McCain to Block Joint Chiefs Chairman over Disagreement on US Role in Syria

On July 18, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made it clear he intends to block the nomination of General Martin E. Dempsey to another two-year term as Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff.

McCain and Dempsey differ in their views on U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict. The Senator says he is placing "a hold on General Dempsey until General Dempsey responds to legitimate questions" on the issue.

During confirmation questioning for Dempsey's new term, McCain asked if the costs "of our inaction in Syria are now worse for our national security interests than the costs and risks associated with limited military action?"

According to The New York Times, Dempsey responded with an answer that was not the one McCain wanted to hear. He told McCain that while he favors "building a moderate opposition and supporting it," he thinks the decision of whether to use "direct kinetic strikes is a decision for our elected officials, not for the senior military leader of the nation."

McCain grew "frustrated" and told Dempsey that he was supposed to advise the president on military action.

To this, Dempsey replied that he does advise the president, but such advice is private counsel which "will remain private." Dempsey then reiterated his point that "the decision to use force is the decision of our elected officials."

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.


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