McCain’s emotional references to Syria may simply be symptoms of being too trigger-happy, however. Following his keynote speech, a group of panelists shared their points of view on the Syrian struggle. Although four out of five agreed that American action must be taken, one panelist, Brian Fishman of the New America Foundation argued that he didn’t “see a lot of good outcomes” resulting of military action. In addition, he also addressed McCain’s reference to our allies in the region “crying for American leadership” by offering the rebuttal that these countries couldn’t agree on what would happen following the take-down of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad anyway. However, when asked if he had a “backup plan” to military interference, Fishman said that he did not.
With Obama’s call for Assad to “step down” nearly a year ago, it’s pretty clear what position the U.S. takes on this issue. But that’s the problem- this call was a year ago and not only has the administration done nothing to force its execution, but they have apparently forgotten their plan of action. According to panelist, David Schenker of the Washington Institute Near East Policy, as recently as June 7 of this year, Gen. Martin Dempsey declared that he could only form a strategy for Syria if he knew the desired outcome.
“When it comes to the Administration’s policy toward Syria, to say they are ‘leading from behind’ is too generous,” McCain said. “That suggests they are leading; they’re just behind.”
On the same day as the conference, Obama had a two-hour meeting with Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, to discuss the arms that Russia has been feeding to the Syrians. “We agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war,” Obama later said of the meeting.
With Syrian civil war being the ultimate tragedy that everyone fears, AEI conference panelist, Ammar Abdulhamid of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said simply: “Time is not on our side.”