McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution
September 14th, 2013
05:10 PM ET
12 months ago

McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham continued their all-out verbal assault on the Obama administration's handling of the Syria crisis, disparaging Saturday's U.S.-Russian agreement as "morally and strategically indefensible."

"It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the start of a diplomatic blind alley," the senators said in a joint statement, "and the Obama administration is being led into it by Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin."


Calling the agreement "meaningless," the Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee lambasted the White House's latest attempt to walk the country back from the brink of a military confrontation with the Syrian government.

Russia and the United States announced Saturday that they have reached a groundbreaking deal on a framework to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

Syria must submit within one week a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons stockpile, Secretary of State John Kerry said, and international inspectors must be on the ground no later than November.

McCain, of Arizona, and South Carolina’s Graham criticized the pact as the latest use of rhetorical gymnastics by the Oval Office, an evolution that has seen President Barack Obama go from labeling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a "menace (that) must be confronted" to, in the words of McCain and Graham, "our negotiating partner."

"This agreement does nothing to resolve the real problem in Syria," the two said. "[Assad] can go on slaughtering innocent civilians and destabilizing the Middle East."

McCain and Graham have both advocated for a more muscular response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons on August 21, recommending the administration provide more weapons to moderate opposition groups.

In the statement, the senators reiterated that "significantly" increasing the United States' support to vetted opposition forces inside Syria is the only thing capable of turning the tides of the raging civil war and creating "real conditions for a negotiated end to the conflict."

For the longtime senators, Saturday's agreement is more evidence that the Obama administration is unwilling to do what's necessary to stop the al-Assad regime, and now has fully retreated from its previous position of stating the Syrian despot "must go."

"Assad will use the months and months afforded to him to delay and deceive the world using every trick in Saddam Hussein's playbook," McCain and Graham said.

The senators blasted the proposed accord, which would not explicitly threaten the use of force if the al-Assad regime failed to place its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control, as "an act of provocative weakness."

Beyond the agreement's impact for Syria, the Republican duo say the developments underscore the United States' waning influence abroad and the president's poor stewardship of national security interests. McCain and Graham say Obama's reluctance to lead a more robust response will further embolden Syria's neighbor, Iran, to continue flaunting U.S. warnings about its nuclear program.

"We cannot imagine a worse signal to send to Iran as it continues its push for a nuclear weapons," the statement read.

While McCain and Graham sharply rejected the framework agreement, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee weighed in favorably on the outcome of the talks between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, praising the accommodation as "significant progress."

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, disagreeing with McCain and Graham's assessment, said the pact is "enforceable" and that he believes it will achieve "an even better outcome than the goals of the authorization approved just a few days ago."

Levin also backed the administration's handling of the negotiations. Unlike the Republican chorus headlined by McCain, Graham and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Levin said the accord represents a strategic victory for the United States over their Russian and Syrian counterparts. Levin also insisted that the framework still leaves a military response on the table and that the Obama administration "remains prepared to act."

"Russia and Syria sought two things in any agreement: a promise on our part not to use military force, and an end to international support for the Syrian opposition," Levin said. "This agreement includes neither item."


Filed under: John Kerry • John McCain • Lindsey Graham • Obama administration • President Obama • Russia • Syria
soundoff (509 Responses)
  1. ne2indy

    I wish these two would just shut their blathering mouths. They like to stick a wrench in everything plus both are war mongers. Something this country does not need when diplomatic solutions available.

    September 14, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  2. julie

    Grandpa is acting out again with his miserable step son.

    September 14, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  3. sieben13

    two old war mongers, Thank God we have President Obama ,a level headed person and not these cowboy repuglicans

    September 14, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  4. CMD

    McCain is an unpredictable old geezer. I've had enough of his flip flopping and mouthing off.

    September 14, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  5. Floyd from Illinois

    I wish those two would occasionally at least ACT like declaring war is not the only option they ever heard of.

    September 14, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  6. lloyd roberts

    Syria moved a lot of it's chemical weapons to Iraq, why? Because people like McCain and the neocons took Saddam a, sunni dictator in a majority Shia country, out. Taking Saddam out put the Shia in charge of Iraq and Assad is a Shia Alawite. The whole Shia Sunni schism was exacerbated when Saddam was put down and the Shia gained control of Iraq and hooked up with their Iranian Shia brothers. Nothing McCain says or his still in the closet pal, Graham should be taken seriously. They are fools that led us down this path

    September 14, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  7. Corey Payne

    That's right guys, it is morally wrong to eliminate Syria's chemical weapon stockpile. If we made that deal then that would mean we wouldn't go to war, which, as we all know, is ridiculous and very Un-American. The right thing to do, and I'm with McCain and Graham on this, is to let Syria keep all their chemical weapons. That way we can have an excuse to join the war on the side of the Free Syrian Army. The rebels are supported by terrorist that want to kill all of us, but that's beside the point. Think about it: should the US stay out of the war or should we help the rebels and terrorist? Me, McCain, and Graham agree that the rebels and terrorist need our help. Let's send our kids over there right now! Who's with me?

    September 14, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  8. Corey Payne

    That's right guys, it is morally wrong to eliminate Syria's chemical weapon stockpile. If we made that deal then that would mean we wouldn't go to war, which, as we all know, is ridiculous and very Un-American. The right thing to do, and I'm with McCain and Graham on this, is to let Syria keep all their chemical weapons. That way we can have an excuse to join the war on the side of the Free Syrian Army. The rebels are supported by terrorist that want to kill all of us, but that's beside the point. Think about it: should the US stay out of the war or should we help the rebels and terrorist? Me, McCain, and Graham agree that the rebels and terrorist need our help. Let's send our kids over there right now! Who's with us?!!

    September 14, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  9. Frustrated

    Two bozo's who have lost touch with reality and the will of the American people.

    September 14, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  10. oneslydragon

    Of course the GOP rips the agreement. They rip anything Obama puts in play. Even when it there Idea, like having congress look at and vote on attacking Syria, then when they get what they want they decide o fight it.

    These are 3 year olds, that hate anything they can not control

    September 14, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  11. roro

    What is with these 2 idiots? They're like Siamese twins stuck together, each parroting the other. It's time for both of them to go. What do they want – another freakin' endless war? Would that make them happy? Can Obama ever do anything right? McCain needs to get over his loss, and act like a grown up, instead of a spoiled nasty brat.

    September 14, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Who cares what these two fossils think. They are usually wrong about everything that they go on and on about anyways, I'm surprised when something goes wrong they don't just say well what does John and Lindsey say, we should do the opposite. they always know the right thing to do, just ask them.
    they both just need to go away, people aren't buying it anymore. They thought they were going to get the President to go along with them and then they would have thrown him under the bus, when things didn't go the way they wanted. We are not going to Syria and get involved in a Civil war just because these two want us too, I respect John McCain for his service to his country, but as a senator he's really not very good at it. Syria is a lose lose proposition. The settlement the President ended up with, is the best thing that could have happened. There fight is none of our business, both sides think they have something worth fighting for or there wouldn't be a war. Let them fight it out, our guys are tired. 4 or 5 deployments, that's quite enough.

    September 14, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  13. Shadow

    McCain and Graham = Idiotic warmongers. Did they pull a Dick cheney and, overly, invest in Haliburton and the like assuming that they were going to war and now are mad they just lost money(And elections)? Somebody send McCain out to pasture. As for Graham...send him packing during his next election.

    September 14, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  14. TechLucy

    John McCain is the devil. He would love to create a war at every opportunity

    September 14, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  15. Cheryl Lopez

    John. I have always respected you! Lately, I feel sorry for you- Keeps me from disrespecting you!

    September 14, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  16. oneslydragon

    oh, also forgot, the GOP is the party of war, any excuse, go to war. The blame the other side for not being to severe or being too severe. Only matters what their need current is.

    Wish these guys would actually try to work for he good of he country for once.

    September 14, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  17. Concern for America

    McCain should be less concern about weather we are avoiding another pointless war through deplomacy in a part of the world where conflict amoung them self is a way of life and more concern in having his Republican Party address issues that voters care about here at home where it counts. Sarah Palin is the only reason he was not elected president.

    September 14, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  18. Bryan

    The country doesn't want to go war. Obama is not a king, he cant go against public opinion, just because McCain and Graham want doesn't mean the rest of US does.

    September 14, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  19. JC

    People can blast McCain all they want, but the old man has warned and been dead on about every aspect of this conflict. He's warned of every move by the Assad regime, the extremists, and Russia. When a guy has been right every day for two and a half yeas, don't you think there would come a time to listen?

    September 14, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  20. NotPoliticallySmart

    I am not as politicaly smart as others, however I did fight in the Operation Iraqi Freedom and I am currently in Afghanistan. Honestly, I don't think the deal is bad. This to me sounds like Iraq all over again, but with a better financed force, and quantifiable allies, that we know will aid, not just think they are. Also, if we bomb different sites in Syria aren't we declaring war by attacking. So how do we stop boots from being on ground there or any country that they attack because we attacked them. I see this as politicians doing what politicians do best, put money in there pockets and the pockets of there lobbyist. I am actually tired of fighting these wars in other countries, and as soon as we leave them, they go right back to what they have been doing for 1000's of years. Let's take care of home, stabilize our economy, raise taxes on companies, that move jobs overseas to make a profit in America, bring back the blue collar middle class manufactoring jobs, lower the wages of the politicians, raise the wages of Teachers and other community aid organizations. That's all.

    September 14, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. Mark

    These two must be apoplectic at the thought of nothing to blow up.

    September 14, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  22. NameLeeAT

    It is amazing how McCain and Grabam are turning a blind eye to the atrocities of the rebels. There is no win in Syria, it's like trading the devil for the witch.

    September 14, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  23. elucidated1

    I love it. Despite the angry rants from the right calling out Obama as being too aggressive and that we should stay out of Syria, now we have Graham and McCain complaining that we haven't gone far enough. Too bad those angry right wingers refuse to call out Graham and McCain as being too aggressive.

    September 14, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  24. Scott

    Warhawks. The world as we know it breaks my heart. Why does everyone have to hate everyone so much?

    September 14, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  25. asice

    Ridiculous that John McCain and Lindsey Graham continue to cast aspersions. Peace is the ultimate goal.

    September 14, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
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