McCain: I won’t vote to authorize just a few limited strikes

posted at 10:01 am on September 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

With most of Congress debating whether to authorize a very limited action against Syria and Bashar al-Assad, Senator John McCain told Today’s Savannah Guthrie that he’d vote against limited action.  The authorization for military force Congress gives President Barack Obama should give the Commander-in-Chief a wide range for strategic intervention in the Syrian civil war, to boost the Free Syrian Army and turn back Iranian influence in the region.  McCain insists that the popular notion of a terrorist-infiltrated FSA is nonsense, and “anyone telling you anything different isn’t telling you the truth”:

“I can’t support something that I’m afraid maybe doomed to failure in the long run,” McCain said.

“To do nothing would have consequences throughout the world,” McCain explained. “But to do something that really doesn’t change anything? In other words, some token strikes, and then sometime later Bashar al-Assad uses the chemical weapons again—what do we do then? Go through this same routine?”

McCain told Guthrie that “the Free Syrian Army is viable, it’s strong, and it’s moderate,” but not even the Obama administration believes that.  Neither does the New York Times, which in April reported that reality is actually the reverse, and that “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.”  McCain’s credibility on this point has been near zero since posing with kidnappers who supposedly were the good guys for whom we’d be fighting in an American intervention.

McCain told CNN that Obama is seriously considering sending weapons to the rebels:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told “New Day” Anchor Chris Cuomo that President Obama is “seriously” considering providing weapons to Syrian rebels. Senator McCain also made it clear that he doesn’t want to wait to take action until the United Nations weighs in with its report because the credibility of the United States is on the line and “no further proof” is needed on whether or not the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.

“We discussed… about increasing the capabilities and that means providing not only weapons, but the kind of weapons they need, which are anti-armor and anti-air. AK-47s don’t do very well against tanks,” McCain said. “So, we discussed that. And that would be a course of action that the President would seriously consider.”

Instead of worrying that the authorization is too narrow, most of McCain’s Capitol Hill colleagues worry that the draft language from the White House is far too broad:

U.S. lawmakers began work on Monday on their version of an authorization of the use of military force in Syria, worrying that President Barack Obama’s draft could open the door to possible use of ground troops or eventual attacks on other countries. …

“The resolution that they are presenting right now is so open-ended, I think even people who are sympathetic to the administration might have trouble supporting it,” said Representative James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

“The broad authority the president asked for creates lots of concern with me and others,” Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri told reporters after a three-hour classified briefing for lawmakers on Sunday. …

Some legal analysts said Obama’s authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, request as written could open the door to military action not just against Syria, but against other countries if they were deemed to be connected to the use of chemical weapons within Syria.

Expect this to get narrowed considerably before a draft even makes it out of committee in either chamber.


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