News

Lawmakers Debate US Military Intervention in Syria

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 7, 2012, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the crisis in Syria and the risks for U.S. involvement.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 7, 2012, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the crisis in Syria and the risks for U.S. involvement.
Michael Bowman

U.S. defense officials are resisting calls from some lawmakers for American military intervention in Syria to end bloodletting and hasten the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

Echoing President Barack Obama a day earlier, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta argued against a rush to launch military strikes against Syrian government forces. Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Syria’s bloody suppression of its people must and will end, but added the following: “Unfortunately, this terrible situation has no simple answers," he said.

The hearing featured a long, tense exchange between Panetta and Republican Senator John McCain, who urged prompt U.S.-led air strikes against the Syrian military. McCain reminded the defense secretary of the Obama administration’s stated policy of preventing mass atrocities.

Senator McCain: “Would you agree that mass atrocities have occurred and are occurring in Syria?”
Secretary Panetta: “I do not think there is any question that we are experiencing mass atrocities there.”
Senator McCain: “How many more have to die? Ten thousand more? Twenty thousand more? How many more?”

Secretary Panetta responded that, unless the United States acts unilaterally, something President Obama has ruled out, important groundwork must be laid before a military campaign can go forward. “We have to build a multi-lateral coalition. We have got to be able to work at that. It is not that easy. Can it happen today, can it happen now? No, it is going to take some work. It is going to take some time. But when we do it, we will do it right," he said.

Independent Senator Joe Lieberman argued time is running short. “I think if we do not get the international community together in a ‘coalition of the willing’ soon, we are going to look back and say we not only did not do the right thing morally to stop innocents from being killed, we missed an extraordinary strategic opportunity to strengthen our position and the position of free people in the Middle East," he said.

Also testifying was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey. Dempsey said the United States could help enforce a no-fly zone over Syria and distribute humanitarian assistance. He said Syria possesses five times the air defense capability that Libya had last year, protecting roughly one-fifth as much territory. The general also noted Syria possesses far greater stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Alves Tahir Naqqash
March 14, 2012 2:41 PM
I think that the unique country that has interest in helping the Syrian people is US. The other countries are not worried if the people is being killed or not. Some of these countries use excuses such as: oh, no, Syria is a sovereign country and we cannot intervene in it. But the true is: they are not worried if the people is being massacred or not. They are worried only with they economies. I'm Brazilian, but I like the US policy. God bless US and help to save this contries ruled by dictators.

by: Lebanese Sunni Man
March 08, 2012 11:04 PM
God bless the Free Syrian Army. God bless the United States. Please save Syria from Bashar al-Assad. The entire Arab world will be pro-US if it intervenes to save the Syrian people. As we speak hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children are being murdered, raped, tortured, and imprisoned.

by: Make peace or kill yourselves from Israel to Iran. Get your own house in order.
March 08, 2012 3:38 PM
Where was Lieberman/ McCain during the many African atrocities? For them this is a proxy war to promote another agenda - dressed up as a human rights. Assad must go but why must western soldiers die for this? In Europe many died in ww2 - Israel talks holocaust but 90 million + others died. Where is Europe now? North Americans are expected to bleed and then be spit upon.NO MORE.

by: Cuwan al-Muhsin
March 08, 2012 12:48 AM
It is unfortunate that your family is not in Syria, WJP.

by: Somalia man
March 07, 2012 8:11 PM
Let the repels be punished and destroyed, who gives USA the right to overthrown Syrian Presidents, they have no right, USA and its evil allies destroyed Libya where still there is no functional government.

My God Safe Al Asad and the Syrian People from the Western Evil Powers.

by: Russ
March 07, 2012 7:11 PM
This is A Very,Very Good example of Obama's Failed foriegn policies! He is Reckless with our national Sercurity! Defense secretary of the Obama administration’s stated policy of preventing mass atrocities.

by: Igor
March 07, 2012 5:09 PM
Republican Senator John McCain is a dishonest man. In fact heis trying to persude Obama administration to begin the war in Syria and then sink into it so the Rebublican will win the president election. To him peace inSyria or the fate of US soldiers are nothing.

by: Oyajy
March 07, 2012 3:11 PM
If you Americans really believe in your own values and as the most powerful country you must help us, it is a single side war, massacre, epic and shame on the world to watch it, if you really believe that God is blessing you not devil does, so it is you responsibility to relief us, the history is being wrote and if you do not do your move it will be the 21th century scandal and your responsibility will be brushed away soon.
BR for Mr. MacCain

by: John Bird
March 07, 2012 12:42 PM
This is a must win war for US, West and Israel. This is not merely the Syrian people looking up to the world to help them be free from 50 years of a dictatorship rule by Assad family.

If this is the case, then did we ask ourselves why Iran, Hezbollah, Russia, Venezuela and China are supporting the Syrian regime? There is no oil in Syria, right? Then why?

by: domingo
March 07, 2012 9:25 AM
Let the Arabs, including the Turks decide what options or plans they have to resolves the crises in Syria, let them led but the USA should support them if asked including military assistance.
Comments page of 2
    Next 

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