Sen. John McCain was critical of President Obama’s foreign policy record this morning on “This Week,” saying that the administration has been “leading from behind” on the issue of Syria and its broader Middle East policy.
“How could we not stand up for these people? How could we sit by and watch this slaughter go on, while the president of the United States is totally silent,” McCain told Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper on the topic of Syria.
McCain criticized the president’s recent creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board—an executive board designed to monitor and defuse international threats and atrocities through diplomacy and intelligence—as the United States has not directly intervened in Syria.
“Thousands of people being massacred in the streets, and the president — I’m not making this up — goes to the Holocaust Museum, where we said never again, and says that he is setting up an Atrocities Prevention Board,” McCain said. “I’m not making that up. Instead of standing up for the people of Syria, who are — who are being massacred and slaughtered, tortured, rape—terrible.”
McCain also criticized the president for his handling of Iraq and his commitment to withdraw, saying that the country is unraveling while the president “keeps bragging about Iraq.”
“The whole situation is unraveling,” McCain said. “In the words of General Keane, the architect of the surge, we won the war and are losing the peace, thanks to the president’s commitment to get completely out.”
When asked about a remark from 2007 in which McCain suggested that Mitt Romney was naïve for saying that “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person” in reference to the hunt for Osama bin Laden, McCain offered a defense of the current presidential candidate.
“I think what Mitt was saying also, if you looked at the entire context of his remains, was that bin Laden was part of the overall war on terror and we shouldn’t just focus on that interview,” McCain said.
On the topic of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, McCain said that while there has been some mishandling of the diplomatic crisis, the top priority should be on getting Chen safely to the United States.
“It’s very clear that there were a number of missteps here, having him go to the hospital and then not allowing the American embassy people there, the back-and-forth,” McCain said. “The key now right now is to get him out of there and to the United States, that’s I think what we all ought to focus on.”
McCain avoided responding to Mitt Romney’s comments that the Obama administration may have intervened inappropriately in the diplomatic crisis.
Romney said Thursday that the administration “may have sped up the process” of Chen’s decision to leave the embassy, according to reports, and said that “if the reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama Administration.”