Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) tore into President Obama Tuesday for his lack of leadership on Syria and the disastrous execution of the $500 million program to train Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State terrorist organization.
In his opening statement during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about U.S. Middle East Strategy, McCain said Obama was acting like the "opposite" of a commander-in-chief.
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In September, CENTCOM commander Gen. Lloyd Austin III testified "four or five" rebels in the program were still fighting in Syria, or roughly $100 million per fighter. However, the White House tried to shed responsibility, claiming Obama had thought all along it was a poor idea and that through the program's failure he was vindicated in that initial judgment, the New York Times reported.
"The president now says, incredibly, the failure of his program, his program, the president's program, proves he was right for not wanting to do it in the first place," McCain said. "Harry Truman must be spinning in his grave. If there is an opposite for commander-in-chief, this is it."
McCain appeared to be dinging Obama over Truman's famous mantra, "The buck stops here."
McCain also added Obama should never have expressed surprise about the "predictable" failure of the program.
"It was not a surprise," McCain said. "It was completely predictable, and many of us here did predict it. Only someone who does not understand the real problem, which is the underlying conflict in Syria and Iraq, or does not care to, could think that we could effectively recruit and train large numbers of Sunni Syrians to fight only against ISIL, with no promise of coalition assistance if they came under fire from Assad's forces."
McCain added in his opening that the train-and-equip program was another example of the administration addressing the symptoms of an underlying problem, rather than the root of the problem itself.