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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

In Senate draft resolution on Syria, McCain finally meets a military action he doesn’t like

McCain speaks with troops in Afghanistan
Talking Points Memo: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Wednesday that he doesn’t support the Senate’s version of the resolution to authorize force in Syria, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt reported on air.

According to Hunt, McCain said that he’s opposed to the resolution because it “doesn’t make any reference to changing the momentum on the ground in Syria” and it also fails to arm the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group fighting the Assad regime there. The Arizona Republican indicated that several other senators share his misgivings about the resolution.

Although he left the door open to voting against the Syria resolution, McCain suggested Tuesday at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that it would send a "seriously bad message" if Congress voted against taking military action. On Monday, McCain said it would be "catastrophic" if Congress failed to pass the resolution.
Ah yes, this is the old John McCain that all of us know and few of us love. If I were to boil this position down to one cogent point, it would be that McCain opposes this resolution precisely because it’s carefully drafted to avoid mission creep and escalation into all-out war. The resolution deals strictly with chemical weapons and McCain desperately wants us to join in the fighting with the rebels because that’s what John McCain does — if there’s a war going someplace without American involvement, McCain feels sad and left out, like the only kid not invited to a birthday party.

Of course, McCain’s dissatisfaction is the equivalent of the Peace-Lover’s Seal of Approval. Greg Sargent points out that “McCain refusing to support limited use of force resolution makes it easier for liberals and Dems to support it.” Politics is much more the art of the kneejerk contrarian than the art of the possible these days.

It’s tempting to suspect that this is McCain’s strategy to get more people on board with military action, but his reported unhappiness with the resolution is just so John McCain. He’s opposing the current draft because it’s not an open declaration of all-out war, not because he’s playing chess. He’s wanted to join in with the rebels for a very long time and if any action isn’t specifically designed to aid the rebels and topple Assad, McCain has no use for it.

McCain probably will vote for this in the end, but only because he’s settling for what, in his eyes, is the only possible alternative to doing nothing.

[photo via NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan]

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