Interview with Senator McCain on Syria

Interview with Senator McCain on Syria

By John King, USA - March 5, 2012

KING: Senator, if you talk to folks at the Pentagon, they say they share your goals, but that getting the United States involved that way is too much of an escalation, would put too many people, civilians in Syria at risk. How would you answer that?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, my answer is that, right now, in case they missed it, there's thousands of people being massacred by tanks and artillery used by Bashar Assad.

I heard that same argument when we decided to go into Bosnia, and I heard the same argument when we went into Kosovo. So if they want to disregard the continuing massacre that in the view of many could go on for months or even a year or more, then that's their choice, but please don't tell us it's because they want to -- they're worried about casualties. They're going on as we speak.

KING: You remember how tough it was at the time to get international support for Bosnia and Kosovo, sir. Should the United States act alone if that support does not exist, in your view?

MCCAIN: I don't think so, because I think it would be extremely difficult to do that.

I think I would face that -- my answer is I think I would face that eventuality once I got there. But what the United States can do for a change is lead, is lead, and make sure that we work with the Arab League, with other countries. The Saudis have already said they want to send arms to the resistance in Syria, and so have other countries.

And we saw what could be done in Libya. So, it's one of these things that you can always find reasons not to, including -- quote -- "We don't know who they are." I heard that in Libya. I heard that in Tunisia, heard that in Egypt. But the fact is, massacres are going on. The United States is sitting by and not doing anything about it.

KING: If you are going to take tanks and artillery that are in residential neighborhoods, that would involve a lot of risks. And would it not be best, if you're going to try to do that, to put covert boots on the ground to find them and track them?

MCCAIN: Well, I think there are many things that you can do.

And other countries, as in Libya, might be willing to do that. We have precision-guided bombs. We have proven that on many occasions, including most recently in Libya, when our allies were using precision-guided weapons.

And, again, I want to repeat, John, you will find 1,000 reasons not to do the right thing. Every time we have been involved, I have heard the same excuses. And, in this particular case, if we want to stand by and watch Syrians being massacred in the most brutal and incredibly genocidal fashion, then that is a decision we can make. But please don't tell me we can't do it. We can if we have the will.

KING: A provocative proposal tonight from Senator John McCain.

Senator, thanks for your time.

MCCAIN: Thank you, John. 

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John King, USA

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