McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution
September 14th, 2013
05:10 PM ET
7 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. Historian

    We'd actually prefer not to have a war, so no thanks senators. This deal works.

    September 14, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  2. Bob

    Unless McCain wants to come out of retirement and fly the mission to Syria he needs to shut the heck up. I'm not willing to risk our kids.

    September 14, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  3. Jordan

    So who was it again that was trying to start a war with Syria? I believe everyone blamed Obama, which ended in Syria agreeing to our terms. But in reality it was Repubs who are trying to push for a "more muscular answer"?

    September 14, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  4. Harold Hill

    Krazy McCain and his Nancy boy Graham are frothing in the mouth! War, war, war all we need is war! They both need to be committed to the insane asylum!

    September 14, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. Where were they?

    Where were these two when we were being ripped off by banksters? I don't think anyone has ever been charged with anything wrong there. When you're done with those guys, come back here...we have some more problems for you two to chase down.

    September 14, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. Ross

    The "twins" need to shut the hell up and support our President. They both like and may have the world record for Sunday morning TV shows. The are both embarassing to the USA.
    Ross
    Vietnam Vet

    September 14, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  7. Doc Ock

    So let's get this straight: Obama working with UN to deal with Syria and Republicans blast him. Obama threatens military action Republicans blast him call it irresponsible. Obama takes it to Congress to get their approval for military action Republicans mad because this gave Syria a chance to prepare for attack and Obama should have just gone ahead with airstrikes. Majority of congress not in favor of military action and will vote against it. Obama then works with Russia to negotiate a peace and have international inspectors go into Syria to avoid military action. Republicans are angry and want action. Anyone seeing a pattern here? This is partisan politics at it's absolute worse. Both sides need to stop this insanity. These guys (all of them) are so busy fighting each other it's no wonder that American foreign policy is a disaster. It's no wonder the American economy has been bad for the past 12 years. Politicians work for THE PEOPLE! They DO NOT work for themselves! They DO NOT work for corporations! They DO NOT play with the lives of soldiers in an effort to dis-credit each other!!!! Absolutely ridiculous!!!

    September 14, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  8. Dougie

    What did you expect from the war mongers. This agreement if it works probably saved American lives and millions of US dollars.

    September 14, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  9. Sassafras

    Please make these two go away. One lost the presidency and the other may not survive a primary. Bye bye

    September 14, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  10. John Stredkal

    Aww! Poor McCain and Graham. They didn't get an opportunity to go beyond rattling their sabers. They remind me of little boys, playing baseball, who when they don't get their way, take their ball and bat (missiles and bombs) and go home.

    I say good riddance!

    September 14, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. Allan

    McCain will settle for nothing less than World War III.

    September 14, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  12. Varun

    What else would red necks want other than war?

    September 14, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Ross

    These two "chicken hawks" ( I know John but that was a while ago, it's time to move on) just want war!
    Ross
    Vietnam Vet

    September 14, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Sean

    Wow not again, old grumpy and jumpy the two circus clowns are unsatisfied!!! They really deserve a big vote of no confidence, time to trow the towel!

    September 14, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. tulelakenewtimes

    What a mixed upside down world we live in with confusing signals all over the place. McCain, Graham and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker advocating for a more "muscular response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons recommending the administration provide more weapons to moderate opposition groups. Whereby,' "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."'

    Then the next minute "weighing favorably on the outcome of the talks between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, praising the accommodation as "significant progress."'

    On the other hand you have Republicans against what they had no problem supporting when their guy occupied the White House, a complete about face. You have Republicans complaining the president is going to use military force, then the next minute you have the same Republicans complaining because the president in their view isn't going to use force. Then you have Senators like McCain, and Graham whining about the president not arming the rebels. Where you have other Republican's claiming the president is arming the rebels.

    Where like Senator Rand Paul who would prefer we build an alliance with Assad, instead, over arming the vetted rebels. All while trying to solve the problem of Syria having CW's that Assad has been accused of using on Syria's own people to have them destroyed. Trying to accomplish all of this with no boots on the ground or firing a single shot. Amazing.

    September 14, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. Bart Flaster

    Dig the hole deeper republicans.

    September 14, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  17. Ryan

    These two men are way way way way past their prime and need to retire. While Putin probably is doing things for his own best interest, he was smart enough to help us out of getting into a conflict that has absolutely no end in sight.

    September 14, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  18. David Hume

    One of the few times these guys have actually made any semblance of sense. I'm not for war with Syria, but this agreement is next to meaningless. If one can use CW, and get away with merely apologize and hand over "all" the weapons, I'm not sure that's an effective deterrent. Especially when it's not clear how easily they'll acquire more, and how long they've had to hide their current weapons.

    September 14, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  19. Olufemi

    I think McCain & Graham should go ahead and start the war with Syria on their own. Hope they will not die in the war, as it unsettles the whole Mid-east.

    September 14, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  20. Mike

    I think it's a great agreement. Give those old guys a gun, and tanks... they can try and get things done they want to all by themselves.

    September 14, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  21. John N Florida

    They never saw a war they weren't willing for YOUR kids too fight.

    September 14, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  22. Name

    Really, what would make you happy Mr McCain? Continuing into the abyss of political nothingness? Isn't it about time some progress on SOMETHING happen? Really? Quit playing games with Americans money and time to further your political aspirations.

    September 14, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  23. ryan

    when is that when bag McCain ever going to just die already. I can't believe my fellow Arizonans keep voting that idiot into office.

    September 14, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. McGee523

    So, their solution is to arm rebels who are "moderate?' Yeah, that's worked out well in the past.

    September 14, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Stewart

    Once again these two clowns show how far out of touch with the people they are.

    It is NOT our war, it is an internal conflict we are NOT the policemen of the world. the party of stupid strikes again

    John Lindsey dont go away mad just go away

    September 14, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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