- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2013

President Obama has invited two of the Senate’s leading Republican voices on foreign military affairs to the White House as he tries to make his case to Congress for the use of military force in Syria.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Sunday that he and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have been invited to  the White House on Monday. The two issued a joint statement Saturday saying that Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s purported use of chemical weapons requires a military response from the United States.

“However, we cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the President’s stated goal of Assad’s removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests,” the statement read.

Mr. McCain said Sunday he doesn’t know whether an authorization for the use of military force would pass Congress.

“We’re in a bit of a dilemma here, because I think Senator Lindsey Graham and I and others will be wanting a strategy, a plan, rather than just — are we going to launch some cruise missiles and that’s it?” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We need to have a strategy and a plan.”

Mr. McCain said he was aware of the signal Congress would send the world if they overrode the president’s wish to use military force. He spoke to Mr. Obama on Saturday and said that he would be “happy” to come to the White House, but that the situation in Syria has been “shameful.”

SEE ALSO: Some GOP lawmakers skeptical Congress will OK military force in Syria

Support from Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham could be crucial in winning broader Republican backing in the Senate, especially with more libertarian-leaning members such as Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, already expressing even greater skepticism about the case for intervention.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said on ABC’s “This Week” he’s confident that the two friends and frequent allies will come around.

“I’ve talked to John McCain and Lindsey Graham; [I] talked to Lindsey yesterday. They’re good friends of mine, and I respect them both,” Mr. Kerry said.” “And I am convinced that we can find a common ground here with them and others so that they’re convinced that the strategy that’s in place will, in fact, help the opposition, that there will be additional pressure and at the same time that this is not just an isolated pinprick but something that can have a profound impact on Assad’s ability to use these weapons which he has been using and will use again if we don’t do something about it, and I think they will come to that conclusion.” 

“I don’t think they will want to vote, ultimately, to put Israel at risk and to not enforce the message with respect to other interests in the world, but most importantly, I think they can be and will be satisfied that a strategy is in place in order to help the opposition and to change the dynamics of what is happening in Syria,” Mr. Kerry continued.


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