McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution
September 14th, 2013
05:10 PM ET
10 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. here and back again

    Any avenue that delays the use of military force will be blasted by the GOP...and any avenue that involves the use of military force will be blasted by the GOP.

    September 14, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. Greg

    It's hard to imagine how McCain and Graham can't see the good in this! It's what the American people WANT. Does that matter to them at all? Remember all the criticism and pushback Obama was getting when it appeared he was going to launch the missile attack?
    What if this ends up to be the ultimate show of Diplomacy at its finest? I personally love the idea that Obama is showing an open mind and respect for the international community. They have A LOT....A LOT of incentive to ensure this thing works.
    They're worried about the message this sends to Iran in its nuclear weapons pursuits? In my mind it shows America is willing to solve issues diplomatically which is more than we can say for Bush and his "You're with us or against us mentality". I'm convinced that we have a much better chance of getting through issues like this and surviving than rushing off to war as McCain and Graham want to do. I think they were just all pumped up and couldn't wait for those missiles to fly and didn't care one iota what Russia's response could have been. Is there any doubt that if we ever had a military confrontation with Russia, the world has got a HUGE problem on their hands?

    September 14, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. M'lynn

    Those two never met a war they didn't want....idiots

    September 14, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  4. stephen48739

    Senators McCain and Graham must be so frustrated that the United States is not going to war against Syria. War mongers.

    September 14, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. pourmonamiJC

    Obama is a pragmatic. War is never the right answer and anyways the US just don't have the money to start a new war let alone one that has the potential to degenerate in ww III. Better choose a few bruised egos on power trips. Smart move Mr. President.

    September 14, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. edward

    get these warmongers out of washington

    September 14, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Maybe if the GOP got rid of the disfunctional teaparty now called libertarians and supported the vote for military action by the president you wouldn't be standing there talking and bad mouthing the president. The. GOP is good for nothing and needs to get kicked out in 2014 midterms!!!!

    September 14, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. Mike Trottier

    Screw McCain,.....all he wants to do is kill people,.....that man is sick

    September 14, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. Michael Danahy

    MePslin and Miss Lindsay – shut up!

    September 14, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. Mona

    OMG! Won't these 2 people just shut the hell up??? Mc Cain is a war-monger....all he wants is "boots on the ground"
    anywhere he can get them, he just doesn't care what the situation might be. If we can get Syria's chemical weapons
    without shooting anything it will be great. They shoot things down before they're even given a chance. I do hope Arizonians get a clue & boot Mc Cain's ass out of office......the sooner the better!!!!

    September 14, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  11. Doug Bo

    Neither McCain or Graham have any track record of success in their foreign policy positions, thus, neither are credible. In fact their foreign policy track records are riddled with failure and wrong positions, starting with McCains decision to have his daddy get him a position as a pilot way back in the day.

    September 14, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. Bob

    MCcain would bomb the entire planet if he could! Thankful he's not President.

    September 14, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  13. Steve S

    Look at those two sour puss faces, will ya?
    You'd almost think they owned stock in Halliburton?

    September 14, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  14. ed gruel

    Interesting how the old man and his faithful puppet are unwilling to consider, or accept any solution that does not pose the threat to further sink this nation into a repeat performance of Viet Nam. McCain at least can be excused for his years.

    September 14, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  15. rs

    Poor, poor Republicans- caught in the inevitable "why waste a perfectly good war" ethos. Doubly funny in that last week they were falling all over themselves to call Obama the warmonger.

    This is what happens when your party becomes post-policy- just anti-American.

    September 14, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  16. Mark Jackson Healthcare

    John – you're making me exhausted. Why don't you retire to Keating acres.

    September 14, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  17. strapper

    The two cry baby right wing loses are never happy.How about you suggest a better idea.
    McSame send your son if you want WW3. AH

    September 14, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. apragmitist

    now that obama will not strike for now watch for a bunch of house repubs. to be against the deal and call for force to b used. it could be 10pm in washington and dark. if obama said it's dark the republicans would disagree and say it is light outside.

    September 14, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Loveitorleaveit

    Damn McCain, if you'r so hellbent on starting another war why not pay for it all out of your own richer pocket and drop into the war zone yourself and try to Rambo it all out, war mongering idiot. I wonder how many contracts he'll lose out on if he can't get a fight started....

    September 14, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  20. a

    "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."...........
    Great idea Senators.. as usual, regressives are short on solutions. Long on whining.

    September 14, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  21. Fred Willis

    Go after the jerks in your own party if you don't like this deal. This is the only option the Administration had
    short of risking Obama's impeachment.

    September 14, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  22. Mr. J

    The country is not ready for another military incursion. Obama knows it and worked out a plan to avoid it. If it doesn't work, a military response is still available. And a military could gain public if the administration can prove that it tried to avoid it.

    Political Science 101

    September 14, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  23. Mr. J

    a military *response*

    September 14, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  24. Exit 36-B

    What color is the sky in Carl Levin's world?

    September 14, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  25. taffd

    this is the time for both of them to just shut the hell up.If they're so set on American blood flowing, then they can start by heading over to Syria and joining the rebels.As for the rest of America, we've just damn had it!! We're throwing all of our money, resources, time , energy, and young lives at a sandpit that doesn't want us there anyway.

    September 14, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
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