During Saturday’s GOP Weekly Address, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said that President Obama “has adopted a cheap fatalism about America’s role in the world.” And “If we remain on our present course,” it could lead to the “unraveling” of the post-World War II rules-based international order.
Transcript (via ABC News Radio) as Follows:
“Hello, I’m Senator John McCain and I’m proud to represent the great State of Arizona.
On Friday morning, the headline on the front page of The Washington Post read: ‘Peace hopes unravel in Syria…Airstrikes level hospital in Aleppo…Children, doctors among dead in rebel-held areas.’ When the so-called ‘cease fire’ in Syria does ultimately collapse, we know what happens next: more barrel bombs and slaughter of the innocent by the murderous regime of Bashar Assad… more Russian bombing of moderate forces, including those trained by the United States…more refugees pouring out of the country and exacerbating the greatest refugee crisis since the end of World War II…greater instability on the borders of our partners and allies…and ultimately a stronger ISIL that will benefit from the chaos left behind.
For seven years, we’ve watched peace hopes unravel time and time again under a President focused more on withdrawing than succeeding. What’s unfortunately clear is this President has no strategy to successfully reverse the tide of slaughter and mayhem in a world that Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper says has not faced more crises and more refugees than we confront today.
The rules-based international order forged by a group of American leaders out of the ashes of World War II is under assault. Those that were there in the beginning recalled that they were ‘present at the creation.’ If we remain on our present course, we may well look back and realize that we were present at the unraveling.
Under this Administration, we’ve been on a holiday from American leadership. Too often, President Obama has adopted a cheap fatalism about America’s role in the world. No matter the challenge, we’re told that there are no good options, that our influence is limited, that we will not succeed overnight, that there is no military solution, and that we can’t solve every problem. These are truisms, but none of them absolve us of our responsibility to make the situation better where we can. And the results of our failure to do so are clear to see.
Vladimir Putin is learning from bloody experience in Ukraine and Syria that military adventurism pays, that diplomacy can be manipulated to serve his strategic ambitions, and that the worst refugee crisis since World War II can be weaponized to divide the West and weaken its resolve. The only deterrence that we seem to be establishing is over ourselves. Indeed, two years after Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, President Obama has shamefully refused to provide Ukrainian forces with the lethal assistance they need to defend themselves.
China is behaving less like a great power, and more like a petty bully. But time and time again, President Obama has failed to take timely action to defend our interests and our allies fearing China might be less likely to cooperate on priorities he thought were more important, like climate change and the reckless Iran nuclear deal. And as a result, China’s increasingly assertive behavior continues—cyberattacks, economic espionage and theft, militarization of one of the world’s most important waterways, and coercion of our regional allies and partners.
The Middle East is descending into chaos. But for the past seven years, President Obama has sought to scale back America’s involvement in, and commitment to, the Middle East. He has tried to convince us that the unfolding crisis in the Middle East is simply a local problem…that our nation’s core interests are not truly threatened…and that the consequences of regional instability—hundreds of thousands dead in Syria, the collapse of Libya, sectarian strife in Iraq—all of these can be mitigated and contained.
But the crisis in the Middle East has not been contained. It’s reached the streets of Paris, Brussels, and San Bernardino. It’s produced a refugee crisis that has destabilized Europe and divided the West. It’s given Vladimir Putin an opportunity to reassert Russia as a global power through intervention in Syria. And it has led America’s friends and foes around the world to distrust our word, question our resolve, and doubt our commitment.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the war against ISIL. We have achieved some tactical and operational success against ISIL thanks to the excellence of our military leadership and our troops on the ground. But at a strategic level, we always seem to be a step behind, a day late, and a dollar short. ISIL has taken the strategic offensive: launching sophisticated attacks into the heart of western civilization and deepening its presence in Libya. With thousands of terrorists and training camps, and reports of external attack plotting in that country, we see all the warning signs that existed in Afghanistan on September 10, 2001. Once again, the President’s response has been reactive, slow, and insufficient. Our military service members serving in Iraq and Syria deserve better.
President Obama’s failed policies of the last seven years have placed us in a tragic rut once described by Winston Churchill: ‘Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong—these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.’
President Reagan was fond of saying that America has never faced a problem because it was too strong. That’s how he won the Cold War without firing a shot. The threats America faces have changed since then, but the need for American strength is the same as it ever was. If history has taught us anything, it is that while America cannot solve all the world’s problems, none of its problems will be solved without American leadership. We can—and must—return to the principle of ‘peace through strength’ for the sake of our men and women who are serving and the security of our nation. Thank you.”
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