Sen. John McCainJohn McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report Bipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Week ahead: Pentagon funding in the balance as deadline looms MORE (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday disputed what he saw as a false premise behind President Obama’s U.S. foreign policy.
“The president keeps setting up this intellectual dishonest straw man that there are those who either want to do nothing and those who want to send in the military,” McCain said on MSNBC’s "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
Obama uses that argument, McCain said, on Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, suggesting there are only those two options.
After living through multiple U.S. crises, McCain said no one wants to send people into harm’s way.
“But we do want to have a strong and steadfast America,” he said. “And when the president draws a red line and chooses to, then violates that red line, that then hurts the U.S.”
“It’s not that we’re weak,” McCain added. “It’s a matter of our reliability. Around the world, they believe we’re unreliable.”
The Republican senator reiterated his opposition to Obama’s withdrawal plan in Afghanistan, which he announced on Wednesday.
“Obviously, I’m very disappointed because it sends a clear signal to the Taliban and other enemies in the region that we will again will be withdrawing,” he said. “It’s the wrong message.”
McCain has long been a sharp critic of Obama’s foreign policy approach, and has blasted the administration for not responding more forcefully in Syria after he said Obama’s "red line" was crossed.
In his commencement address at West Point on Wednesday morning, Obama laid out how the U.S. will shift away from relying on the military.
“Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail,” he told graduates of the U.S. Military Academy.
The threshold for determining military action should be higher, Obama said, if international problems “do not pose a direct threat to the United States.”