McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution
September 14th, 2013
05:10 PM ET
1 year 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. Name maria

    Send them over there to fight

    September 14, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. Mr Dalloway

    Graham my stars! Just let me get over here to my fainting couch

    September 14, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. Chairman

    "Chairman of the Joint Chief's of staff of the Military – agree with Obama" - well yes of course Obama is they're boss, they're all timid yes men, afraid to end up like Petrius or McChrystal, tossed aside and labeled a failure because the Great Barack Hussein Obama wasn't pleased. But then again, Obama has the right, to be more critical, more demanding and more intolerant of unconforming generals that are beneath him, I mean look at his long standing record of pro-American, patriotic dedication to this nation throughout his career, he deserves only the best and can't tolerate insubordination.

    September 14, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  4. Evergreen

    If negotiations had failed these two would be complaining about the President's inability to reach an agreement and a so called "missed opportunity." Nay saying appears to be their favorite sport.

    September 14, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. sisterchef

    How about if Mc-Graham just puts a lid on it?

    September 14, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  6. Regular Youngish Dude

    Of course they are.

    September 14, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. Gregory

    McCain, always the warmonger. Strike first and then see what happens. Wonders why he'll never be President. This kind of talk is reason enough for me to never vote for him.

    September 14, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  8. sit_down_john!

    John McCain: A study in Uncompetence. Incompetent student, soldier, politician and leader.

    September 14, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. behaviorquest

    It is reassuring that no one cares what McCain or Graham think about anything!

    September 14, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  10. z2cents

    These two are the greatest threat to our country

    September 14, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Norma Vessels

    That's all the Republicans in Congress know how to do .. go to war, and criticise everyone else's efforts to do the right thing.

    September 14, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. behaviorquest

    It is reassuring that no one pays any attention to what McCain or Graham think about anything!

    September 14, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  13. Mr Dalloway

    Sen Southern Belle and Sen Insane in the Membrane

    September 14, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. RC

    The war pigs won't be happy until we commit resources of the military-industrial complex.

    September 14, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  15. boatops

    Give McCain & Graham assult rifles and send them to Syria, let them fight for whatever they believe we should be there for

    September 14, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  16. Chris

    I'm guessing cnn will not allow comments to be posted on this topic, due to the massive influx of hatred focused towards these two warmongering chicken hawks.. However if this message should somehow get through, dear graham and McCain,please note that your era of USA invasion, occupation, destruction and the chaos our military leaves in its wake is over. Americans and citizens of the world our awake to your corruption. Now would you both please retire, or have heart attacks or something. Putin is right, and you both are pathetically wrong. You lose, again.

    September 14, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  17. Kevin Lawrence

    Obama is being played liked a bass Fidel at a hoe down. Obama being the ho!

    September 14, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  18. Thompson

    The Russian proposal is sound and logical. Disarm them NOW of their chemical weapons BEFORE they have the opportunity to use them again. We can go after Assad later.

    September 14, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  19. Welch

    Boo hoo no war.

    September 14, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  20. Dude

    Yet the republicans were ok with Saddam gassing the kurds while Reagan/Bush continued to supply him with weapons. McCain I used to respect you, now your like to old man with a shotgun on the porch yelling at the kids to get off your lawn.

    September 14, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  21. Petunia

    McCain should stick to his poker playing.

    September 14, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. king

    what does McCain want this president to do. majority of Americans are against a strike in Syria, and the formerly neocons of the repubs party changed into doves and started worshiping at the alter of Putin. lesson McCain why do you think obama should attack another country when the our country, especially the now dove republican party is against it.

    September 14, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  23. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    it's called a way to a U.N. security council resolution authorizing force without a russian veto !

    ...mccain is upset he doesn't get to invade another country...

    September 14, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. Loki12

    Can someone please put a muzzle on John McCain.

    September 14, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  25. Carlos

    Imagine MacCain as president of the United States. He is not the president. Obviously god is protecting us.

    September 14, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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