Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) blasted the White House for what he characterized as a “total lack of leadership” in Syria. But while McCain has been a consistent voice attacking the administration’s handling of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his criticisms fail to acknowledge the efforts made by the Obama administration to assist the Syrian rebels or offer any meaningful policy suggestions. McCain said:
MCCAIN: The United States behavior so far has been shameful and disgraceful. [...] The President of the United States should be speaking out for the people of Syria. Second of all we should get arms to them so we can balance the forces. [...] We need to establish a sanctuary so that [the rebels] can organize, they can resist, and they can prevail.
Watch the clip:
Noticeably, McCain offers no details about how his laundry-list of increasingly provocational acts should be implemented. And when McCain says the Obama administration needs to be “working with countries in the region,” he ignores that fact that that’s exactly what it is doing.
The concrete steps taken by the Obama administration, working with allies, to hasten Assad’s departure include: logistics and communications assistance to the rebels; consulting on arms sales; gathering intelligence on the numerous rebel groups; and providing technological aid and training.
While McCain is dismissive of the Obama administration for its efforts to build an international coalition against Bashar al-Assad, recent news indicates that progress on the ground might be forthcoming. This weekend, the New York Times confirmed that Syrian Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass — a Sunni confidant of Bashar al-Assad, defected and “at least one deputy minister and 15 generals, all of them Sunnis, have defected to Turkey.”
This morning, U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan told reporters he had held constructive talks with Assad and “agreed to an approach” to end the violence and the Russian government announced it will not deliver Yak-130 fighter planes to Syria while the situation there remains “unresolved.”