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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs