Jan 21 2015

Graham, McCain Statement on President Obama's State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released the following statement regarding President Obama's State of the Union Address this evening:

"We are pleased that President Obama addressed a number of issues on which Republicans and Democrats can work together in the coming year. The President rightfully underscored the importance of free trade to bolster American economic competitiveness around the world. And in the wake of recent cyberattacks, we are eager to work with the President and our colleagues in Congress to pass much-needed cybersecurity legislation.

"However, on critical national security issues, President Obama's speech tonight was an unfortunate demonstration of how strategically listless his Administration now is.

"The President's pronouncement of a ‘smarter kind of American leadership' must be puzzling to any American who has watched the news in the past six years. The Middle East is in tumult, and a wave of terrorist threats is gathering new momentum. Russia has dismembered a sovereign European state. China's assertiveness continues to rattle American allies in Asia. Taliban attacks are increasing as the President continues his calendar-based withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"American leadership is clearly not ‘smarter' under President Obama - it is dangerously absent.

"Nowhere is this clearer than with respect to the crisis in Iraq and Syria. President Obama's speech tonight was further evidence of the shameful lack of a coherent Administration strategy to achieve his stated goal of degrading and ultimately destroying the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Despite the President's claims of progress in the campaign against ISIS, this terrorist army continues to gain thousands of recruits and now controls significantly more territory in Syria than when U.S. airstrikes began there six months ago.

"In September 2014, President Obama referred to Yemen as a model for the campaign against ISIS. And yet, Al-Qaeda continues to use Yemen to facilitate global terrorism, as we saw in the barbaric attacks in Paris. And now, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are pushing Yemen to the brink of collapse. If the President uses the same failed strategy in Syria that he holds up as a model in Yemen, we can expect the same results: a failed state, reduced American influence, and more safe havens for violent Islamic extremists committed to attacking America and our allies.

"America needs and deserves more than wordplay and half measures dressed up as ‘smart' leadership. America needs a reality-based national security strategy, and the resources and resolve to see it through.

"But no strategy can succeed under the mindless mechanism of sequestration. President Obama's own military commanders have repeatedly warned of the strategic folly of cutting $1 trillion from our national defense at a time when threats to our security continue to multiply. However, the President failed tonight even to mention sequestration, the damage it has already done to our military capabilities and readiness, and the dangerous vulnerabilities it will create if it is not rolled back. Sadly, on this vital issue, as on so many others, the leadership of our commander in chief is nowhere to be seen."