On Monday, Sens. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) met privately with President Obama at the White House over his call for Congressional approval of a military strike on Syria. Obama called for the vote on Saturday, saying that the Syrian government had recently used chemical weapons on its citizens and must be punished as a result. While saying that a vote against authorization of a strike would be “catastrophic,” McCain and Graham also said the goal of military action shouldn’t be to punish Bashar al-Assad, but to remove him from power.
Obama promised that any military intervention in Syria would be limited and not represent an open-ended commitment. He said the military strike was intended to “to deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.”
McCain and Graham want Obama to go much further, however. In a statement released Saturday they said, “[W]e cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the President’s stated goal of Assad’s removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests.”
Removing Assad from power would require a significant military commitment. He has strong support from Russia, China and Iran. An additional complication is that the opposition forces, whom we would be assisting, have significant backing from jihadists and al Queda. In other words, there are no good guys.
After their meeting, McCain and Graham indicated that Obama was receptive to expanding the mission in Syria. Graham said we was certain there was a “solid plan” from the Administration to “upgrade the opposition.”