After the invasion of Iraq there was much talk among conservatives about invading Syria. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell was heavily criticized for taking a trip to Syria to talk to its leadership. Newt Gingrich said, "The concept of the American secretary of state going to Damascus to meet with a terrorist-supporting, secret-police-wielding dictator is ludicrous."
What did John McCain have to say about the trip? Despite the fact that John McCain believed that Syria was a "state sponsor of terror," was "harboring terrorists," and were sending "Syrians in to fight Americans," he thought it was worth talking to them, saying that Powell's trip was "appropriate." (See below)
McCain is directly contradicting himself by attacking Senator Obama on his plan to confront Iran at the negotiating table. A pattern is emerging. While McCain claims to be a deep foreign policy thinker with positions carefully developed from his quarter century in Washington, the reality seems to be that his positions - when not outright crazy - are often knee-jerk and contradictory - often dictated by what his temperament is at that moment or influenced by how the political winds are moving.
Here are the transcripts:
McCain on Chris Matthews said on April 23, 2003"We know the Syrians allowed, or sent Syrians in to fight Americans." But McCain said that:
"I think it's appropriate that Colin Powell is going there...
MCCAIN: You know, Dick -- Richard Armitage is Powell's deputy. And he's a wonderful guy. He served in Vietnam. And he's a really tough guy. And he was quoted someplace today that Newt Gingrich is out of therapy.
Five days earlier on the Today Show on April 18th, McCain said the same thing. When asked how he would proceed with Syria - a country that he believed to be a state-sponsor of terrorism - McCain said he would talk first.
LAUER: They have denied possessing weapons of mass destruction, they've also denied harboring any senior members of the Iraqi leader. The US administration says they have evidence to the contrary. How would you proceed with that situation?
Mr. McCAIN: I think it's very appropriate that Colin Powell is going to Syria. I think we should put diplomatic and other pressures on them. It's also a time for Mr. Asad Bashar to realize that he should be more like his father was. I think he's too heavily influenced by a lot of the radical Islamic elements and--and militant groups.
LAUER: Do you think Syria meets the criteria set forth by the president in his post-9/11 address to Congress that they pose an imminent threat to the US in that they are either sponsoring or harboring terrorists?
Mr. McCAIN: I think they're--they're sponsoring and harboring terrorists. I think they have been occupying Lebanon, which should be free and independent for a long time, but I don't think that that means that we will now resort to the military action. We--we can apply a lot of pressure other than military--than the military action. So what I'm saying, we're a long way away from it.
LAUER: Under what circumstances--under what circumstances would you back military action?
Mr. McCAIN: When we've exhausted all other options. And we have a lot of options to--to exercise. And I'm glad Colin Powell's going there, but the Syrians have got to understand there's a new day in the Middle East.