McCain calls for airstrikes against Syria
March 5th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

McCain calls for airstrikes against Syria

Update – Our Senate Senior Producer Ted Barrett caught up with Sen. McCain after his floor speech:

CNN'S TED BARRETT: You are talking about U.S. pilots flying over Syria….


CNN'S TED BARRETT: Shooting at air defense systems?

SEN. MCCAIN: “I think we’d have to take out air defense systems.   We’re the only ones who can do that.  The war in Libya, we should have learned something from Libya.  It would have been over a lot earlier and thousands of casualties could have been prevented if the United States used the full weight of its air power.  Instead we decided to lead from behind, the conflict was extended unnecessarily, and thousands of Libyans were killed or wounded because of that.  Because of America’s failure to lead.”

CNN'S TED BARRETT: What are your thoughts about a war-wary public, coming off Iraq, coming off Afghanistan, to get behind yet another conflict.

SEN. MCCAIN:  “I think the Americans are justifiably and understandably war-wary.  But it has been a long tradition of the United States of America to help those who are having their basic human rights violated.  We did that in Bosnia; we did it in Kosovo in the nineties under a Democrat president, Bill Clinton.   There were some of us who fought very hard for that on the floor of the Senate and there was strong resistance to it.  We have an obligation, and that is not to stand by and watch bloodletting and massacre if there are steps we can take to prevent it.”

Update: A senior Pentagon official tells Barbara Starr: "The Secretary is interested in exploring options that could help end the brutal violence in Syria, but he also recognizes that this is an extremely complex crisis.  Intervention at this time could very well exacerbate problems inside the country."

Original post: Sen. John McCain is calling for the United States to begin airstrikes in Syria to "establish and defend" safe havens inside Syria where opposition forces could plan and organize their operations against the government forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

The established safe havens would also allow for the flow of humanitarian aid into the country McCain said.

From Senator McCain's prepared remarks for delivery on the Senate floor–

... the time has come for a new policy. As we continue to isolate Assad
diplomatically and economically, we should work with our closest friends
and allies to support opposition groups inside Syria, both political and
military, to help them organize themselves into a more cohesive and
effective force that can put an end to the bloodshed and force Assad and
his loyalists to leave power. Rather than closing off the prospects for
some kind of a negotiated transition that is acceptable to the Syrian
opposition, foreign military intervention is now the necessary factor to
reinforce this option. Assad needs to know that he will not win.

What opposition groups in Syria need most urgently is relief from
Assad's tank and artillery sieges in the many cities that are still
contested. Homs is lost for now, but Idlib, and Hama, and Qusayr, and
Deraa, and other cities in Syria could still be saved. But time is
running out. Assad's forces are on the march. Providing military
assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is
necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to
stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do
so is with foreign airpower.

Therefore, at the request of the Syrian National Council, the Free
Syrian Army, and Local Coordinating Committees inside the country, the
United States should lead an international effort to protect key
population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes
on Assad's forces. To be clear: This will require the United States to
suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country.

The ultimate goal of airstrikes should be to establish and defend safe
havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can
organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad.
These safe havens could serve as platforms for the delivery of
humanitarian and military assistance – including weapons and ammunition,
body armor and other personal protective equipment, tactical
intelligence, secure communications equipment, food and water, and
medical supplies. These safe havens could also help the Free Syrian Army
and other armed groups in Syria to train and organize themselves into
more cohesive and effective military forces, likely with the assistance
of foreign partners.

Filed under: McCain • Syria
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. stornobrzinol

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    May 13, 2021 at 4:05 pm | Reply

    I couldn’t resist commenting

    February 9, 2021 at 4:12 am | Reply
  3. frolep rotrem

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    February 1, 2021 at 1:58 am | Reply
  4. froleprotrem

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    January 23, 2021 at 2:14 am | Reply
  5. zortilo nrel

    Deference to article author, some fantastic selective information.

    December 22, 2020 at 4:18 am | Reply
  6. xebeche

    Now I am questioning sanity of those who voted for this f...g idiot last time. He has always been like this, is he? I mean Vietnamese did something principally wrong to him.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:49 am | Reply
  7. Tr1Xen

    I agree with you, Senator!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:45 am | Reply
  8. Lucia Barron

    Senator John Mc Cain, where were you when thousand were being slaughtered in Rawanda, Uganda and other parts of Africa? What about the thousands of Mexicans being slaughtered every year?? Is it lives your concerned about or is it the oil?? Why speak on behalf of the Syrian people and not the Africans or Mexicans??

    March 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  9. OregonTom

    Mr. McCain has had very bad luck with aircraft. Don't listen to him.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am | Reply
  10. chuckmartel

    McCain is an insane moron. Who cares if a bunch of wanabe Jew killing muslims kill each other? This demented cretin has a 90 degree vertical drop for a learning curve and is dangerously stupid. How do psycho imbeciles like this not only get elected but are also put in such important positions in the senate. Mob rule in action. Stupid masses, stupid elected officials.

    March 6, 2012 at 9:22 am | Reply
  11. michaelfury

    What's in your portfolio, Senator?

    March 6, 2012 at 7:38 am | Reply
  12. Ira

    Politics get in the way of a decision. When the President took a little time to have investigations made of who we were helping in Lybia he was critized for the delay by the Republicans. Then when our armed forces did a supurb job in that country the Republicans critized him for spending too much. You have Norwich that has gotten pledges from all Republicans that they will not agree to raise taxes for any reason – basically taking away all judgement that they might have on helping when we are already spending more than taxes are bringing in. So while it all sounds good for McCain to call to the press for us helping there is the fractured Republican party that even he can not influence into doing a good thing.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:16 am | Reply
  13. Gummikuh

    Take an old A-4 Skyhawk out of the boneyard at Davis Monthan AFB, spruce it up, strap the old war horse in it and tell him to take care of business. One last mission for the old loud mouth. Let him put his butt on the line instead of talking a good piece knowing he will be tucked in his own bed every night while younger men go off to die.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  14. TheLastIndependent

    Whoa, hold it, McCain. Now, the president just said that he is serious about a military option against Iran. Unfortunately, you got pick your wars, my friend. You can’t go ahead and bomb both Iran and Syria. The world doesn’t work that way, pal. Preferably, I don’t want to start a war with either Syria or Iran. Not that I mind a couple assassinations here, few “accidental explosions” there. But if you want to invade both countries, I got two words for you…Iraq and Afghanistan. Good luck! Enjoy your protracted, slug fest. After a while, I’m questioning your intelligence and rational for war, but that didn’t stop you Republicans the last time. See you.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  15. Jannani

    Iran Air Flight 655 was a civilian jet airliner shot down by U.S. missiles on July 3, 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz, toward the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft, an Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path when it was destroyed by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49), killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard,[1] ranking it twelfth among the deadliest disasters in aviation history.
    America is the root of all terror.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Reply
    • Gummikuh

      Vincennes was in the middle of a surface action with IRG fast attack craft after one of them shot a missile at a helicopter from another US warship in the Straits of Hormuz. You weren't out there in that era. I was. The Iranians attacked our ships weekly at least. The IRG irregulars were crazy, coming out in all kinds of small craft, attacking us knowing they weren't going to survive, and seldom did. They would attack in international waters, regardless of the law of the sea. We also nearly lost a frigate, the Samuel B. Roberts to an Iranian mine, the ship's crew narrowly saved it from sinking. Have a look sometime at the photos of the damage in a site called Navsource.
      Vincennes was in the middle of a running gun battle with the Iranians when that airliner flew at them and did not respond to radio inquiries to identify themselves. Things were happening fast, the ship was maneuvering hard while shooting. Then this unidentified airplane flies right at them. It was a very tragic mistake, not something anyone in the US Navy set out to do, unlike that Iranian mine.
      You also do not know how terrible the crew felt afterward when they found out what happened. The crew as out there in the straits picking debris off the water. It was sad, heart breaking work for those sailors. You do not have the slightest idea what was going on in the gulf in that era, with Iran attacking all commercial shipping, and frequently attacking US and NATO warships escorting convoys of merchant ships through the straits.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  16. chris kane

    Let em have it.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  17. George Washington

    McCain is a zionist puppet

    He is a traitor!

    March 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  18. Notarespectorofpersons

    U.S. has high morals????????????????? Would like to know what they are and by whose authority they are high. Who gets to decide a society's morals???????????? and if its some society that decides, is it by majority vote? So then various societies have varius moral codes or norms and of course no societies norm or code is superior, or if it is, who decides whose is "better" or" worse". Cannibalism. homosexuality. polygamy. capitalism. communism. socialism. islam. catholicism, racism, reverse racism, wealth inequality, fatal boredom of "equal" outcome" movements, dumb down education, brainless entertainment, someone says shoot a cop in the back and someelse else says only a coward would do that ..then war, terrorist acts, are the ways of cowards..the "brave" one who will frontal attack a machine gun nest of the "enemy" and remain silent as a dumb dog at the injustices all around him in his own society, that one is a hero or brave?????????? and we all die and it is all over and who really cares 10 minutes later, 10 days later, 10 years later...and what is this accountability crap ..obviously if evolution is true, there is no such thing as accountability.. everyone does what is best for them reigned in only by situations and the play and counterplay of power and who has authority (the most guns) for the anything, say anything, do anything we want more freedom...freedom...freedom..... we want drugs... fun... more....we have a covenent with death... is that all there is...oh no, you have to be caring...sorry that is have to cultivate love ...sorry thats anti evolution...sorry, just calm down and carry on ...thats all you can do...and dont forget the mortgage and car payment... and, oh, how many more years of quality life do you maybe have before its nothingness?...and if you believe in evolution welcome to nothingness and where all so called "meaning" and feelings are nothingness...

    March 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  19. kafantaris

    Watching a brutal regime kill scores of people day after day with impunity so that it may stay in power makes accomplices of us all. History will be unkind.
    McCain is right. We have sat this one out too long.
    The time to act is now. And we may already be too late.

    March 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Reply
  20. Jannani

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2. In 1953, America overthrow Iran's democratic government and installed a brutal dictator. During Iran-Iraq war, America supported Saddam, which killed over million Iranian people. In 2003, America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ Iraqi people and displaced 4,000,000+ Iraqi people.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 24 trillion dollar by 2015.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Reply
    • JKLOL

      America is not the root of all evil or a failed state...the US Dollar is entwined into every world economy..our money, language, and culture have become the focal point of example and desire to the majority of the world...however, just like every other nation in the world, there are good people and bad people...but no country is as free, has as much opportunity, or is as infrastructurally/industrially advanced as the USA... furthermore, the US is the only nation that can or has ever been defined as a "superpower". If we are a failed state, how are we still alive, kicking ass, and setting the bar for the world?? Look at the latest google earth photos if you dont have a window in view of the good 'ol USA... this alone will disprove everything you said..

      March 6, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
      • JKLOL

        not to mention...PROVE that America was responsible for 1million Iraqi cant possibly know that and there is no proof of this figure or their cause of death...also...its better to be displaced than many of those countries we were in did we help or liberate people?? you are just plain ignorant...let the USA know when your a** is on the line and maybe we'll come save you too!

        March 6, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  21. bikerpi53

    I Truly feel for the people of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the starving Pygmies of New Guinia and all other starving and oppressed peoples of the world. But the United States cannot and must not be the saving grace of the world any longer. Where has it gotten the people of the midle east countries that do not want our democracy? I may be an ignorant redneck from Arkansas, but these wars that we lose our American citizens, the cost and food shelter that we need for our downtrodden people of our own nation must not be wasted on those that have lived the way they live for thousands of years and had rather see us wiped off the face of the earth. I hope others would stand up and say this to our Government. It won't do any good, but at least they will know the American People have had enough.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  22. Ivan

    Here is a perfect example of when we need term limits on Senators and Congress men.

    After a while they make no sense and are useless. Just like the president.

    Currently they make it a career and do nothing for the benefit of the country.

    I like McCain but he is absolutely no sense here. Start another war in the Middle east.

    Come on John just go off to the retirement home quietly.

    Between Obama wanting to attack Iran because Israel asks him to.
    And McCain wanting to bomb Syria and Putin winning in Russia, this will be the beginning of WW III

    March 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • Marsha in IN

      I think we need to mind our own business. We don't want any more WARS. We need term limits. They steal our money and let people here go hungry, They loss their home and we have the worst education for our money we put into it

      March 5, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  23. portland tony

    Take out the Syrian air defenses. Hmmmmm...These are being used against the insurgents? Sounds like you want set up an outside invasion and to put American boots on the ground. Senator, your thinking belongs in the 20th century.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  24. The ghosts of Al-Assads victims

    People, use your brains. The USAF and USN are forces par excellence in taking out enemy air defenses. We take out their air defense systems, their C2, their armor, their Air Force, from the air with no ground troops. We lock them up from the air just like Gaddafi's forces. Don't be so blind to this option. It's better then doing nothing.

    March 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Reply
    • Victor

      With all the budget cut that are happening? I am former military, I know we can do it. The question is, should we?

      March 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Phil

      I completely agree, people are calous and the act like not helping these people will save their already broke a$$ from going more broke,

      March 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  25. nibiru

    if he wants he can go fight himself syrian regime or use his own money for this purpose.we don't like anymore spending our hard earned money on stupid wars for foreign people.No more Worlds police

    March 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  26. LMD

    For all of those Politicians calling for war of any kind-the first persons I want to see on the front lines are you,your sons,your grandsons,etc. No excuses that your sons are being Patriotic by getting you elected,or that you are too old. Be my guest to step right up,and get your cronies and their Super Pacs to pay for it! Stop asking our kids,husbands ,daughters etc to fight your wars

    March 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  27. Frank Loftice

    Thank goodness this clown didn't get elected president.

    March 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
    • Maria Lopez1

      Follow @SarhanNews on twitter who is the person who told this news first. In interview with McCain.!/SarhanNews

      March 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  28. Ern

    Great. the idiots are taking over. Ruin relations with another country in the region.

    March 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  29. Victor

    Sen. McCain, I love ya, but I think you are having one of those Vietnam POW moments right now. I think sometimes we need to keep our noses out of other people business. I understand it is hard, especially when the US thinks we have high morals. Sorry folks, we can not even clean up our own back yard. No more World Police.

    March 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply

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