McCain: Russia's Syria proposal 'has to be explored'
September 10th, 2013
09:30 AM ET
1 year ago

McCain: Russia's Syria proposal 'has to be explored'

Washington (CNN) – Sen. John McCain expressed exasperation with the White House's handling of Syria Tuesday morning while saying that a potential handover of chemical weapons needs to be considered.

The longtime senator from Arizona, a leading Republican voice in calls for military action against Syria, told CNN that he was extremely skeptical of the intentions of the government in Damascus to hand over or destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles, as well as Russia's intentions to facilitate such a move. But he didn't dismiss it out of hand.

"The fact is you that can't pass up this opportunity if it is one. But you've got to right away determine whether it's real or not," McCain told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day."

McCain said that there is a group of senators working on an amendment to the Senate bill seeking to authorize strikes that would allow for a handover. The amendment would allow "for this kind of action and requires guidelines, reporting process and benchmarks that have to be met," he said.

All told, the Arizona Republican was highly critical of how the Syria situation has been handled by the Obama administration. The White House has shown "a degree of incoherence that I have never seen the likes of," McCain said.

McCain raises impeachment – if boots hit ground in Syria

McCain pointed out Secretary of State John Kerry's statement that a strike would be "unbelievably small." "What does that mean?" McCain said.

The United States needs to show international leadership, McCain said. "If the President of the United States says there's a red line and then when the red line is crossed repeatedly and we don't act then there is no credibility," he said.

McCain said he understood Americans' trepidations with a strike against Syria because of the incoherence of administration efforts. He asserted that Syria is not another Iraq War, which he said was badly mishandled. McCain supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

CNN Poll: Part of Syria strike opposition is the messenger's fault

President Barack Obama's efforts to seek congressional approval of a strike against the military forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have stumbled in the last week.

A blitz of speeches, interviews and congressional testimony by senior officials have sought to make the case for deterring and degrading Syria's ability to carry out chemical weapons attacks like the one believed to have been launched against Syrian opposition forces and civilians last month. More than 1,400 people are believed to have died in the attack.

Petraeus backs Obama administration on Syria

The narrative of a U.S. strike turned on its head Monday when Kerry answered a question on how Syria might avert a strike by saying it could turn over its entire chemical weapons arsenal, an arsenal Assad has never admitted he has. Russia quickly jumped on Kerry's statement by proposing that Syria place all its chemical weapons under international control.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem accepted the proposal Tuesday, according to the Interfax news agency.

Obama will likely speak to all of these developments when he addresses the nation from the White House Tuesday night. He has already said the handover proposal is a "potentially positive development."

Obama: 'Breakthrough' is possible on Syria

For his part, McCain said he and the American people need to hear from the president that the opportunity for a handover will be explored. According to McCain, the feasibility of the handover could be determined very quickly, provided Syria accepts international monitors.

McCain has been extremely skeptical of Russia in the past, calling President Vladimir Putin an "old KGB colonel apparatchik."

McCain: Time to get tough with Putin

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee has been ever more vocal in his criticism of Assad and his support of the rebels seeking to oust him.

"I still support arming the Free Syrian Army," McCain said Tuesday. "I strongly support it, because I believe a negotiated settlement can only be achieved for the departure of Bashar Assad if the momentum has changed in this situation."


Filed under: John McCain • President Obama • Syria
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama: Because we all know that "naivete" and "disingenuity" do not look well on you.....

    LOL. Some might even term it ... flirtatious.

    Oh, well. Not my problem.

    September 10, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. bence

    My God, McCain you might miss a war. They will drink a lot of Budweiser A whole lot of them might get killed. You are very, very sorry why don't you go to the house and stay inside. Now you need to get very negative on this peace proposal. You are one sorry dude but I know what state you represent so I can understand

    September 10, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. GOP = Greed Over People

    First he wants to strike Syria, then no, it has been too long, then, impeach Pressident O if boots on the ground and now he wants to "explore"?

    This hawk's mentally, muddled musings is starting to confuse even me.

    What is to explore? Obviously, when President O and Putin met last wee, this was worked out and is a valid way to defuse the situation and stop the use of chemical weapons and if this is an example of "leading from behind", then count me in. It is called solving the problem with diplomacy, not by force.

    NOW, I know what McCrypt wants to explore, he needs a new ditty, "bomb, bomb Syria" does not work well to the Beach Boy's tune.

    September 10, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. Wake up People!

    @Dominican Mama.....
    (hands clapping loudly!)

    September 10, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. jag51

    John McCain is John McCain's worst enemy. This man continues to shout his mantra of war anytime someone sticks a microphone in front of him. I wish all the media outlets would just ignore him and not give him a platform to spew his battle cry. Go home Senator McCain. No one in America wants to enter into another military conflict. Please be quiet and let those who are involved in these critical negotiations to avoid a military conflict do their job.

    September 10, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. martyblueyes

    of course McCain is skeptical...he prefers war no doubt

    September 10, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Ed

    Putin and Assad are playing Obama, Congress and the world as a bunch of fools that will agree to anything (real or not) to save face and do nothing at this point. It is a sad day when Putin and Assad appear strong and the voice of reason while Obama and "allies" appear weak, totally confused and impotent. Time to face reality – Obama has been a disaster as a domestic and foreign affairs president. He is now giving Carter real competition as the worst U.S. president.

    September 10, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. kirk

    All I heard was blah blah blah,this guy is priceless, will someone please tell him to can it already. he is looking to make Obama look bad.I seriously don't think he needs your help on this one, where is that Nobel peace prize winner? Again this has little to nothing to do with caring about their citizenry, they won't help their own, but wants to save the poor Syrians, right?

    September 10, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. XYZ005

    McCain wants to hit Syria so bad, yet he can't help being partisan political – so that whatever the president does or plans he criticizes it. But the circumstances are changing so fast, and for the better, that all he can do is lash out with all kind of stupid issues and claims.

    September 10, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Tampa Tim

    I wonder if Fox will show the president's address, or show W's "Mission Accomplished" joke instead.

    September 10, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Silence DoGood

    @jag51 "This man continues to shout his mantra of war"

    Is this better or worse than a president that just bombs people? Just because Obama doesn't say the words, 1000's died anyway by his orders already. Are we all pretending that didn't happen in Libya and Pakistan?

    September 10, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. Ken

    International control of the weapons? Don't think that will be effective; however, Obama can save face with this option – and everybody is happy for a few months!

    September 10, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Breaking news Syria accepts proposal.

    September 10, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. w l jones

    The first time a problem accur a sane person get a lawyer while some other crash I have to go with a lawyer advice.

    September 10, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. tarlcabot

    “Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” – Herman Goering

    September 10, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Tampa Tim

    Syria accepts proposal. That is ls leadership from the White House. Sure beats 13 years of war and $2 trillion added to our national debt from 'cowboy diplomacy.'

    September 10, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Danny

    McCain is...................................................... INSANE.

    September 10, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Lynda and Wake up People!
    We gotta tag team each other!
    These folks can really wear you out!
    Lol!!

    September 10, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Jorge washinsen

    All military people are trained to be skeptical.normal action for McCain.

    September 10, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Linda

    Thank God McCain is not the President and he lost the 2008 elections.

    September 10, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    Dominican mama: Because we all know that "naivete" and "disingenuity" do not look well on you.....
    ------–
    Proving once again that sans personal attacks, you got nothing.

    September 10, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. TomGI

    "Sen. John McCain expressed exasperation..."

    He should chew a Tums

    September 10, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What is to explore? Obviously, when President O and Putin met last wee, this was worked out and is a valid way to defuse the situation and stop the use of chemical weapons and if this is an example of "leading from behind", then count me in. It is called solving the problem with diplomacy, not by force
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yeah "explore" from the same team that said that the time had come and gone and that the President wasn't moving on this fast enough.
    Count me in too GOP Greed Over People if this is leading from behind I'm behind THIS all the way!
    Stand tall, stay strong Mr. President and United States of America.

    September 10, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Proving once again that sans personal attacks, you got nothing.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Proving once again that you're better at conveniently "editing" other people's responses to you and verifiable fact than at posting anything worth reading.

    September 10, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    Nominee for Intellectual Pez Dispenser of the day:

    -Ed

    Putin and Assad are playing Obama, Congress and the world as a bunch of fools that will agree to anything (real or not) to save face and do nothing at this point. It is a sad day when Putin and Assad appear strong and the voice of reason while Obama and "allies" appear weak, totally confused and impotent. Time to face reality – Obama has been a disaster as a domestic and foreign affairs president. He is now giving Carter real competition as the worst U.S. president.
    ***********************************
    All the predictable, boring, hate-filled and vapid talking points combined into one paragraph. So, Putin appears strong: how? By backing up a second generation tyrant, and offering him a way out because he realizes the US is serious about hitting Syria? There is so much information that none of us are privy to, yet some feel compelled to use this moment to make yet another attempt at partisan bashing. Anyone remember the statement about partisanship ending at our shores? Mayeb the Right ought to practice a good old fashioned value and remember that.

    September 10, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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