Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a frequent critic of President Trump, was critical of the administration’s approach to Syria as a “disgraceful chapter in American history.”
 
“We’ve seen this movie before,” McCain told CNN’s “New Day,” while speaking about revelations that Syria’s President Bashr al-Assad is responsible for yet another chemical weapons attack on his own people. He referred to Barack Obama who “did nothing” despite saying that such attacks would mean a “red line” that would bring about an American response.
 
Speaking to a recent statement by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said that Assad’s future “will be decided by the Syrian people,” McCain said the remark is “one of the more incredible statements I’ve ever heard.”
 
“Syrian people cannot decide the fate of Assad or the future of their country when they are being slaughtered by Assad’s barrel bombs, Putin’s aircraft and Iran’s terrorist proxies,” McCain said last week.  “U.S. policy must reflect such basic facts.”
 
McCain said that allowing Assad to remain in power betrays the U.S. commitment to spreading democracy. “These are war crimes on the scale … almost unmatched since Nazi Germany or Pol Pot.”
 
Even so, McCain said he has “confidence” in Trump’s national security advisors, but he remains critical of their policy towards the Syrian imbroglio. “I don’t see any doctrine right now,” he said.
 
McCain's criticisms came as news emerged that Syrian and Russian air forces dropped chemical weapons on civilians in the northern Idlib province of Syria. Independent sources put the death toll at 58, 11 of which were children. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that Trump is "extremely alarmed" by  the reports, which he deemed "reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world." Spicer put the blame on Barack Obama's "weakness and irresolution" after setting down a "red line" in Syria concerning weapons of mass destruction but then "did nothing" in the wake of previous chemical attacks in Syria.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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