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

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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. goat

    Look at that photo. These are the baby boomers clinging to the last vestiges of the military-industrial complex that courted them for so much of their political career. They are the old view of the world, and the US cannot wait for the majority of them to relinquish power to those who don't see the status quo as "the best way forward".

    September 15, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Broham

    McCain and Graham are simply out of touch.

    September 15, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. alphonce

    President Obama made a smart move by preventing US to get messed up again. As NASA plan to sent manned mission to MARS, maybe President Obama should sent this 2 jokers there.

    September 15, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. Elska Min

    McCain doesn’t understand that the sun is setting on America as a respected superpower. The “Beacon of Democracy” is now the “Beacon of Hypocrisy”. The MIC must be constantly fed with new weapons and new blood, and McCain is its main provider. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but thank God he wasn’t elected in 2008.

    September 15, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. eddie2010

    Poor little warmongers, going to have to word even harder to get their war.... so sorry.

    September 15, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. GonzoinHouston

    This confirms that Obama's plan is a good one.

    September 15, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. onorio catenacci

    well said – these idiots are the same ones who gave us afganistan, iraq, VN, etc. ... how many American lives does it take to serve the ego of over-the-hill out-of tough so-called leaders?
    NOTHING we do will change the Middle East ...

    September 15, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Brandon

    If McCain & Graham want to go war so badly, why not just proudly take their second amendment right and go join the rebels? The Hezbollah is just doing that by siding up with Assad's forces. Half of the country is against another war and these two just can't get it. Please senators, feel free to go join the rebels. No one will stop you. Matter of fact McCain knows the terrain pretty well.

    September 15, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. EvilCCP

    When one is getting old, out of touch of young generation, out of touch of science, out of touch of difference cultures, he should have only power to his own believe, not anyone else.

    September 15, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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