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. Kala Koenig

    The world knows what happened after Osama Bin Laden and Mujahaideen were armed by USA to fight against the USSR in Afghanistan. Do Sen.McCain and Sen.Graham want this history to be repeated in Syria?

    September 14, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  2. Mike

    These two war mangers would never be satisfied unless we go all out war with Syria and perhaps Russia. I never understood why people keep reelecting these two morons.

    September 14, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  3. Quest

    I am so happy Obama crushed strong-and-wrong McCaine in 2008. His military mind is obsolete.

    September 14, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  4. Native Oregonian

    Neither McCain nor Graham will ever be happy unless the US is engaged in yet another war. To them, and most of the GOP, blowing up people, cities, weapons, is what brings them joy and makes them feel oh so important and manly. They are both standing there salivating at the prospects, real or imagined, of bombing Syria, Iran, and whatever else gets in their way. To a rational, sane person, war is not the answer before all other options have been exhausted. But to them, war is the only answer. We cannot fix every other country. And in case you haven't noticed, we can't even fix our own country and take care of our own people.

    September 14, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  5. CJPA

    You guys are worse enemies of the President than Putin and Assad. You will do anything to bring him down so you can win the election in 2016. Trouble is, you guys are totally ineffective, and the President sees right through your games. Sorry – checkmate!

    September 14, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. Manuel J.

    Our "Dear" Leader has, once again, shown he has no real morals and is full of hot air. He should go back to community organizing in Chicago. Oh I forgot, they're busy killing each other with handguns that are supposedly outlawed for felons to own. What an f'ing joke!!!

    September 14, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. No

    McCain does everything he can to get in the media. Pathetic

    September 14, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Unbelievable

    This s unbelievable. McCain and Graham want to intercede on behalf of the Syrian opposition led by terrorists. Shocking to hear as a republican.

    September 14, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. BeverlyNC

    Of course McCain and Graham do not want a solution. They want a war and have for nearly 2 years. McCain has been calling for President Obama to bomb Syria almost since their civil war began. Republicans care nothing about what actions of war cost but say we have no money for Social Security, Medicare, and the most basic care of our own People with food, housing, and a quality education.
    Of course, it would not matter what best solution President Obama chooses – Republicans will stand against it, criticize it, go on the media and whine about it and yet never present an alternate detailed solution of their own.
    I stand with the President.

    September 14, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. ChiefGunner

    I am a Republican and to Senators McCain and Graham may I be the first to say Shut The F Up! The agreement means no war. Isn't that the best choice for the country? You two need to just leave office. The world has moved on and left you behind.

    September 14, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Alan

    there isn't anything more meaningless than ANYTHING these two have done in, say, the last 20 years!

    September 14, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  12. smgordon

    McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution.

    Of course they do Obama is the president and they want war.....

    September 14, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  13. RobinMO

    McCain and Graham are gung-oh to get us into a war in the Middle East. Been there; done that! It was a disaster. The Obama administration is appropriately trying to negotiate a resolution of the chemical weapons crisis. I'm with the president on this.

    September 14, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  14. The Lord of Excess

    Of course, the architects of doom and death ... the pawns of the military industrial complex ... what else are these guys going to say?

    September 14, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. glenview0818

    This agreement is a joke right, Putin/Assad dreamed it up and we buy it?

    September 14, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  16. Gloria

    Every time Senator McCain beats the war drums, it is a reminder to me that I did the right thing by not voting for him when he ran against President Obama.

    September 14, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  17. Grant

    Dear Senator McCain...please drop dead.

    September 14, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. Bob Hope's Ghost

    maybe if mccain wasn't so worried about his poker games on his phone, he could have voiced his opinion in the discussions.

    September 14, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  19. paul

    McCain is an idiot and has always been an idiot starting with Sarah Palin.

    September 14, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  20. Cooks

    Cooky warmongers.

    September 14, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  21. Diane

    McCain and Graham are the biggest war mongering idiots! Give them boots and put them on the ground to fight with their Al Quada buddies!!

    September 14, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |

    McCain and Graham should put their money where their mouth is – go join Syrian rebels and fight. A lot of people will be ready to buy them a one-way ticket.

    September 14, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  23. patw210001

    Pathetic traitors. Why do these two want America troops to die defending terrorists.

    September 14, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  24. Edward

    It is hard to avoid the feeling that McCain is still fighting the 2008 elections. How can he not realize that even aiding the rebels simply drags the country into another bloody quagmire–except in this case, the barbaric violent Salafists with be the central factor and will attack any US military presence?

    September 14, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  25. Roberto

    OK McCain and Graham...Start A War. Get busy. We need another one. We need five or ten more that will last for decades. But you better start cloning the military. Because there aren't enough actual human beings to feed your lust.

    September 14, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
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