McCain: Kerry should step down

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Friday that Secretary of State John Kerry should resign, citing what he called the “failure” of a number of Obama administration initiatives abroad.

“I think John should consider [it] not only because of [the turmoil in Iraq] but the failure of Geneva, the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the probable failure of negotiations with Iran on nuclear weapons,” McCain said on Fox News’s “Your World with Cavuto.”

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Directly asked if the secretary of State should step down, McCain said he “hadn’t thought much about John Kerry,” before finally saying “yes.”

Critics have pounced on the administration’s foreign policy team amid the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, where an al Qaeda-linked group has captured key cities.

Kerry is also holding talks in Geneva to bring an end to Syria’s civil war, but that effort has made little progress, critics say. The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks Kerry restarted last year collapsed in April. Diplomats are also working with Iran toward a final nuclear deal by July 20, but many are skeptical the deadline can be met.

McCain called on Thursday for all of President Obama’s national security team to resign over the crisis in Iraq. The Arizona senator also told reporters this week that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, should also step down. 

The senator Friday reiterated his call for retired Gen. David Petraeus to take charge of the administration’s Iraq policy. Petraeus was largely credited with turning the U.S. strategy around behind the surge.

McCain also said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki should step down and be replaced with a coalition government, because he had “lost credibility with the Sunnis.”

Sunni militants overtaking large swaths of Iraq and Syria are members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“They pose an existential threat to the United States of America,” McCain said.

The senator has called for the U.S. to quickly launch airstrikes in Iraq. While he said no ground troops should be deployed, McCain opened the door to “maybe some special forces in certain situations.” 

President Obama on Friday firmly ruled out sending over U.S. troops, and said the administration is still weighing all other options.

McCain warned that Iran is “about to fill the vacuum” after sending its Revolutionary Guard into Iraq to fight the militants. The U.S., he argued, must ensure Maliki doesn’t turn to Iranians who could grab power in the country.