McCain: “Trump team partially to blame for chemical attacks in Syria”

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Speaking from Slovenia, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appeared on Face the Nation on Sunday to say that he supports President Trump’s retaliatory strike in Syria, calling it an “excellent first step and a reversal of the last eight years,” but he added that there has to be a “strategy to bring about peace in the region.”

Pointing out that chemical weapons kill only a small percentage of victims in Syria, McCain called for the cessation of other war crimes, including “barrel bombs, starving thousands of people in prisons, and strikes by Russians against hospitals in Alleppo.”

Recalling comments made prior to the Syrian chemical attack by members of the Trump administration regarding Assad’s status in Syria as “no longer a priority of the U.S.,” McCain said that such dismissive words may have played a role in the tragedy.

“I think it probably was partially to blame,” McCain said, reiterating the need for officials to come up with a strategy for Syria. “And Secretary Tillerson basically saying the same thing after kind of contradicting himself and then saying the same thing argues vigorously for a plan and a strategy.”

“You can’t just concentrate on ISIS,” cautioned McCain, adding, “we will take Mosul, we will take Raqqa, and we’d better have strategies as to how to handle those places once we have won it, but they’re not disconnected from Bashar al-Assad and al Qaeda and the war crimes that have been taking place.

McCain also stated that by polarizing the Syrian people, Assad has also given rise to ISIS and al Qaeda. “They’re both connected, and we need to address them both at the same time,” he said, suggesting a safe zone for refugees. “The president’s action was important, but now we’ve got to follow it up.”

McCain also brought up the fact that planes are again taking off from the Syrian air base that was struck on Friday, saying it was a bad sign. “The fact that they’re flying again of the same facility in 36 hours is not a good signal,” he said. “This  indicates we didn’t do as good a job as we could have.”

He said it also indicates the need for more action. “Just a one-time deal is not going to be productive,” said McCain, “And saying, ‘We are only going after chemical weapons areas,’ ignores the enormity of the problem.”

“The senate, like the nation has become much more polarized in recent years,” McCain observed, adding, “I’m not sure that’s good for America or our judiciary system.”

H/T: The Hill

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