Sen. John McCain had supportive words for President Donald Trump on Friday after the US launched missile strikes against Syrian government targets in response to a chemical weapons attack inside the country days earlier.
But the Arizona senator and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee warned that it would do little for the war-torn region.
“Don’t expect one strike to one airfield one time to knock out a country’s air force,” McCain said in a CNN interview Friday.
“We’ve been bombing ISIS for years,” he said, referring to US coalition air strikes throughout Syria and Iraq.
Indeed, the dozens of cruise missiles launched from two US Navy ships reportedly did little to hamper Syria’s air operations, as Syrian forces took off from the targeted airfield hours later.
When asked whether the US should send ground troops to Syria, McCain said Assad “will not be overthrown by American troops.” He said only a trained, well-equipped free Syrian army would prevail.
“The only reason why Bashar Assad is in power today is because of Russia and Iran — certainly not because of Syrians,” McCain said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a staunch ally to Assad, and Russia became more involved on his behalf in 2015, tipping the scales in favour of Assad’s government. The civil war roiling Syria has been ongoing for six years.
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer appeared to strike a nerve with a question about Sen. Rand Paul’s statement on the US missile strikes. Paul criticised Trump’s move to strike, saying “the United States was not attacked,” and reminding the commander-in-chief of his obligation to consult with Congress about military actions, adding that previous US interventions in the region “have done nothing to make us safer.”
McCain dismissed Paul, a former presidential candidate and frequent voice of opposition, out of hand.
“He doesn’t have any real influence in the United States Senate,” McCain said.
Watch a portion of McCain’s interview below:
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