Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Sunday dismissed the notion that increasing American military assistance to rebels in Syria could worsen the conflict there.
McCain has been calling for greater U.S. military intervention in Syria ever since Bashar al-Assad’s regime cracked down violently on peaceful protests throughout the country in 2011. Now, with Syrian peace talks stalled and violence there getting worse and more brutal, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked McCain on her State of the Union program whether adding more guns to the situation might do more harm than good. “Isn’t it a terrible idea to do nothing in Syria?” McCain asked rhetorically.
But later in the segment, Crowley returned to the question. “Do you entertain the possibility,” Crowley wondered, that “more harm could happen if we increased it, help militarily?”
“More harm could happen?!” McCain shot back. “Candy with all due respect that’s ludicrous. That’s ludicrous!” Just moments later, McCain referenced the Iraq war — a U.S.-led military intervention in a Middle Eastern country that arguably did more harm than good — to bolster his point:
CROWLEY: There are humanitarian crises in a number of places where the pictures are horrific. And you know these places, many of them in Central Africa. But there’s not this kind of push to help arm the rebels or whoever it is we side with in these places and I think when you look at the pictures you can’t help but being moved senator, and you say, “What is worse than doing nothing.” Maybe doing harm, — do you entertain the possibility that some harm could happen — more harm could happen if we increased it, help militarily.
McCAIN: More harm could happen? More harm could happen?! Candy with all due respect that’s ludicrous. That’s ludicrous! And by the way, in Africa, we make efforts with the U.N. We are working, we are providing assistance and things to do in Africa. In the Middle East, this situation was predicted and predictable and the stakes here frankly are incredibly high. Humanitarian stakes anywhere else in the rest of the world are incredibly high, but now looking at a regional conflict which could over time draw the United States into it if it spreads across the region. The second battle of Fallujah we lost 96 Marines and soldiers, 600 wounded and now the black flags of al-Qaeda are flying over Fallujah. Disgraceful.
The so-called “Geneva II” Syrian peace talks concluded on Saturday with no concrete results for which Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations top envoy to Syria, apologized. “I am very, very sorry, and I apologize to the Syrian people,” he said. “I apologize to them that on these two rounds we haven’t helped them very much.”
More than 100,000 people have been killed since the civil-war there began and many millions have fled their homes. The Washington Post reported last week that Syrian refugees have described their deplorable living conditions, including “being driven to desperation — eating leaves, foraged plants, cats and earthworms.” President Obama is reportedly considering a “wide range of policy tools and options” to increase pressure on Assad, a senior official said, according to the Los Angeles Times. But it doesn’t appear that the president will turn to military options.
“There will be some intermediate steps that we can take to apply more pressure to the Assad regime,” Obama said on Friday, “and we’re going to be continuing to work with all the parties concerned to try to move forward on a diplomatic solution.”