Thursday, January 22, 2015

McCain to push for expanded Middle East response | |

McCain to push for expanded Middle East response | | In May 2013, Sen. John McCain caused a stir when he took the risky step of venturing briefly into war-torn Syria to meet with opposition leaders whom he and many other Western backers considered the best hope for toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Nearly two years later, 12 of the 15 Syrian commanders McCain met on the trip are dead, further proof in the senator's eyes of President Barack Obama's failed approach to the conflict spreading across the Middle East.

Now, as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain will have the opportunity to amplify his critique of Obama's handling of Iraq and Syria and, by doing so, test the panel's influence over military policy and operations.

"We are probably in the most serious period of turmoil in our lifetime," said the 78-year-old Republican from Arizona, whose control of the committee is the culmination of decades of tenacious advocacy for a muscular foreign policy. "Everything I've predicted, unfortunately, has come true, whether it be in Iraq or whether it be Syria."

McCain, speaking in a recent interview, sees no shortage of defects in the foreign policy record of the man who edged him out in 2008 to become commander in chief. Beyond the Middle East, McCain also has characterized Obama's response to the conflicts in Ukraine and Afghanistan as weak and inadequate.