McCain slams Trump’s Syria policy as a ‘disgraceful chapter in American history’

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Gabby Kaufman
·Reporter
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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in January. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in January. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

After a gas attack reportedly killed dozens of civilians in Syria Tuesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took on President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, calling the United States’ failure to intervene a “disgraceful chapter in American history.”

“We’ve seen this movie before,” McCain said on CNN’s “New Day,” referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s numerous attacks on his own people with chemical weapons, including one after President Barack Obama declared such attacks a “red line” that would warrant U.S. military action.

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McCain, a longtime advocate of arming Syrian rebels and removing Assad from power, also barbed Tillerson, who recently said whether Assad will stay in power “will be decided by the Syrian people.” McCain called that remark “one of the more incredible statements I’ve ever heard,” echoing a fiery statement he released previously.

“Syrian people cannot decide the fate of Assad or the future of their country when they are being slaughtered by Assad’s barrel bombs, Putin’s aircraft and Iran’s terrorist proxies,” McCain said Thursday. “U.S. policy must reflect such basic facts.”

Calling Assad “one of the great brutal dictators in history,” McCain emphasized that leaving the Syrian president in power would contradict the United States’ duty to spread democracy throughout the world.

“These are war crimes on the scale … almost unmatched since Nazi Germany or Pol Pot.”

Although McCain expressed “confidence” in the Trump administration’s national security team, he lamented what he said was a lack of conviction in America’s policy toward the Syrian civil war.

“I don’t see any doctrine right now,” he said.

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