Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Loose Cannon

Just what we don't need -- more freelance diplomacy. This time, it's John McCain, going maverick:
Leaders of Syria's opposition forces got a chance to make their case for increased U.S. support directly with Sen. John McCain when he slipped into that country for a surprise visit.
McCain, R-Ariz., favors providing arms to rebel forces in Syria. 
A State Department official said the department was aware of McCain crossing into Syrian territory Monday, but referred further questions to McCain's office. McCain spokeswoman Rachel Dean confirmed the Monday trip, but declined further comment.
Last time I checked, Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. As such, he and his administration have the right and the responsibility to set and direct U.S. foreign policy. I further understand that McCain lost the election to Obama some five years ago now.

Congress has a role to play in foreign policy to the extent that it controls the public purse. Certainly individual congresscritters can go on fact-finding missions and meet with representatives of foreign countries on a wide variety of issues. This is different. Syria is in the middle of a vicious civil war and it's unclear at best that there are any "good guys" involved in the conflict. Maybe John McCain can figure out who the good guys are, but I tend to doubt he understands matters any better than the folks at State do. At a minimum, he might consider sharing his wisdom with the Obama administration instead of going it alone. My suggestion would be that he go home and butt out.


Brad said...

If you recall McCain's speech last August at the RNC, he essentially said it's America's responsibility to ensure liberty and security pretty much wherever there's Syria-like tumult.

I'm the furthest thing from a Ron Paul zombie but even I feel that is totally impractical.

Brian said...

It's as though the last decade and change didn't even happen as far as John McCain is concerned.

Anonymous said...

Is it John Jackson, or Jesse McCain? I'm extremely confused!

Mr. D said...


I'd argue that McCain's conduct is worse than anything Jackson has done. Jackson may be a meddler and a fool, but he's a private citizen and doesn't speak for the federal government. McCain is a different case, because he is a national political figure with a role in the government. And unless Barack Obama or John Kerry sent him to Syria, he's directly interfering with the conduct of the nation's foreign policy.

Bike Bubba said...

Although I can see (Benghazi debacle anyone?) how McCain, for all his faults, might have a better handle on this than the Obama administration, I'd agree this can be profoundly unhelpful.

Senator Rodman?

Not quite sure who to favor in this one. Dictator aligned with Hezbollah using chemical weapons on one side, other Islamist groups practicing all kinds of barbarities on the other. If it wasn't for civilians, I'd say let them have it out and hope for lots of casualties on both sides.

Brian said...

The good guys in Syria are the secular liberals. Both of them.

First Ringer said...

The entire conflict in Syria reminds me of the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s - can't both sides lose?

I think perhaps the "best" possible outcome is Assad prevailing, only to be overthrown by his military once the threat of the Islamist resistance has ceased or at least significantly faded.

Is that likely? No. Can that outcome by influenced by outside forces? Maybe, but I doubt by the US. Perhaps one of Syria's major allies - Russia or Iran - will push for such a move, making Assad the modern equivalent of Ngo Dinh Diem.