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. QuaayLuude


    September 14, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Rand Middleton

    Military industrial complex. I like Ike

    September 14, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. Chris

    You have to understand that McCain and graham are mentally challenged.

    September 14, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. Beverly

    'No Responses'? Really?????? not buying it...just close the comment section if you don't want to post comments

    September 14, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. Jim

    It doesn't matter what the Democrats or President Obama does, the Republicans will find fault. So sad.

    September 14, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  6. Brian L

    It's like that almost fight that the aggressor backs off of when the intended target actually stands up for himself. President Obama talked tough but couldn't back it up and now the Russians are laughing up their sleeve.

    September 14, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  7. Donnie the Lion

    You would think that McCain and Graham both have enormous stock holdings in defense contracting companies! I don't think the agreement is going to be honored either, but it is likely better than a missle launch.

    September 14, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  8. Rock Reynolds

    What a disgrace.
    Our so-called "leaders".
    "Leading" us off the cliff, from behind.
    Four days ago, McCain was gonna impeach Obama, if our boys' shoes hit the soil.
    These two idiots' solution to children being killed is: "Send more weapons".

    These two nimrods complain of "waning influence abroad".
    Hey Bozos, That's what we want!!!!!

    September 14, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. Bert974

    The real problem in Syria is the CIA. Those 2 clowns are not an opposition. They are on the same side of everything the US military does. There is no opposition in Jeffersonville.

    September 14, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. Scott

    Can there be any doubt who the real warmongers are?

    September 14, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  11. bmull

    Ace and Gary should go blow each other up.

    September 14, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  12. Mohamed

    Mccain's solution=WAR

    September 14, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. moxjox

    John McCain is still fighting the Viet Nam war and Lindsey Graham needs to be "anti Obama" to impress the T-publicans. It's political brinkmanship and theater meant to impress the base.
    Most Americans probably want to stomp Syria into the ground but they're tired of multiple wars killing our troops and draining our economy. Sometimes the glass being half full is the best you are going to get.

    September 14, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. Ro

    I think Mr. McCain will be looking for a new job very soon. Very, very soon. He is hungry war monger!!!!

    September 14, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. Walt

    Since when does this wind bag speak for your country. What a mess.

    September 14, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I so glad Mccain lost. He'll do anything to go to war! Let bomb em them im with obama. Lets figure out another way. Then hes back against him. All my solider friends stated the bombing would have reqrd boots on the ground. If they can get the chem weapons without the lost of AMERICAN lives then go for it.

    September 14, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. liberal disease

    I love to see Carl levin and these ultra libs pushing for war..its about as natural as a set of breast in hollywood

    September 14, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. Larry L

    These two Republican "hawks" are ready to send or kids to war and our dollars to Syria. The President is taking an impossible military scenario and working towards a reasonable diplomatic solution. This is what America wants – regardless of the loss of contributions McCain and Graham might suffer from angry defense contractors. What's their plan for jobs? How about healthcare? Social Security? Anything other than war?

    September 14, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Captain

    McCain wants war. He got paid by industrial-military complex to start a war. See veteran today.

    September 14, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  20. dzerres

    What? No money going to our military defense contractors? No American soldiers coming homein body bags? Shameful. You know what the GOP is really worried about? If Obama can get Putin to persuade Syria to give up its chemical weapons that it insisted that it did not have (snark) without a shot being fired, both Obama and Putin are prime candidates to share next year's Nobel Peace Prize and rightfully so.

    September 14, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. Captain

    His Shrub WH buds did it to NYC. CIA confirms. See: CIA Asset Susan Lindauer pdx 911 Truth – on youtube or her reports on veterans today.

    September 14, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. JW

    Easy for them to rip an agreement. It's not them that'll be responsible if it all goes bad. They can just sit on the sidelines and cheer.

    September 14, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. John

    Sour grapes.

    McCain's goal this whole time has been regime change against Assad – a goal that will require a considerable commitment of US military hardware, the loss of quite a few American lives, and will further open the lid on a Pandora's box of religious extremism.

    If, instead, the goal is to stop chemical weapons attacks, the Russian proposal is the BEST solution. After all, the "limited strikes" Obama previously proposed weren't going to be aimed at the chemical weapons themselves, for fear of dispersing the agents into the local atmosphere. Obama was planning to strike the weapons delivery systems only. The Russian proposal gets rid of the actual chemical agents, which are at the heart of the whole matter.

    September 14, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Gurgyl

    These both are idiots–I bet their brain is not working. Yes, we need diplomatic solutions. Period.

    September 14, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. caa3011

    These two just need to go away they have not met any war they don't like. All they need is Lieberman.

    September 14, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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