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. MarcNJ

    John, Lindsey.. .get it through your friggin skulls, the American people don't want the United States involved in Syria's war. And a diplomatic solution to the chemical weapons keeps us out of it.

    September 15, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  2. sam i am

    If Obama had taken the military route, McCain and Repugs would be blaming Obama for going against national polls saying Americas don't want to police Syria. Republicas are hypocrites through and through.

    September 15, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  3. sam my dog

    If Obama had taken the military route, McCain and Repugs would be blaming Obama for going against national polls saying Americas don't want to police Syria. Republicas are hypocrites through and through.

    September 15, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  4. What a joke.

    Wow it is all politics with these people. First their for it, then against it and now for it again when there is a compromise being set. This is ridiculous, no reason why an Republicans should be occupying a house or senate seat.

    September 15, 2013 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  5. Penny Wright

    You kids get off my lawn!

    September 15, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  6. david

    There was a boy named Mike that attended Glendale High school in the 80s. He was telling people stories in his school that Micheal Jackson had a doctor in the future whose name was Murray. The doctor was being acquitted in court of killing Jackson from a drug overdose, a light skinned black woman with blonde braids was reading the verdict and it was innocent, just before the verdict was being read, Murray was knotting his head to the deputy behind him that he would be found innocent, Janet Jackson was complaining to the media that there were two murders, Mike was one of them for spreading those rumors in school.

    Jackson sang a song about Mike, "you have to be starting something, you have to be starting something, I hate E you, your a vegetable" That was Jackson's failed attempt at insulting Mike before he died.

    September 15, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  7. rory

    McCain time to retire and goes to the age care center.

    September 15, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  8. John C

    It would be great to see these two men put as much concern into a country called the USA as they have with Syria. “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.” Sun Tzu Seems like Putin understands the art of war better than our own West Point graduate.

    September 15, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  9. Chuck

    The american people have spoken and thank god we have a president who can hear them! These two dinosaurs want to force obama into a war so the republican party can use it against the dems in the next election. These two clowns need to be thrown out of office.

    September 15, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  10. Cepheus

    Peace is attainable!

    September 15, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  11. MaryM

    And If McCain was elected President we would be at war all over the world.

    September 15, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  12. AlFetahh

    Warmongers are losing. It's the beginning of the end for McCain and his cronies.

    September 15, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  13. styymy

    These two dudes are crazy.

    September 15, 2013 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  14. John

    If these two feel we need a stronger response we can tell them to grab a gun and go over there or stop shooting off their mouths. they change their responses depending on what day of the week it is. A bunch of losers.

    September 15, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |

    The only goal of McCain seems to be getting us into another war that we don't want and we can't afford. Maybe if we can settle this peacefully, other foreign issues can also be settled peacefully. What is the point of all these wars? Oh yeah, gas prices go up and the one percent gets richer!

    September 15, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. America Suckered Again

    Putin and Assad got one over on Obama with this agreement. What a scam. Seriously, can anyone even suggest that Assad will give up all chemical weapon locations in the next week? Not at all. This was a way for Obama to back down and he jumped on it. Chemical weapons are here to stay. Their use will be common. The red line was a mistake on our part.

    September 15, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  17. Meta

    Why does that photo make the two of them look like they haven't had a decent bowel movement in weeks?

    You need more fiber in your diet.

    September 15, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  18. Mycenia

    Obama wants a military strike and his political opposition criticizes him. So, they go with a solution that does not involve our military and the political opposition criticizes him. Don't get me wrong, if it were a Republican in office, the same thing would be happening. But it begs the question... How can you possibly be taken seriously when your position on a subject is determined solely by the stance of your "enemy" and not by your own moral and intellectual integrity?

    September 15, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  19. mddledebo

    Of course they don't like it. These two will never like anything the Obama administration puts forward, AND they are two of the biggest hawks in the Senate. Easy as that.

    September 15, 2013 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  20. Anonymoose

    McCain & Graham are over-the-hill old timers. Nobody cares about their rants.

    September 15, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  21. JLS1950


    September 15, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  22. bezboz

    Go home McCain and Graham. Your lust for war is not popular.

    September 15, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  23. Jeff

    I guess tweedle-dumb and tweedle-dumber didn't get the memo... No one but them wants to get involved in the Syrian civil war.

    September 15, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  24. cosmotwo

    These two RINO's never miss a chance to get into a good war.

    September 15, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  25. Ahhh Sheit Midrauers

    Grow up McCain. We're not in thr seventh grade. If we can overt war, then lets do it. Lets not kill a lot of people unnecessarily just to show we are not weak

    September 15, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
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