Today John McCain told reporters that Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for Omar Mateen’s terrorist attack in Orlando:
“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq,” a visibly angry McCain told reporters in the Capitol as the Senate debated a spending bill.
“So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies,” McCain said.
Questioned on his startling assertion, McCain repeated it: “Directly responsible. Because he pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked and there would be attacks on the United States of America. It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.”
Democrats responded predictably:
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said McCain’s “unhinged comments are just the latest proof that Senate Republicans are puppets of Donald Trump.”
Talk about unhinged!
The Weekly Standard says that McCain subsequently issued a clarification that did not materially retreat from his initial assertion:
I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible,” he said. “I was referring to President Obama’s national security decision, not the President himself. As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL. I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.
The case certainly can be made that Obama’s disgraceful decision to withdraw prematurely from Iraq, which he seems to have taken mostly out of spite, was the key factor that allowed ISIS to become a force in the region. My own view is that the only persons “directly responsible” for Mateen’s mass murders are Mateen and those radical Muslims who inspired him. But it is easy to sympathize with McCain’s frustration, and, while he may have overstated the case, it is good to see a Republican going hard after Obama’s foreign policy failures.