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. PikeRover

    McCain and Graham sound like the just lost money in the "Military Industrial Complex" stock market. Or maybe they told their weapon maker donors they could get a war "done".

    September 14, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. vs101

    The right wing nut jobs are on cloud 9 with McCain, Graham, Paul, and the T party gang are all having orgasms of outrage using a smorgasbord of rant options. They can express outrage that Obama has shown weakness by not taking action, at the same time express outrage at him because he is keeping the option of a strike on Syria open. Outrage if Russia doesn't follow through, outrage if they do follow through, outrage that Obama is not supporting the Syrian rebels enough, outrage that his arms assistance may be used by the Islamist faction. Life can't get better for the rage machine with characters like Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, et. al., working the crowd to an ever increasing frenzy.

    September 14, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Poorolrich

    War mongers, the both of them!!

    September 14, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  4. flash g

    Obama is a coward and should have struck from get go

    September 14, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  5. Steve

    It's messed up. McCain and Grahm can't find anything positive no matter what the President does. But do you see them providing details of how to deal with Syria or Russia? NO. They just want to play politics with this. We need to throw them out of office. They are nothing but obstructionist. They got lots to say about how the President is handling everything wrong but they do not tell us what they would do. Looks to me like the President is doing well and posturing the US well in this. Who can argue with the options the President has? Syria now has to give up its Chemical Weapons. The international community and its Russian ally are insisting on it. If Syria does not, it leave the door open for military action. I don't see how this is a losing situation for our President or Russia's. Putin is not a nice guy but he does not want us invading Syria and setting up military bases on his door step.

    September 14, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. Smart Guy

    If Obama had this strategy all along then his is a diplomatic genius.

    September 14, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. Larry Griffin

    "morally and strategically indefensible." to remove chemical weapon from a battle zone, really.This not the first time the Republicans have dealt with WMD, maybe they want to spend lives and money to bat 500.

    September 14, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  8. Grampa

    Awwww, poor John McCain. First he doesn't get to dump Sarah Palin on us as VP, then he misses out on another fun war in the Middle East. Times sure are tough for an aging war monger.

    September 14, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  9. mickeygib

    Why do the media give these war-mongers the podium from which to spew their hate? Are there no senators who hold opposing points of view that CNN and others could seek out ? Are the media just looking for controversy ? Voices of reason from those opposed to war would be nice. Perhaps they should be invited to the media's podium.

    September 14, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  10. Mike Texoma

    Assad has to inventory the weapons next week and turn the inventory over. UN inspectors have to eyeball everything by November 1st. Al of the weapons have to be destroyed next year. Assad balks, UN sanctions. Assad defrauds us, we strike. McCain and Graham are full of crap as a Christmas turkey.

    September 14, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  11. Don

    Ask Obama what is the US doing in bed with the two devils Putin and Assad these two are cut from the same cloth. Both are lying deceiving thugs.

    September 14, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. Michael Locklin

    How soon can we get rid of these two warmongers.

    September 14, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  13. harley davidson

    Let me get this straight:

    These guys blasted Obama for not bombing Syria.
    Obama said he will strike Syria.
    These guys blasted Obama for wanting to strike Syria without congressional approval.
    Obama said he will seek congressional approval.
    These guys blasted Obama for wanting to strike Syria.
    Russia said to try diplomacy – they'll help.
    These guys blasted Obama for being a wuss, and talking with Russia.
    A diplomatic, non-military solution has been planned.
    These guys are blasting Obama for not bombing Syria.

    Jeez, do you think it's time to completely clean house on Capitol Hill? We can replace them all in six years' time...

    September 14, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. Woman In California

    McCain and Graham – together again. One longs to be president and the other present. Neither of which could advise a monkey where to scratch and relieve its pains and yet, for some unknown reason, we're forced to listen to their overactive tantrums constantly. How did the people of Arizona and South Carolina make such a big mistake?

    September 14, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. Matt

    Yee-ha it's rooten tooten Vladimir Putin...

    September 14, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  16. Jo

    Just curious, but are all conservatives looking like crabby old men right now? As a moderately conservative woman, I'm celebrating that diplomacy is winning over rather than hawkish behavior.

    September 14, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. Hawk in texas

    These two are all ways wanting to blast something or other.

    September 14, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. vidal808

    Thanks God or good common sense. The administration is not going to war? The war mongers lost this time around, what a blessing! We don't need another war in the Middle East! Enough already Maccain and Graham.... We can not afford one and we "the people" don't want one! Get it?

    September 14, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. Sol

    They are both too beholden to General Dynamics

    September 14, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  20. NameTimothy

    I wish I could rip these two a new ass, these two cause more problems than two year old kids

    September 14, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  21. Delusional

    strap them two on F16 and shoot them into Syria's direction.

    September 14, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  22. Black Dynamite

    These two are trying to get a war started, and anyone that stands in their way is an enemy.
    BD

    September 14, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  23. billmosby

    A "blind alley" is a good way to describe the path advocated by McCain and Graham. They should heed the lesson of Iraq- don't get rid of a dictator who is keeping a lot of unsavory characters occupied and in check. It's useless to care about the fates of people whose cultures don't care about them. Unless we want to engage in 10 or 20 years of nation building like we did after WW II, for 5 or 6 really dysfunctional societies. Anybody up for that heavy a lift?

    September 14, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. Bill Davis

    Just when you think McCain is reasonable the crazy comes out again...

    September 14, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  25. Rico

    Shocking!

    September 14, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
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