McCain: Obama ‘can change’ on Syria

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday encouraged President Obama to study past presidents and change his strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

McCain said former presidents often shifted gears to react to crises abroad.

“Jimmy Carter changed after Afghanistan, George Bush, the surge after Iraq was failing, Clinton after Srebrenica. He can change,” McCain said about Obama in an interview on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

ADVERTISEMENT
McCain, though, expressed dismay that Obama had not moved aggressively to target ISIS in Syria even as the group expands its foothold in the Middle East.

“But these other presidents saw the reality, did change in light of conditions as they existed, and this president seems to blithely ignore them,” he added.

President Carter decided to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Under Carter, the CIA also provided assistance to the Afghan rebels.

President Clinton reversed course and decided to intervene militarily in the Bosnian War in the mid-1990s after a massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. 

Asked if he would want Obama to seek congressional authorization for airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, McCain said the president still hadn’t developed a strategy.

“Under the War Powers Act he can bomb and then come to Congress after 30 days,” McCain said. “But what he really needs to do is come to Congress with a strategy, with policies that implement this strategy. Does anyone on earth know what the president's strategy is?”

Obama is reportedly weighing the possibility of authorizing airstrikes on ISIS in Syria in addition to strikes by the U.S. military in Iraq.

Some lawmakers are calling on the president to seek congressional authority for further action. 

The president doesn’t view the U.S. as a nation that needs to lead the world, McCain added. 

“That does not mean sending troops everywhere engaging in every war. But when America's leadership is absent, bad things happen,” he said. “And all of this could have been avoided.”