Tuesday, September 10, 2013
So it appears that Secretary of State John Kerry's off-the-cuff suggestion that Syria turn over its chemical weapons has been embraced, at least temporarily, by Syria, Russia, the United States and other world powers.
Sen. John McCain, however, still wants to go forward with a vote to authorize the use of force—which is kind of odd, given that it looked as if Congress would shoot down the idea of launching missiles.
McCain's statement yesterday:
It should be clear to Members of Congress that only the threat of military action against the Assad regime’s chemical weapons capabilities is what could create a possibility for Assad to give up control of those weapons. For this reason, Congress should proceed with its plans to consider and vote on the authorization for use of force that is now before the Senate, and today’s development should make Members of Congress more willing to vote yes. This will give the President additional leverage to press Russia and Syria to make good on their proposal to take the weapons of mass destruction out of Assad’s hands.
At the same time, all of us need to be realistic about this situation. We should not trust, and we must verify. The only credible way for the Obama Administration to test this proposal is to immediately introduce a U.N. Security Council Resolution that spells out in clear, detailed terms exactly what the international community should expect of the Assad regime if it is serious about abandoning its weapons of mass destruction — weapons that it does not even admit to possessing at this point. Such a resolution must include specific requirements for immediate and intrusive inspections, unfettered international access to every site and suspected site in Syria possessing any weapons of mass destruction, guarantees for secure freedom of movement for all international inspectors, immediate steps by Assad to begin transferring his weapons of mass destruction to international custody, and clear consequences and triggers for action if obligations are not met by a time certain, among other commitments. Most importantly, this resolution must be presented as a take-it-or-leave-it offer and agreed to within a week at the Security Council, or else we run the risk that Russia and Syria will use this gambit as a way to play for time and continue the massacre of innocent men, women, and children in Syria.
This morning on CBS News, McCain appeared resigned to the fact that any missile strikes would have to be delayed:
Despite his longtime support for military intervention, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that Congress will have to delay consideration of a military strike on Syria in order to let the possibility of a U.N. resolution aimed at forcing Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program to "play out."
The Republican senator emphasized that he is "extremely skeptical" that the compromise will rule out a strike and defended his support of U.S. involvement, telling "CBS this Morning" that the momentum around military action likely added to the development of the proposed resolution.
"Perhaps this would not have come about if it hadn't been for the threat of a military strike," McCain said. "So there is some credibility to that course of action."
"I'm very skeptical [about the efficacy of the resolution]," McCain said, "because Bashar Assad has refused to acknowledge that he even has chemical weapons."