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March 3, 2014 5:45 pm

At AIPAC, Senator McCain Slams Obama’s Foreign Policy

avatar by Joshua Levitt

U.S. Senator John McCain speaking at 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference, on March 3, 2014. Photo: Screenshot.

U.S. Senator John McCain speaking at 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference, on March 3, 2014. Photo: Screenshot.

U.S. Senator John McCain on Monday tore into the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama for its refusal to intervene in Syria last year and for fecklessness on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week. McCain also addressed in strong terms what he believes the U.S. must do to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.

Speaking to a favorable crowd at the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference, in Washington, D.C., McCain said, “What happens in Ukraine is directly related to what happens in the Middle East, and we obviously know what happens in the Middle East is vital to the existence of the State of Israel.”

McCain said Russia’s occupation of the Crimea, in the Ukraine, is “a blatant act on the part of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and one that must be unacceptable to the world community; it can not stand.”

Rather than agree with the U.S. line so far on Ukraine, that there are few options for the U.S. to take, McCain said, “the most powerful and biggest and strongest nation in the world should have plenty of options.”

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He suggested that the U.S. could take direct action against Putin’s regime by invoking the Magnitsky Act, formally, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4405), which could be used to block Russian officials seeking entrance to the U.S. and using U.S.-registered banks.

McCain said “those kleptocrats” would react if it meant “their last trip to Las Vegas.”

He said the lack of a firm stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the “ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength any more.”

He gave another example, from the Iranian student revolution in 2009, that was repressed by the Islamic Republic, in Tehran.

“In 2009… we saw a young woman named Neda bleed to death on the street in Tehran, and the people of Iran rose up and said, ‘Obama, Obama, are you with us? Or are you with them?'”

“You know what,” McCain said, “the President of the United States didn’t say a word. The President of the United States believes that the Cold War is over. That’s fine, it is over, but Putin doesn’t believe it’s over.”

McCain described Russia’s tentacles in Moldova, in the Baltic Nations and support of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al Assad as examples of its offenses as it pushes to establish and maintain its hegemony.

They helped “Bashar Assad slaughter tens of thousands of innocent people in cities and towns and countryside all over Syria. It is an outrage,” McCain said.

He said that while Putin is cooperating with the U.S. in the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons, meanwhile, “plane load after plane load of regular weapons, of artillery, of rockets, of tanks are landing at the airport in Damascus slaughtering innocent people.”

The Senator was equally vivid in his description of the impact of the international community’s distinction between chemical weapons and traditional weapons.

“It’s hard for a mother to differentiate whether their child has been killed by a chemical weapon or one of these horrible barrel bombs, that are basically cluster bombs that are being dropped on innocent civilians all over Syria, and we have sat by and watched it happen.”

“If Bashar Assad prevails, it will directly endanger the security of the state of Israel and this has now turned into a regional conflict.”

McCain asked the members of AIPAC in the audience what they thought the “5,000 Hezbollah fighters are going to be like when they return from the fighting in Syria to Southern Lebanon?”

“The whole situation cries out for American leadership, and I’m sorry to tell you it’s MIA [missing in action],” McCain told the AIPAC delegates who responded with applause.

McCain also spoke clearly on Iran, which he said, based on “recent events of the past five years,” was unlikely to believe that the U.S. is serious in its resolve to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“I believe the Iranian people can have access to peaceful, civilian nuclear energy, but that doesn’t require an industrial uranium enrichment program, it doesn’t require a heavy water reactor, it doesn’t require advanced centrifuges, and it certainly doesn’t require nuclear facilities dug deep in the mountains,” McCain said. He was thanked with a standing ovation.

McCain said, “It’s not an arms control challenge. The Iran Revolutionary Guard is in Syria slaughtering people today, they are training these extremists and they will not quit.”

“This regime in Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terror,” he said. “It has murdered Americans, Israelis and Jews across the globe. It is categorically devoted to the destruction of the State of Israel. It is training and arming militant groups across the Middle East. It’s destabilizing its neighbors and meddling in their affairs. It’s developing sophisticated ballistic missiles, including ICBMs, that could target America.”

McCain said Obama’s treatment of Ukraine, Syria, and Iran should also speak to what it means to be an American today: “If we’re not going to take action when an anti-American, anti-Semitic tyrant gasses 1,400 innocent people to death, what does it say to about us?”

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