McCain: Syria intervention could be done ‘easily’
The Arizona Republican told CNN’s Kate Boulduan that the US military could destroy Syrian President Bashar Assad’s runways and aircraft within “a couple of days”, quickly arm rebels and establish a no-fly zone easily.
“There would be no boots on the ground,” he said. “We would use standoff weapons just as the Israelis have four times as they’ve taken out targets inside Syria. We would not put a single life at risk.”
McCain, a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said the president’s failure to take action in response to the violent turbulence in Egypt shows that the US has no policies or strategies that can be trusted.
“There is no policy. And there is no strategy. And therefore we react and we react poorly,” he said. “One of the best examples is Syria where the president said Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons, that’s a red line. He’s used them and we have done virtually nothing in response to that.”
Since last year, President Obama promised the US would take action in Syria if the country crosses a ‘red line’ by using chemical weapons. The United Nations is currently investigating an alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus and the Assad regime promised maximum cooperation in the investigation. Reports estimate that up to 1,300 people were killed in a gas attack. Rebel groups blame Assad’s forces for the attack, but the government claims the opposition carried out the attack to gain international military help for their cause.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich on Wednesday released a statement in which he condemns “biased regional media” for blaming the Assad regime for attacks that may have been “a provocation planned in advance.” On Thursday, he urged UN experts to conduct an objective investigation.
“Biased regional media have immediately, as if on command, begun an aggressive information attack, laying all the responsibility on the government,” he said, arguing that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances was launched from a rebel-controlled region.
After reports of an alleged chemical attack surfaced in May, the State Department said that the rebels have no “ability or intent” to use chemical weapons. And after the latest controversy, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that “we are unable to conclusively determine chemical weapon use.”
The UN investigation of the alleged use of chemical weapons is still ongoing, but McCain believes the US should consider this the Assad-instigated ‘red line’ that would prompt US military action.
“We can supply the right kind of weapons to rebels and to establish a no-fly zone by moving Patriot missiles up to the border. This can be done very easily,” he said.
“When the president of the United States says that if [Assad] uses these weapons that it would be a ‘red line and a game changer,’ [Assad] now sees that as a green light and that is, the word of the president of the United States can no longer be taken seriously as it isn’t throughout the entire region,” he added, claiming prematurely that Assad will use chemical weapons many times over.