid. This way if congress does not go along they will be the ones looking bad. Good move Mr president
    --

    Yes, it is very, very comforting to know we have a political hack and game player in the White House leading this country from behind while endangering the lives of our military, all for political chicanery. Obama is a very dangerous person and should never have been elected, let alone re-elected. The country has already paid an enormous cost for his economic failure and now all of his foreign policy blunders are coming home to roost."
    -

    Yawn. You would have been frothing at the mouth and screeching about tyranny and Obama The Despot if he had acted unilaterally under the War Powers Act. Your criticism is ever based on nothing but convenience and expedience.

    September 3, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "the President's minions will say "congress told him to", when nothing could be further from the truth. Congress "authorized him to"... BUT the decision is HIS and HIS ALONE."

    BTW, I didn't see you making that argument when Obama made the decision to send in Seal Team 6, which most certainly was his decision and HIS ALONE. No no...there was a desperate attempt from you RWNJs, all over these comment boards and through your propaganda machines like Faux and Limbaugh, to give all the credit to Dubya instead. Pathetic that now, when you have some polling that indicates this might not be all that popular and you see a chance to make hay, you suddenly want Obama to get all the "credit" for your pessimistic prophesies of impending disaster...prophesies designed solely to increase the unpopularity of this in hopes it helps increase the damage you're trying to do. YAWN!

    September 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. ionblue

    I can't see how the President can honestly be considering aiding the rebels. They're partially Al Qaeda for christ's sake!

    I do understand the importance of action against any government stupid enough to use chemical weapons against their own people, but at what cost? And I'm not talking money here...

    September 3, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Ah, yes. The old man who cried wolf. Again.

    I really do hope Arizona finally retires McCain in 2016. He has lost all credibility and is quite content to sit back and stir up the world's hand wringers and teeth gnashers over his bedtime bogyman stories. Well ... Americans too, for that matter.

    September 3, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    ST

    @ Rudy NYC
    You mentioned that Assad regime lack of investigating of who used the chemicals is laughable.
    Are you really serious of what you are writing Dear Rudy?
    Where and how on earth a government sees such an action done to its people and continue to be quiet? Do you think it can happen here or somewhere else? Even in Somalia where they do not have a proper govt. can't swallow such an action. Please let us argue basing on thinking, BUT not for the sake of arguing only
    -------
    No, Steveo, the one who forgets what he writes, which only means that he makes it up as he goes along, Steveo....what;s laughable is your assertion that Assad's failure to self-investigate is proof positive of the Assad regime's guilt. You mentioned it first ST......or have you apparently forgotten? You're no longer even laughable, anymore.
    --------
    Hey Rudy... ST is not Steveo. ST is a left leaning poster who's usually in agreement with you... but it appears he's beginning to read through the spin and misinformation you manufacture as well as a lot of others here.

    September 3, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    If it turns out nicely, you'll no doubt be trying to spread the credit tho, eh?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yes right after she cuts out her tongue to do so.

    September 3, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "for years you have blamed iraq on george bush and the republicans when they was broad democrat support for both the iraq and afghanistan war. a republican controlled congress is the blame for everything now, yet a completely democrat controlled congress that allowed the 2008 collapse is not to balme for anything. the dishonesty in your posts literally drips down the screen."

    1. Dubya's administration told everyone that Iraq had WMDs and that it was ever so important to invade because he might give them to terrorists. That convinced people to vote for it. It was later discovered to be all be delusions and lies and imaginary WMDs that never were discovered. If you don't understand the difference between that an verifiable proof that WMDs have actually been used in Syria...thereby getting us past that pesky "imaginary" thing Dubya had so much trouble with...then you're either deliberately ignoring it because you recognize it's not convenient for you OR you're just too dumb to pick up on the nuance.

    2. How cute. You think the recession all took place in 2008 and could've been stopped by Congress, regardless who was in control, with just a couple quick votes on this or that legislation despite the house of cards Wall Street had already built using under-insured mortgage backed securities, their derivatives and credit default swap hot potato games? The recession was caused by long-standing systemic problems in the housing and financial industries and it was going to happen no matter what by the time the Dems took Congress. Chronology and underlying causes matter...not your superficial equating correlation with causation.

    2.

    September 3, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. George Bush

    Romney supported attacking Syria way back in the Presidential debates... Romney would have had us in a major war by now.

    September 3, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    " a republican controlled congress is the blame for everything now,"

    3. Name me three things the GOP/Teatroll House has enacted since 2010 that were specifically designed to get the economy back on its feet. And no, "tax cuts for the wealthy that would trigger magic economic growth and job creation when they expand their businesses for no reason whatsoever, seeing as how demand is in the toilet and tax cuts for the wealthy don't change that, blah blah trickle down fairy tales dreamland!"...that doesn't count. Name them.

    September 3, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda Minnesota
    He ( McCain) has lost all credibility and is quite content to sit back and stir up the world's hand wringers and teeth gnashers over his bedtime bogyman stories
    -------------------------------------------------
    True, true.
    Speaking of stories, your tale of the vacation that never was had me rolling in the aisle!! Lol!
    Glad you're with us babe.
    It's getting hot in here!

    September 3, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sniffit's exquisitely detailed response to Fair is Fair ending with:
    "Chronology and underlying causes matter...not your superficial equating correlation with causation".
    -------------------------------------------------
    BAM!!!!
    And down goes Frazier!!!

    September 3, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    just saying wrote:

    right.... just like obama shared all the credit with the people that worked for a decade to hunt down and kill bin laden?!

    obama is a lying deceitful snake that would throw his own mother under the bus to save political face. the republicans should not allow themselves be used by this political hack. they should all vote present, just as obama has done for two years in syria.
    ---------------------–
    Your rant would have some credible merit were it not for the fact that the right wing members of Congress have been calling for and demanding a vote.....and so Pres. Obama has called thier bluff. They never suspected that he would want an actual vote. They had always believed that he would act unilaterally under the War Powers Act, just like what was done in Libya.

    Now, the really interesting part is going to play itself out.....a vote in the House. How will those members that demanded a vote before any action is taken actually vote? Voting records are very important to Republicans, and so far the Grand Limbaugh has not clearly indicated how he feels that they should vote. Apparently, he's stumped on what to do, too. Reopublicans have talked themselves into another no-win scenario on a looming House vote. [...that takes talent and the cake...]

    But, the best part will be *after* the vote is taken. If it fails, then Pres. Obama is not authorized to take military action against Syria outside of that allowed by the War Powers Act....which Republicans cannot allow to come to pass no matter what. If it passes, then Pres.Obama is authorized to do as he pleases within the letters of the authorization.....which the arrogant of mind will feel is a mandate and order for the President to strike Syria, just so that they can bleme him for troubles that are sure to come. The wiser, establishment Republicans will also pretend the authorization is a declaration of war, and make fools of themselves in the process.

    No, my friend. The only deceptions being played out in DC are originating from the right, and they are pretty sophmoric deceptions at that. "Silly Republicans. Tricks are for kids."

    September 3, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sniffit
    Many of your posts should be framed as they are verbal works of art.
    You're the reason for the season today my friend....
    Proceed.

    September 3, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Hey Rudy... ST is not Steveo. ST is a left leaning poster who's usually in agreement with you... but it appears he's beginning to read through the spin and misinformation you manufacture as well as a lot of others here.
    ------------------
    That's also a good description of Steveo. Some libertarian views are shared by liberals. Unfortunately, ST makes the same arguments against his own stances, as if he/she has forgotten completely about what they originally and preveiously have writtene.....which is exactly what Steveo always does.

    September 3, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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