McCain, Graham blast proposed Syria solution
September 14th, 2013
05:10 PM ET
9 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. R Vela

    So McCain and Graham and the idiots on the Senate Armed Services Committee are upset that Obama struck a diplomatic deal even though 75% of Americans are against military action AND authorization for such action would have been blocked by the House. Really? Seriously? You know, at one time I had respect for Senator McCain, but now it's clear that he's just another politician, caring only about his own interests as opposed to those of the American people. Thank goodness we don't have HIM as our president. Thanks, Sarah.

    September 14, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. Brent

    McCain ripping Obama? Say it isn't so.

    September 14, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  3. Splicer

    They love to bomb things. I'm sorry it didn't work out for them.

    September 14, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  4. Name thinkergal

    Oh good grief - get over yourselves, McC & G!

    September 14, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. Namejay howars

    Republicans never saw a war they didn't like.

    September 14, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  6. Greg Clapton

    So Obama's Red Line means nothing.Pathetic!

    September 14, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. Roman

    No more war. No more killing. Folks, we have got to get these war mongers out of office. VOTE!!!!!

    September 14, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  8. Gerry Daley

    The fact is, it doesn't matter what the President does. The Republicans, especially McCain, will take the opposite position even if it means repeatedly changing his mind. Let's remember, this is the opportunist who chose the biggest Dumb Dora in American politics to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. These are just racists who are looking for any excuse. They have offered nothing to the American people except hatred.

    September 14, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  9. Madtrapper

    McCain is a moron, he has lost it. put him in the old soldiers home

    September 14, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  10. Hate this Imbecile

    Republican warmongers

    September 14, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. navaJohn

    Look at these two hawks trying to dig us deeper into the Middle East conflicts. The US is tired of being drug into Middle East wars. This solution, if real, is the best way to retaliate for using chemical weapons; take them away. NEITHER side is innocent in this conflict and I wish we'd stop taking sides here. Take his weapons away, and leave that conflict to take its course.

    September 14, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  12. RepublicanDummy

    We oppose Obama's attempt to attack Syria. We also oppose Obama for not attacking Syria.

    September 14, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. nanners

    Getting old McCain...getting old.

    September 14, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  14. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    To be honest, I'm not sure what the hell the US should do. I am so sick and tierd of being the police of the world. With that being said, Israel and Turkey, have got to feel like Obama, and the American people have let them down.I say so what.......get over it.

    September 14, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. Richard

    So Obama, after talking himself into a box, finds a way to finesse the situation so the US doesn't bomb (kill) more people, and there is at least a chance that some serious chemical weapons can finally be removed from the Middle East. The reaction by a man with serious anger management issues: "He's weak." Now that the Iranians are trying–again–to have some kind of dialogue with the US, you can be sure that the Republicans will insist that war is the only answer. I guess the last 12 years taught them nothing.

    September 14, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  16. chris

    if u don't like it, send your kids to fight alongside al-kaeda and the nusra front!

    September 14, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  17. Mikemo

    We saw how well rushing into a war without proper knowledge of the situation worked so well before.

    September 14, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  18. Pete/Ark

    PTSD has many manifestations ... among them is behavior that (in closed circles) is called "Wimp Syndrome" ... it is an unrealistic feeling among survivors of various situations (including , but not limited to , combat) that they failed to do "enough" ...a guilt syndrome manifested by intense bravado and aggressive posturing ... I can explain the asinine behavior of McCain... I have no clue as to why Graham acts so foolishly.

    September 14, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  19. wellywellup

    So McCain wants a tough military response, but in the same breath says that he would move to impeach Obama if there are boots on the ground. You can't have a tough military response without boots on the ground. All McCain cares about is getting even with Obama, and his desperation would be funny if it weren't so scary.

    September 14, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  20. Bulls

    McCain and Graham, the American people has spoken WE ARE TIRED OF WARS I would rather talk it out then always bombing folks McCain always wants to go to war.

    September 14, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. Faux Scandals

    If Obama is for it, they are against it.

    September 14, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  22. Elliott Carlin

    These two RINOs do more damage to the cause of Liberty than the libs.

    September 14, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  23. martyblueyes

    I think that if McCain and Graham give you advice, you better run in the opposit direction. They should be advocating for us not to get involved but these two military hawks, who are supported by the military industrial complex, have never met a war they didn't like.

    September 14, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |


    September 14, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. mike

    sure glad McCain is not president

    September 14, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
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