Sen. McCain: We Can Make The Syria Rebels Strong And Resilient


SEAN HANNITY: Senator, according to The Hill this weekend, the Syrian rebels agreed to a ceasefire with ISIS. Does that change the equation any?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Well, they haven't, and they're still being slaughtered, and they are still a core of brave young men, many of whom have already died, that are still fighting for freedom, and I believe that they can still be viable over time. But let me say I've just heard -- and it may be wrong -- that no Arab country has agreed, Middle Eastern country has agreed to engage in air or ground support against ISIS. This is a direct result of American indecision and lack of credibility. When they see the president of the United States compare Yemen and Somalia with a 30,000-man terrorist organization with tanks and equipment and the size of Indiana and compare that to Yemen and Somalia, they don't believe the president is either serious or he's deluded, one of the two. And when you talk about a coalition, I think you're going to have great difficulty, Sean, in getting any Middle Eastern country to cooperate in any fashion because of the decisions the president has made, including the commitment to bomb Syria and not to. And, by the way, I could show the president targets on the map today that he could be bombing and killing ISIS people, the same ones that carried out this hideous decision. Why the delay in a bombing campaign in Syria? I'd be very interested to know.

HANNITY: Well, a couple of things, as we've been reporting tonight, number one, they said in the New York Times, no "shock and awe." I think we've already telegraphed there's no boots on the ground. Now we're saying it's not going to be an overwhelming campaign. Then we don't have any allies that have publicly joined with us, no Arab countries. And on top of that, I am concerned about this report about Syrian rebels and the ceasefire with ISIS --

MCCAIN: It's not true. It's not true. It's not true. I don't care about the report. I know these people intimately. We talk to them all the time. But also let me point out that if we are going to conduct a conflict the way you are describing it, and I'm afraid that's the case, this is reminiscent of Vietnam. The gradual escalation that ended up in one of the worst defeats that America has ever suffered.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about what your colleague Rand Paul said about it this morning. He said, "It's a mistake to arm them. Most of the arms that we've given the so-called 'moderate' rebels have wound up in the hands of ISIS because ISIS simply takes it from them or it is given to them and we mistakenly actually end up giving it to some radicals."

MCCAIN: Has Rand Paul ever been to Syria? Has he ever met with ISIS? Has he ever met with any of these people?

HANNITY: I'm not trying to cause a fight, sir.

MCCAIN: No, no, we're going to have a fight because it's patently false. This is the same Rand Paul that said we didn't want to have anything to do with anything to do in the Middle East, by the way. I don't want to get in a fight with him at all, but it's not true. I know these people. I'm in contact with them all the time, and he is not. He is not.

HANNITY: Senator, I know your background. I believe you when you say you have sources on the ground, but I've got to be clear because I was a little surprised. It was in The Hill, it was in this weekend, they cite the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, monitoring events for the United Kingdom. And what they said, "The groups agreed to a nonaggression pact in which they promised not to attack each other. You're saying this report in The Hill by this group is false, and you know for a fact?

MCCAIN: I'm saying I know for a fact that the Free Syrian Army is being attacked by both Bashar Assad and by ISIS, and they have suffered hundreds of casualties at the hands of both. I know that they are not giving up their fight. I know that we can make them strong and resilient, but arming and equipping 5,000 a year in the face of a 30,000-man army means that the United States of America is not serious.

HANNITY: Listen, I'm not saying that these are easy questions to answer. I mean, we can go back to arming the Mujahideen in Afghanistan many, many years ago with stinger missiles, some of which have later been used and propped up and used against Americans. It seems like a very delicate question. Do we need to examine it further, more deeply and know the people whose hands these weapons are going to get in?Certainly you're concerned about that.

MCCAIN: Well, I'm concerned. By the way, I know of no instance where the Mujahideen injured a single American.

HANNITY: No, not them. The weapons ended up in the hands of--

MCCAIN: Or the weapons. I don't know where the weapons did that either. You'll have to help me out on that. Second of all, I do know these people. I know what they're committed to. I know the fact that the president refused to help them two years ago over the recommendations of his secretary of state, secretary of defense and head of CIA was a drastic and terrible decision to make.

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