He was fatally wrong then.
Just as wrong in 2003 was Senator John McCain, another enthusiastic booster of the Bush administration's lying the country into war. Now the Arizona Republican is not only eager for America to take unilateral military action, he's busy blaming the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, for not being an equally avid warmonger.
The Senator takes offense at a general's prudence
McCain is mad at Gen. Dempsey for his answer to an inquiry from New York Cong. Eliot Engel, a Democrat, who wondered what might be the best course to pursue in Syria. The general's rational and careful response on August 19 said, in part:
"We can destroy the Syrian Air Force. The loss of Assad's
Air Force would negate his ability to attack opposition forces from the air,
but it would also escalate and potentially further commit the United States to
the conflict. Stated another way, it would not be militarily decisive, but it
would commit us decisively to the conflict. In a variety of ways, the use of US
military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the
underlying and historic ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling
"Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not".
"I believe we can assist in the humanitarian crisis on a far more significant scale. We could, if asked to do so, significantly increase our effort to develop a moderate opposition. Doing so, in combination with expanded capacity-building efforts with regional partners and a significant investment in the development of a moderate Syrian opposition, represents the best framework for an effective U.S. strategy toward Syria going forward."
Outraged by this almost non-military posture, McCain claimed that it was Gen. Dempsey's fault that Syria used chemical weapons. According to McCain, "General Dempsey has to be embarrassed," because his letter opened the door to chemical weapons:
"Dempsey made an incredible illogical statement and then a few days later we saw a massive use of chemical weapons. I'm sure that Bashar al-Assad paid attention to the top military man in America's words that we were not going to get involved".
I would expect Assad to continue to use these weapons. And other Assads around the world will now not hesitate to use these weapons and sooner or later they may be used against Americans."
Senator McCain embraces the fallacy of post hoc ergo propeter hoc
So McCain is also blaming the general for future war crimes committed by others, using his own illogical argument. McCain argues that the letter that preceded the use of chemical weapons therefore caused the use of chemical weapons -- an elementary logical fallacy. But it's also obviously nonsense, since chemical weapons were used in Syria before the letter as well.
And McCain has yet to object to his country's 20 years of using depleted Uranium weapons on mostly defenseless targets.
Not to be left off the public hysteria bandwagon, Vice President Joe Biden, who offered no more evidentiary support for his claims than any of the other manly blitherers, told a Texas audience:
"There is no doubt who was responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria--the Syrian regime--for we know that the Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons, have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons."
Little of the Biden riff is demonstrably true, but then he added an outright lie about the Syrian government, accusing it of not cooperating with UN inspectors: "the government has repeatedly shelled the sites of the attack and blocked the investigation for five days."
The truth is that the UN delivered its inspection request on Saturday, August 24. The Syrian government approved the request on Sunday. The inspection team went to work on Monday.