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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.

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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.

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