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. Gork

    John McCain, the soldier who couldn't shoot stright – and Graham who would still get beat up on the playground – name a cogent proposal the boys have ever offered for any (all) the Obama positions they've condemned.

    September 14, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  2. sammy750

    These 2 guys are so racist and hate Obama. No matter what he did short of putting troops on the ground, Graham and McCain will not be happy. Republicans love our troops to fight wars like this and have many of our military killed. This is what Bush did in Iraq. We lost over 4000 troops for a useless war started by Bush. And Iraq lost 10s of thousand of citizens to that war. Republicans don't care about life of the human or the debt they created fighting wars.

    September 14, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  3. carl martin

    someone ask both of these traitors
    Why they are hell bent on aiding al-Qaeda

    September 14, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  4. kebcarerra

    For McCain and Grahm Credibility is where you strike first and ask questions later , where Tomahawk and cruise missiles crush the Syria regime and the freedom fighters will be on their knees thanking us, even wanting to be just like us . Nothing could be further 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 diplomacyand how a president with the best military should act, tens of thousands of innocents don't have to die because Obama carries a big stickand Assad knows he will use it . Take a lesson again rahm and McCain.

    September 14, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  5. Mr. Woo

    Crusty ol' warmongers!

    September 14, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  6. Pierre - Westmount

    Duplicates of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz !

    September 14, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  7. sally

    I do not agree with McCain and Graham at all. We do not need to go sticking our noses in Middle Eastern business. Anything we do will be wrong and will increase anger at us from all quarters. This has been our history...pump up some strong-man leader who then misuses his power, gets rich, and begins a systematic repression of ordinary people with ensuing hatred of the U.S. coming as a result!

    September 14, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. 4mirrorlogic

    These guys would see the world in flames just to make a political point and demand American about gaining that preeminence by being a beacon of rationale and cooperative international relations... not diplomacy based merely on threats of force. Our military is strong and capable, all the more reason to not result to bullying and over aggressive threats.

    September 14, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    wow so sad that the Russian President is more in touch with what Americans want than our own Government...

    September 14, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  10. Ldl

    They will not be happy until they send our money, troops, and resources over there. I wonder which defense contractor gives them the largest donation?

    September 14, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  11. AP

    McCain stop complaining about everything Omaba does. It was your party that was NOT in favor of war or even the air strikes. You just want to go to war and finish Syria. It needs to be done in a diplomatic manner. No one wants to go to war again. The agreement will not make everyone happy but at least the chemical weapons can be removed from Asad and the UN will support this agreement. This agreement will also bring additional support from those countries who were not in favor of the US led air strikes. Now after this agreement Asad does not comply more countries will go after this guy and we do not have to go in alone.

    September 14, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. Timmy Smith

    The two warmongers that could not even get their OWN party on board for a US led air strike NOW blames Obama?

    September 14, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  13. David

    If they were honest and divulge their true intentions, McCain and Graham would not look so bad.
    They and their' Think Tank want to keep, and grow American Investment in the Middle East. They created a Civil War in Syria to try to do just that.

    September 14, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  14. JDK80

    McCain has no idea what is going on or what to do. he is a war monger

    September 14, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  15. Belseth

    Some one needs to buy McCain a copy of Call of Duty. It would save lives giving him an outlet for all that aggression. At least get the guy a toy sword to wave around.

    September 14, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  16. truehoosier62

    McCain and Graham both need to sit down, shut up, and contemplate the meaning of the words, "irrelevant" and "retirement" as they pertain to their place in the Senate. Both have lost the backing of Conservatives, (I happen to be a life long Conservative), most moderates, and as always, all Liberals. They are a part of the overwhelming problem within the Republican party; arrogance, small mindedness, bitterness, and poor vision for our Country's, and our world's future

    September 14, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  17. fury

    They are just jelous that someone better then them got this idea into play. Stop crying, kids!

    September 14, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. tommy

    These two amigos makes me laugh. Two angry white miserable men that loves war.

    September 14, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. Steven Gold

    The politicians still don't get that most of America does not want to get in deeper in this conflict. So they blast others that don't go charging in.

    September 14, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  20. nick

    Yet to see a time when Sen.McCain saw a war or an armed conflict he did not like.

    September 14, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  21. Common Sense

    LOL u mad bros

    September 14, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. david

    I am a Democrat but McCain is right about this.

    September 14, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  23. texasnotea

    If the American people trusted the judgement of these two canker sores then Romney would be in the White House.

    September 14, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  24. Evelyn Connaway

    One a fly boy who got shot down and was a prisoner – the other a desk jockey legal beagle. Didn't have to make to many decision, just followed orders. Now they want to tell everyone what to do and how to do it. Guess we could find some of those old mercenaries like Reagan and Bush 1 and Bush 11 and Cheney did, say like Col James Steele and a few others to fight their dirty wars under cover and take out the bad guys – which didn't really solve anything, just killed a hell of a lot of people. Why don't they shut up and be nice boys and try to help without starting another war!

    September 14, 2013 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  25. Dad Dee Oh

    The two gentlemen like to see a "muscular response" against Syrian government. Muscular means manpower, which means troops on the ground ? I thought most Americans agree it's a bad idea.

    September 14, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
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