News

Influential US Senator Calls for Air Strikes on Syria

Senator John McCain talks to reporters on Capitol Hill, March 5, 2012.
Senator John McCain talks to reporters on Capitol Hill, March 5, 2012.
Michael Bowman

An influential U.S. senator is calling for U.S.-led military intervention in Syria to stem the slaughter of civilians, assist rebels, and hasten the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad. Republican John McCain of Arizona, who was President Barack Obama’s opponent in the 2008 election, made an impassioned plea for air strikes in Syria, with or without U.N. authorization.

Senator McCain condemned the continuing bloodshed in Syria, and blasted the Obama administration’s assertion that President Assad’s departure from power is inevitable.

“Nothing in this world is predetermined, and claims about the inevitability of events can often be a convenient way to abdicate responsibility," said McCain. "But even if we do assume that Assad will ultimately fall, that may still take a really long time.”

McCain said the Syrian government serves as a “forward operating base” of Iran and a direct backer of international terrorism. He said President Assad has Syrian blood on his hands, as well as that of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq by foreign infiltrators who entered the country through Syria.

The senator argued that current U.S. policy is inadequate and that a new, more aggressive policy is needed. He said military intervention is consistent with the Obama administration’s stated policy of preventing mass atrocities.

“The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through air strikes on Assad’s forces," he said. "To be clear, this will require the United States to suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country.”

Last month, the Obama administration said it still supports a political resolution of the crisis. But it said the Assad government's assault on the Syrian people is "heinous and unforgivable" and will require the United States to evaluate its approach "as time goes on." State Department officials have confidently predicted Mr. Assad’s ouster, but have said a transition in Syria could be long and difficult.

Senator McCain said the United States should partner with allies in the Arab world as well as NATO to establish safe havens in Syria for anti-Assad forces as well as for the delivery of humanitarian and military supplies.

He noted that U.N. action toward Syria has been stymied by Russia and China, but he argued that the United Nations need not give its blessing for a military campaign to go forward.

“Let us not forget: NATO took military action to save Kosovo in 1999 without formal U.N. authorization," said McCain. "There is no reason why the Arab League or NATO or a leading coalition within the ‘Friends of Syria’ contact group could not provide a similar international mandate for military measures to save Syria today.”

McCain acknowledged that military intervention in Syria would entail significant risks. But he argued there are no perfect options when it comes to dealing with President Assad, only the opportunity to serve long-range U.S. interests by siding with Syrian government opponents.

Other senators have called for arming Syrian rebels, but so far have stopped short of calling for air strikes.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs