Last Thursday night, president Trump approved missile strikes against the Assad regime in Syria in response to their most recent chemical weapons attacks against civilians.
The president may have received support from Sen. John McCain for ordering the strike, but now he says that the Trump administration is “partially to blame” for Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
McCain appeared on “Face the Nation” on Sunday where he argued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “was emboldened” by the Trump administration’s “hands off” approach towards Syria where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued that the Syrians should fix the problems of their own country, not the U.S.
“I think it probably was partially to blame,” McCain said. “And Secretary Tillerson basically saying the same thing after kind of contradicting himself and then saying the same thing argues vigorously for a plan and a strategy. As I said again, taking this action I support and was important.”
McCain also added that he was against Tillerson’s policies aiming towards defeating ISIS before concentrating its attention on Assad’s regime in Syria.
McCain called ISIS and Assad “totally connected” issues in terms of U.S. strategy. McCain’s point is spot on in that ISIS and Assad are interconnected issues, and not devising a long-term strategy could put the U.S. in a bind if we aren’t careful.
“We will take Mosul. We will take Raqqa. And we’d better have strategies as to how to handle those places once we have won it. But they’re not disconnected from Bashar Assad and the Al Qaeda – the war crimes that have been taking place,” said McCain.
“Bashar Assad, by polarizing the Syrian people, has also given rise to ISIS and Al Qaeda. So they are both connected. And I believe that the United States of America can address both at the same time. We can walk and chew gum. We have the capability to do both.”
McCain stated that a “one-time deal” to punish the use of chemical weapons “ignores the enormity of the problem.”
McCain noted that only a “small percentage of the people who have been slaughtered in Syria have been slaughtered by chemical weapons. “It’s been done by barrel bombs and indiscriminate killing and all the other war crimes that have been committed,” McCain said.
McCain added that the missile strike was a good start, but it didn’t stop the Syrians from using the airbase again just hours after the attack.
“But the signal that they’re able to fly almost right away out of the same facility indicates that I don’t think we did as thorough enough job, which would have been cratering the runways,” McCain said.
“And somebody will say, ‘Well, then they can fill in the runways.’ Yeah, and we can crater them again too.”
It is important to understand that McCain’s remarks aren’t deliberately aimed at being anti-Trump, but rather anti-war.
The bigger issue is avoiding entanglements in the Middle East that cost the United States billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and years of battle with no outcome.
We need long term solutions, not short-term fixes.