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. MLS

    An agreement with Russia over a hotbed issue and you cry wolf? What blindness is this? A diplomatic course that advances international cooperation is a landmark, not a failure. Get out of kindergarten.

    September 14, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  2. davidintel

    McCain is just mad he can't get America into another war.

    September 14, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    McCain and Graham are very frightening people. We have a chance for peace here. The United States cannot just bomb whoever we want to bomb. It's wrong.

    September 14, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  4. Todd

    If it works out in the end, it does not matter who orchestrates the deal with Syria. It could be Mickey Mouse for all I care. McCain would rather fire missiles and that would not work either.

    September 14, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. al wright

    Would someone please tell McCain and Graham to shut up? They never see anything positive that comes from the Obama administration. I am a Republican but this type of of rhetoric borders on anti-american. McCain now says he wants to write an op-ed to be published in a leading Russian newspaper to counter Putin's op-ed in the New York Times. Does he think he is President? He has no standing to be a spokesman for America. If I remember correctly he LOST the election for president some time ago. Get over it. Retire, and leave foreign policy to the elected government. Being negative against any position of the current administration borders on being a traitor.

    September 14, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |


    September 14, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  7. Liberal Veteran grew up in Georgia now living in California

    Like anyone should care what that christian theocracy wishing Gingrich and that poker playing during congressional session McCain really think? Also, the point of government is not to start wars at a whim, but rather attempt to solve the issues through diplomacy. Gingrich and McCain have both lost their minds to just want to continue on the war path.

    September 14, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  8. RE McCray

    McCain just wants another war. Having a President with a Noble Peace Prize sends the war mongers into a tailspin.

    September 14, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  9. RickN

    I'll go with the efforts to avoid our involvement militarily. Hold back the pit bulls (mccain and graham). Their lust for killing has to be restrained by the sane people.

    September 14, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  10. Wisconsin Gal

    Please, Senators McCain and Graham, stand down. Give diplomacy a chance to work and if it doesn't, the President can then seek a military solution. The American people do not want another war.

    September 14, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  11. Beverly

    All I've read is just more political rhetoric. I condemn Carl Levin's (and Debbie Stabenow's) agreement to vote yes on any Senate vote on military action in Syria. Yet, I deplore Senators McCain and Graham's verbiage. There is nothing the US can do to change the course of the Middle East. We need to concentrate on the problems in our country first. Have they done anything about lately? No, they haven't. Congress also passed Obamacare and most of them didn't even bother to read it beforehand. With politicians like these, the US doesn't need any more enemies.

    September 14, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  12. "Peace in our time"

    Obama combines the spinelessness of Neville Chamberlain and Jimmy Carter with the naked abuse of power of Richard Nixon and the cronyism and disrespect of the rule of law of Warren Harding.
    Truly the WORST President ever.

    September 14, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  13. Bill

    I know that its been awhile since it's been used, but there's this word, called D-I-P-L-O-M-A-C-Y. It's a little different than the shoot first, ask questions later approach we've gotten used to over the last decade. I know that the rabid Republicans consider any sort of compromise a sign of weakness, whether it be as foreign policy or just about any bill that passed through the House of Representatives, but its about time we started using it before the Republican brand of warmongering bankrupts our country further and alienates us even more from the rest of the global community.

    September 14, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  14. Jean2

    WHAT DO THES TWO GUYS WANT??????????????

    September 14, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  15. joe saab

    Republicans are being shut out and have nothing to do but whine about it on Sunday talk shows.

    September 14, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  16. giggig

    Graham,McCain,the leading edge sharp American Thinkers ! US Congress lagging behind several election periods.

    September 14, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  17. MrG

    So... what is it going to be?

    September 14, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  18. Adam

    And there response? Start WWIII. These two should be exiled to the dustbin of history. No one said a diplomatic solution to this would be simple and give everyone what they wanted, but bombing the crap out of an internal conflict still shows the cavemen that this idiots are!

    September 14, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  19. omeany

    Will someone please get McCain & Graham up to speed, the American people DO NOT WANT MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA!

    McCain needs to step down. First he insists we get involved in a military capacity in Syria then he threatens to impeach the President if after a misslle strike fails he puts boots on the ground. Now he says the diplomatic solution will not work. I shudder to think how many wars our country would be involved in if this psycho had become our President.

    September 14, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. Peacefull Warrior

    Assad will most certainly move his CWD's all over Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, and US will have no clue where they are come mid-2014. But then Obama/Kerry would not open their mouth anymore for fear of Putin sticking it to them again.

    September 14, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. KBNJ

    Man, are these two jokers gonna pay for this at the polls (unless McCain just resigns – did I see that in the news?).
    If you want to attack Obama on his traitorous arming of Al Qaeda and ridiculous red line, I'm with you – but if there's ANY chance we can get these chemical weapons out of the hands of BOTH Assad AND Al Qaeda, why in the h311 wouldn't you? Our govt. is supposed to protect US, not people who hate us at the EXPENSE of our safety.

    September 14, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. elvix

    IIs McCain running again for the second time for president?

    September 14, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  23. kebcarerra

    McCain and Grahm are in serious do do if Obama succeeds and they know it . To them Credibility is where Tomahawk and Cruise missiles are used crushing Syria in a blood bath where so called freedom fighters will be thanking us. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Defense contractors want these weapons used to further line their pockets before the sequester rips deeper into their war profits. If Assad gives up his chemical weapons Obama will once again show the GOP true diplomacy and how a president with the best military should act , tens of thousands of innocents don't have to die because Obama carries a big stick and Assad knows he will use it. Take a lesson Grahm and McCain.

    September 14, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  24. yogi

    These two are idiots, period, they will be against whatever it is the administration does. McCain cannot wait to get involved militarily, he wants to bomb, he is beyond pathetic.

    September 14, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  25. Tyler Durden

    McCain and Graham are US politicians in the employ of the Jewish neo-cons and owe their allegiance to Israel, not the US.

    September 14, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
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