McCain to Trump: Airstrikes alone won’t achieve objectives in Syria

Camille Fine

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday praised President Trump for ordering airstrikes in Syria, but cautioned they do not make up for a lack of strategy.

“I applaud the president for taking military action against the Assad regime for its latest use of chemical weapons, and for signaling his resolve to do so again if these heinous attacks continue,” McCain said in a statement.

“To succeed in the long run, we need a comprehensive strategy for Syria and the entire region,” he added later. “The president needs to lay out our goals, not just with regard to [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria], but also the ongoing conflict in Syria and malign Russian and Iranian influence in the region. Airstrikes disconnected from a broader strategy may be necessary, but they alone will not achieve U.S. objectives in the Middle East.”


Earlier Friday night, Trump announced that he ordered “precision strikes” against “targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities” of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation for last weekend’s suspected chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma.

“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” Trump said.

The operation, which came after a week of deliberation, was carried out in coordination with Britain and France, leaders from the countries said.

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has long advocated for a more robust U.S. military response to the Syrian civil war.

He’s also repeatedly knocked Trump for not having comprehensive strategies for a slew of global hot spots, including Syria.

In his statement Friday, McCain thanked Britain and France for helping in the operation and said he hopes Assad gets the message.

“I hope these strikes impose meaningful costs on Assad,” he said. “The message to Assad must be that the cost of using chemical weapons is worse than any perceived benefit, that the United States and our allies have the will and capability to continue imposing those costs, and that Iran and Russia will ultimately be unsuccessful in protecting Assad from our punitive response.”

Tags Donald Trump John McCain

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