By Martin Matishak - 08/31/14 11:20 AM EDT
Sen. John McCainJohn McCainLots of (just) talk about 'draining the swamp' 56 memorable moments from a wild presidential race Is Georgia turning blue? MORE (R-Ariz.) on Sunday said President Obama’s responses to the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine show he is “either in denial or overwhelmed.”
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the senior Republican lawmaker said he was “astounded” by the president’s recent comments that news programs and social media were partly to blame for many believing that “the world is falling apart.”
Those remarks show he is “either in denial or overwhelmed” by the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Russian president Vladimir Putin’s designs on Ukraine, according to McCain, one of the administration’s top foreign policy critics.
On Saturday, McCain, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for a “military plan to defeat ISIS.”
The militant group “must be defeated, not contained,” McCain said Sunday.
The president has reportedly authorized the Defense Department to carry out surveillance flights over Syria to better assess ISIS capabilities in the country, but has admitted the administration doesn’t have a strategy yet for combating the group there.
McCain said the president made a mistake a year ago when he reportedly overruled his national security team and opted not to provide weapons to Syrian rebels.
“That was a seminal moment,” McCain said.
McCain also ripped an op-ed by Secretary of State John Kerry that called on allies to join the fight against ISIS, saying partners in the region are “cynical” because the administration threatened to bomb targets of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last year before pulling back.
On Ukraine, McCain called for providing arms to the military there in the wake of Russia’s recent incursions.
“For God’s sake, can’t we help these people defend themselves?” he asked.
He also called for stronger economic sanctions, but hedged on whether Moscow’s recent movements amounted to war.
“It’s a conflict that requires our participation,” McCain said.