McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution
September 14th, 2013
05:10 PM ET
11 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. T E X A S

    Boy do McCain and Graham look disappointed.

    September 14, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  2. rufus floyd

    We are now seeing just how nutty these two guys are.

    September 14, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  3. Andrey

    Who are these sad clowns?

    September 14, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. Lauri

    Senators McCain and Graham, listen to Americans...."WE DO NOT WANT ANOTHER OF YOUR WARS" We do not think it is our job to take out Assad. We simply want chemical weapons taken off their battlefield in their civil war. This should not be our war.

    September 14, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. michael

    Of course. No surprise here. I wish the GOP would cease to exit – please God, wipe them off the face of the Earth.

    September 14, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Beating war drums is the last hurrah for these two angry old military hawks of the Republican Party.

    September 14, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Jay

    They want to go to war so bad they can taste it. It's a real shame.

    September 14, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Bill

    Is McCain EVER happy?? **sigh**

    September 14, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  9. steve

    So "shoot first" McCain is upset. Why am I not surprised? He needs to go back to Arizona and play with his gun collection. Even if diplomacy does not work, it's far better to try first than to reinforce the cowboy image of the US.

    September 14, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  10. former staffer

    well. ok then.

    September 14, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. Ash

    Devils!

    September 14, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  12. Greg

    Dear Senators, I am so sorry you didnt get your war. Maybe tonight when you go home if you are so hell bent on killing, perhaps you put your consealed weapon permits to use for the greater good of the American people and start the killing with yourselves. Move on you dried up old prunes, you dont reprents Americans.

    September 14, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Two Senators...gay and proud...

    September 14, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. carlin123

    What is with these two?

    September 14, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. J

    Sounds like Warmongering to me.

    September 14, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  16. shapiro

    Thank God John McCain is not our President. War mogger

    September 14, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  17. alf564

    Neither are qualified at this point to speak for America. McCain lost in a while back and graham is really just a footnote

    September 14, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  18. Total2199

    It seems unbelievable that the POTUS could find himself in bed with these two lunatics....

    September 14, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  19. Mailin Wong

    I can't believe that this old fart is still looking for attention!

    September 14, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. GubnitSPY

    Oh yeah, whoo
    Everybody's lover, everybody's brother, I wanna be your lifetime friend
    Crazy as a rocket, nothin' in my pocket, I keep it at the rainbow's end
    I never think of money, I think of milk 'n honey, grinnin' like a Cheshire cat
    I focus on the pleasure, somethin' I can treasure, can you picture that?
    Can you picture that?

    Hey Floyd, take a verse

    Let me take your picture, add it to the mixture, there it is I got you now
    Really nothin' to it, anyone can do it, it's easy and we all know how
    Now begins the changin', mental rearrangin', nothing's really where it's at

    Now the Eiffel Tower's holdin up a flower
    I gave it to a Texas cat
    Fact is there's nothin' out there you can't do
    Yeah, even Santa Claus believes in you

    Beat down the walls, begin, believe, behold, begat
    Be a better drummer, be an up and comer Can you picture that?
    Can you picture that
    All of us are winnin, pickin and a-grinnin, Lordy but I love to jam

    Jelly-belly gigglin', dancin' and a-wigglin', honey that's the way I am

    Lost my heart in Texas, Northern lights affect us
    I keep it underneath my hat
    Aurora Borealis, shining down on Dallas, can you picture that?
    Can you picture that?

    Can you picture? You gotta see it in your mind
    Can you picture? You know it's quick and easy to find
    Can you picture? You don't have to buy a frame
    Can you picture? Can you picture that?
    Can you picture that?

    Use it if you need it
    Don't forget to feed it
    Can you picture that?

    September 14, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. ted

    OK, Graham and McCain, you can be on the first jeep or tank and lead our guys into war in Syria when we go boots on the ground. Either do it or shut up. It is very interesting when blowhards like you are all about commiting troops to war, but hide in your comfortable DC digs yucking it up.

    September 14, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Of course force is no longer an option. The minute Russian troops hit the ground in Syria to help 'secure' the weapons, any attack on Syria from the outside would mean war with Russia. And the minute a Russian soldier is killed, Russia will flood Syria with infantry and armor and crush the rebels. Who does Obama think he's kidding?

    September 14, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. Obama

    Of course force is no longer an option. The minute Russian troops hit the ground in Syria to help 'secure' the weapons, any attack on Syria from the outside would mean war with Russia. And the minute a Russian soldier is killed, Russia will flood Syria with infantry and armor and crush the rebels. Who does Obama think he's kidding?

    September 14, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. Big_D

    Yawn.

    September 14, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  25. Michael

    Pipe down you two.

    September 14, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21