WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asserted to applause this morning at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington that the Obama administration’s leadership in the world is “MIA.”
McCain lauded the crowd as “trying to do the Lord’s work in the city of Satan.”
“What happens in Ukraine is directly related to what happens in the Middle East and obviously we know that what happens in the Middle East is vital to the existence of the state of Israel,” he said. “…And now, now that the Olympics are over, immediately afterwards, we now see the occupation of Crimea. And by the way, in case you missed it, one of the reasons why there’s a majority population of Russians in Crimea is because Stalin exported all the Tartars, over half of them were killed, as he deported them from the Crimea. But the fact is, that this is a blatant act on the part of Vladimir Putin and one that must be unacceptable to the world community. It cannot stand.”
The senator pointed to a broad array of options the U.S. has to respond, including the expansion of the Magnitsky Act previously passed by Congress against human-rights violators in Russia.
“Why do we care? Because this is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength any more,” he said to a reaction of applause.
“In 2009, many of you may remember, as we saw on YouTube, we saw a young woman named Neda bleed to death in the street in Tehran when the people of Iran rose up and said, ‘Obama, Obama — are you with us or are you — are you with us or are you with them?’ And you know what, the president of the United States didn’t say a word,” McCain continued. “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. He doesn’t believe that this is a zero-sum game. Look at Moldova. Look at the occupation of Georgia. Look at the pressure on the Baltic nations.”
“Look at what they’re doing in assisting Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people in cities and towns and countryside all over Syria… What do you think is going to happen if Bashar al-Assad continues to prevail, as far as the other nations in the region are concerned? Jordan, probably our best friend, is destabilized. The whole situation cries out for American leadership and I’m sorry to tell you it’s MIA.”
McCain quipped that one of his “favorites” is “tell Vladimir that I’ll be more flexible when I’m reelected. Tell Vladimir I’ll be more flexible when I’m reelected?”
He called Obama’s red line “a seminal moment, when the president of the United States says that that president’s going to take military action and does not, that sends a message all the way around the globe, as far away as China.”
“If we’re not willing to take action when an anti-American, anti-Semitic tyrant gasses 1,400 innocent people to death, what does it say about us?”
McCain responded to Americans who say they are “weary of war.”
“Do you know how many times in history that’s been said? Do you know how many times prior to World War II, when Hitler marched into the Sudetenland and when Neville Chamberlain said we’re not going to fight in a faraway country for people that don’t speak our language and we don’t know?” he said. “My friends, the lessons of history are that we have to be ready. And as Ronald Reagan used to say, peace through strength, not through weakness and not through cutting our defense budget back to the smallest army that we’ve had since prior to World War II.”
The senator quipped that he’s “been around a long time. In fact, since the Coolidge administration.”
“But I would say to you, I have never seen this world in need of strong American leadership more than it is today. And I believe the events of these — these negotiations with Iran, which I hope to succeed but I doubt, when I see the slaughter in Syria, when I see the Chinese asserting themselves in Asia, when I see in response, cuts — significant cuts in foreign aid and also in our Defense budget, I’m worried.”