Yesterday on CNN, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) again scorned the Obama administration for not intervening militarily in Syria, calling its efforts to resolve the crisis diplomatically “shameful.” When host Candy Crowley asked if the U.S. should be sending arms to the Syrian rebels, McCain immediately replied, “Sure, why not?“:
CROWLEY: U.S. arms, you want to get U.S. arms to them. You don’t…
MCCAIN: Sure, why not? Why not? Russian arms are coming in. Iranians are on the ground. Meanwhile, the Iranians are helping Bashar al-Assad and they are committing acts of — they are committing terrorist acts around the world — they are planning on terrorist acts. The talks with Iran on their nuclear development have broken down and where is the United States of America?
Watch the clip:
McCain is wrong to suggest that the Obama administration is standing idly by while Bashar al-Assad kills his own people. The U.S. has been delivering non-military assistance to Syria’s rebels behind the diplomatic scenes, including providing intelligence, logistics and communications assistance and technological aid and training. And the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported today that the administration is tabling for now diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria and instead increasing aid to rebels, “scrambling spies and diplomats to block arms and oil shipments from Iran and passing intelligence to front-line allies.”
But McCain’s knee-jerk “why not” arm the Syrian rebels response demonstrates his apparently unwillingness to consider the repercussions of such a move. “To argue that we ought to be arming the opposition is a very consequential statement,” U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said recently. “And I don’t think that those that are advocating that have fully thought through the consequences.”
House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said last month that he sees the intelligence everyday and urged caution in arming the rebels. “We just don’t have a good handle on who they are,” Rogers said.
And Republican House Speaker John Boehner (OH) agrees with Rice, last week dismissing McCain’s Syria position in favor of Obama’s. “I believe that Assad has to go,” he said, “But I don’t think that we need to overly involve ourselves to the extent of direct military action.”