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McCain’s Predictable Warmongering on Syria

John McCain writes an op-ed [1] on Syria that is just as deranged and irresponsible as you would expect it to be:

It is an opportunity to impose significant costs on an adversary that wants to undercut the United States everywhere. It is an opportunity to weaken an anti-American ruler who will always view us as an enemy. And it is an opportunity to rebuild U.S. credibility and influence in the Middle East by taking actions, as only we can, to arrest the spread of a regional conflict that is an incubator of global terrorism.

None of these is a good reason for the U.S. to attack Syrian government forces, which is what McCain wants the administration to do. Let’s dispense with the weakest reason first, namely the misguided desire to “rebuild U.S. credibility and influence” by plunging into yet another ill-conceived war in the region. For one thing, U.S. “credibility and influence” aren’t going to be restored by pursuing another war for regime change, especially when “success” in that effort is sure to benefit jihadist groups operating in Syria. Our allies will once again look on in astonishment as they see the U.S. blundering ahead without regard for the consequences, and our allies in Asia will probably be especially annoyed that the U.S. is being pulled into an additional conflict that will distract Washington from their concerns. The more wars the U.S. fights in the Near East, the more tarnished our reputation becomes and the less reliable the U.S. becomes as an ally in other parts of the world.

The U.S. has no need to “impose costs” on the Russians in the Syria or elsewhere. Doing so won’t make the U.S. the slightest bit more secure. It will, in fact, expose the U.S. to the very risks that a major power is supposed to be trying to avoid in a war like this one. The Russian presence in Syria that McCain cites as the reason why the U.S. “must” attack the Syrian government is one of many obvious reasons why doing so would be foolhardy in the extreme. In the best case, the Russians keep attacking U.S.-backed groups and nothing changes, and in the worst case Russian forces working with the Syrian government are killed on the ground and a wider war becomes more likely. McCain also wants to encourage a resumption of hostilities in Ukraine by funneling more weapons into that conflict. McCain doesn’t see the fact that the conflict in Ukraine is dying down as an opening to reduce tensions, but as another “opportunity” to get more people killed.

Weakening the Syrian government doesn’t advance any vital American interests. It may make the Saudis and Gulf states happy, but it is abundantly clear by now that their interests and ours in Syria and throughout the region diverge widely. It is those Gulf clients more than anyone else that are most responsible for helping to incubate and promote jihadism around the world and especially in Syria, and McCain would like the U.S. to do even more to help them achieve their goals. Perhaps John “Thank God for the Saudis” [2] McCain isn’t the best judge of what the U.S. should be doing there or anywhere else.

9 Comments (Open | Close)

9 Comments To "McCain’s Predictable Warmongering on Syria"

#1 Comment By Do The Funky Surge! On October 13, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

McCain is as responsible as anyone in Washington for inflaming these conflicts. Now he has the damnable gall to pretend that it all somehow just happened, that what McCain himself argued for for didn’t help create the chaotic power vacuum that Putin has rushed in to fill.

Well, buddy, we know that you’re substantially responsible for this mess, and we’re not buying it. You have even less credibility than those you cite as authorities in your opinion piece, like convicted “classified information remover” David Petraeus, who thought he could get away with an adulterous affair as head of the CIA in the mass surveillance world he helped to create.

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On October 13, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

Not surprising from the guy who posed for pictures with ISIS militants and thought they were “Freedom Fighters.” I’ll have some Freedom Fries with that, and Supersize it.

#3 Comment By collin On October 13, 2015 @ 4:51 pm

At this point, there is only one way to stop the Syria Civil War…Simply all other nations pledge not to send weapons and give aid to refugees. None of the sides will surrender if everybody can get weapons from the US, Russia, Saudia Arabia, etc.

#4 Comment By Uncle Billy On October 13, 2015 @ 6:20 pm

McCain is very big on regime change and toppling governments that we do not like. We did this in Iraq and Libya and how did that go? Is the quality of life for most of the people better or worse?

John McCain was a hero in the Vietnam war, and I am grateful for his valiant service to our country. That being said, as a Senator, I am less than pleased. He is a hard core Neocon who wants to invade and occupy virtually every nation in the middle east. So far our adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have not gone so well. Now he wants to put boots on the ground in Syria. This is not a good idea.

#5 Comment By Andrew W On October 13, 2015 @ 6:45 pm

McCain needs the video of him blowing off a Syrian Christian woman thrown in in his face every time he speaks about this. Any time he speaks in public he needs that brought up in the Q and A.

#6 Comment By bacon On October 13, 2015 @ 7:37 pm

Senator McCain is consistent to the degree that one might have him represented in absentia at any foreign policy forum by a handout sheet or a recording saying something along the lines of “send in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, shoot and bomb in every direction until they get the message”.

#7 Comment By Tom On October 13, 2015 @ 11:54 pm

It is an opportunity to weaken an anti-American ruler who will always view us as an enemy.

McCain is really ramping up the circular logic here.

Assad doesn’t just dislike us for no reason. He views us as an enemy because we’re trying to get rid of him.

It would be a lot cheaper to stop arming his opposition. Then he won’t view us as an enemy anymore.

#8 Comment By bacon On October 14, 2015 @ 12:23 am

To Uncle Billy,

In re your statement that Senator McCain was a hero in the Viet Nam war, he was a Navy pilot with a “bad boy” reputation who did his job well, a dangerous job, and when captured he refused special treatment. Honorable service, but not exceptional. Most of our military do the same.

#9 Comment By jk On October 14, 2015 @ 4:23 am

John McCain: Here’s a history lesson for you: 15/19 of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi, 0/19 were Iraqi, 0/19 were Russian or Chinese.

Get your priorities straight.

Thank god for the Saudis (and Israelis) indeed.