A defeated-sounding Sen. John McCain chided the president for moving toward a diplomatic solution to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, suggesting that the U.S. should be leading—not Russia.
“I was very disappointed that the president did not mention the Free Syrian Army and our moral and material assistance, which is required. I think they do feel abandoned,” the Arizona Republican said. “Nothing will drive Syrians more into the hands of extremists than to feel that they have been abandoned by the West.”
McCain rebutted the president’s plan to negotiate with the Russians on a diplomatic solution to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on civilians. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Geneva on Wednesday to try and work out the details of a deal that would allow the Syrian regime to give up their chemical weapons to the international community, and ultimately for destruction.
“I’m not against negotiating—trying to include the Russians or get their agreement. But why not have a resolution today in the Security Council that calls for the inspectors to identify chemical weapons inspectors? What’s the point of going to Geneva to meet with Lavrov?” he said, pointing out that the Russians are supplying the Syrian regime with weapons.
The president’s diplomatic solution isn’t far from the diplomatic solution McCain himself was discussing with a group of senators on Tuesday, though.
The senators proposal, NBC News learned, would replace the resolution of military force approved by a Senate committee with one that directs the United Nations to remove Syria’s chemical weapons—a diplomatic solution in other words. If that failed, the resolution would authorize the president’s use of force.
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