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. cathstar

    Let's not "give peace a chance." Let's go to war instead. Brilliant! Let's follow in the footsteps of Bush (the lesser) and lose lives and worldwide respect, yet again. These two fools should be impeached or, at the very least, have the decency to never run for office again.

    September 14, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. Silver Lining

    These guys are so predictable. Why can't we look at this as an opportunity to work together with the Russians and try to move forward. Why do we have to reject anything not invented here? I don't feel like I am swallowing any pride, but if these guys feel that way, then they should do it. Because swallowing some pride is better than shooting yourself in the foot.

    September 14, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. kathleen mccaffrey

    send one of your sons, relatives or a friend to defend it then come up with a better idea

    September 14, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Freaken yahoos

    September 14, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. Jim Kendall

    "Assad will use the months and months afforded to him to delay and deceive the world using every trick in Saddam Hussein's playbook,"

    Wow, I think they misremember who was the deceiver...and the decider...GWB. Hussein always said he no longer had WMD.

    These two knuckleheads will no doubt get more Sunday airtime. . .Enough already! Idiots.

    September 14, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  6. annieL

    These two men are insane and unpatriotic. We're not talking about appeasing Hitler here. We're talking about a puffed up dictator of a small country backed up (maybe, until the going gets REALLY tough) by a blowhard chest-beating leader of a failed country. Besides, if a majority of Americans don't want to even drop a few bombs on Assad, they SURE don't want to go in with guns blazing.

    September 14, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Why don't you two hillbillies retire, go home and clip your coupons.

    September 14, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. Chuck

    There go McCain and Graham again being critical for the sake of being critical of whatever and everything President Obama does. This President could hand them world peace on a silver platter and they would still find it unacceptable. They need to accept and live with the fact that this country elected a man as its leader on two occasions and dismiss the fact that his complexion is different from theirs.

    September 14, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. penguin

    It's true that eliminating chemical weapons won't stop Assad from continuing the battle against those uprising against him, but the only way to stop the carnage is to put our boots on the ground. And the Republicans claim that putting boots on the ground is an impeacable offense!! No matter what Obama does, the Republicans would claim he is wrong. The Republicans have cried wolf so often that no rational person can believe them. We overthrew Saddam and look how peaceful Iraq is now. The overthrow of Assad will not result in peace in Syria.

    September 14, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. grady

    McCain...a noisy back seat driver..."you keep this up and we'll give you a couple of bucks and you can ride the bus.

    September 14, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. cbp

    These two men have not really read the agreement but they are dissing it already. Perhaps they need to be more positive because it appears that they cannot say anything positive about anything..

    Would they rather see troops on the ground or perhaps have us involved in another war. It is well-known that McCain served in VietNam and wound up in a prisoner of war camp. Was Lindsey Graham in the military and did he serve in VietNam or any other war zone.

    September 14, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. Roy

    These 2 goofs are an absolute embarrassment to our nation. And McCain is writing a rebuttal to the NYT story for Pravda newspaper?

    September 14, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  13. JasonW

    McCain and Graham's act is getting old. What would they have the President do? The President is criticized by Republicans for a possible strategic strike on Syria for using chemical weapons; the President is criticized by Republicans for trying to achieve a diplomatic solution to Syrian use of chemical weapons. Don't Republicans and their supporters realize how transparent they are? "Our number one priority is to make Barack Obama a one-term president" has become "Our number one priority is to oppose anything the President does, even if we at one-time supported it (e.g. Obamacare). You wonder how these people sleep at night.

    September 14, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. gahh

    All this complaining coming from, we're going to be in Iraq for at least a 100 more years, and Graham who said," I wish there were more illegals, in this country". These 2 sellouts, need to be sent back to their home states, on separate buses. It would be hard to decide, which one is the most useless. Obama is threatened with impeachment, if he starts a war, and called names, if he doesn't start a war. These guys have no problem with wars, because it brings in big money, for Big Businesses, and no problem, as long as it's somebody else's children, doing the fighting. Just Hypocrites.

    September 14, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  15. saywho

    Two corporate war sponsors.

    September 14, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. mike hanks

    If McCain and Graham are against it, I'm for it and vice versa.

    September 14, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  17. Kevin

    The only way McCain and his toady can achieve an erection is by blowing stuff up.

    September 14, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. JOE B

    These two warmongers will not be satisfied until they see bloodshed. If we do go to war I want these two on the frontline..

    September 14, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  19. jjumnaski

    That is why Mr. McCain you ain't the president ....

    September 14, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  20. Chris Gates

    Keep pounding that war drum!

    September 14, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. Jack

    It isn't meant to!

    September 14, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  22. jjumnaski

    The so called free syrian army are bunch of terrorists Mr. McCain was photographed with on of them. Mr. McCain, give it a rest my man!

    September 14, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  23. Craig from Pa.

    These two should be the first "boots on the ground " in Syria......

    September 14, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  24. TMBruno

    I'm not sure what I think of this. One side tells me they don't want peace. The other says its political rhetoric and political blasting of the OBama administration and nothing more. And then are they right about Putin and Assad and the deal being bait? I don't know help me clarify this one. Your thoughts may help me come to a clearer understanding. I'm confused. Sound off America.

    September 14, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  25. jjumnaski

    Ask why the free Syrian Army refused to condemn Al qaida?

    September 14, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
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