February 12th, 2012
12:16 PM ET
11 years ago

Lieberman: It's time to take action in Syria

(CNN) - Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut called Sunday for the United States to provide direct assistance to the Syrian people in their struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

"It's time to try to help the brave Syrian freedom fighters to carry out a fair fight," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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U.N. officials estimate 6,000 people have died since protests seeking political reforms in Syria began nearly a year ago.

So far, the Obama administration has recalled the U.S. ambassador to Syria and imposed sanctions, while pushing unsuccessfully for a U.N. Security Council resolution against the Assad regime.

However, it has resisted calls by veteran Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and some Republican presidential candidates to take a larger role in backing the Syrian opposition movement.

Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats and chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, argued that any U.S. effort must be part of an international coalition, similar to the nation's involvement in Libya last year.

He also suggested that U.S. assistance first come through medical help, then later through training, communications equipment, and ultimately, weapons.

The United States has major security interests in aiding Syria, which gets support from Iran, Lieberman said.

Pointing to the recent veto by Russia and China of a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at halting the violence, Lieberman said other countries and coalitions must get involved.

"America ought to take the position that every option is on the table except doing nothing, because doing nothing means hundreds of more Syrians are killed and it means that Iran, which continues to give Assad the weapons with which he's killing his own people, will achieve a strategic victory over us," Lieberman told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

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Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Joe Lieberman • Syria • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Bart Tippetts

    The United States is global force for good. Indeed we should do everytthing we can to stop the slaughter. short of military intervention. Arabs countries will come to the aid of the Syrians and we can help in logistics , communications, intelligence. , finances , and humanatarian relief. . At the same times we should push for a international peacful resolution of the situation. inorder to avoid a wider civil war. and middle east conflict. A protacted civil war will be disasteruous.including untold human suffering.

    February 12, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Alex

    That is funny. Just hours apart, both a pro-Israel hawk in US congress and Al Qaeda leader Zawahiri have both called for support of Syrian opposition. Strange bedfellows indeed.

    February 12, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. topper

    Hey Joe we don't need to go do anything for Syria. It is time for Russia, China and the Arab League to step up to the plate. I am tired of wasting our money on that Region. We certainly shouldn't be doing it for the sake of Isreal. We need to get home and stay home.

    February 12, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. tim

    Remember, Liebermann was Gore's VP choice and he was for the invasion of Iraq. Don't pay him any attention.

    February 12, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. fredflintstone

    Epic Failure on Joseph Lieberman.

    February 12, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. Rob

    I hadn't noticed how quiet Super Landsman Joe L. had been on this subject.

    He probably didn't want to be too obvious as to whose interests are really at stake here.

    February 12, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Monique

    I for one do not want any involvement in any civil war in any Mideastern country! Have we not yet learned our lesson? And Egypt's "change of government" with our encouragement and probably financial help has not really happened, has it? There doesn't seem to be much change... Libya has – and probably won't – not acquired a democratic government, and at this point I have my doubts about Tunisia... there seems to be a mindset in these cultures that can't let go of age-old traditions, including treatment and the role of women.

    February 12, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Al Bundy

    It is not our fight! Let them fight their own fight! Why shed American blood by trying to be the world p[olice? The United States is hated for sticking it's nose where it dosen't belong, like here. Obama stay out of it.

    February 12, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. hypatia

    Joe is welcome to pick himself and his family up and go fight for whichever side he wants. We'll watch with interest and bowls of popcorn on CNN.

    February 12, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. B

    Just what we need right now,to start yet another damn War that is backed by Russia and China on the other side with weapons and money!

    We are NOT in a position to continue to be " World CopsForever".
    Let the Arab countries, UN, and NATO step up and show that this is an international problem, not always just ours.

    Lieberman and McCain are War Mongers and should sit down and shut-up..

    February 12, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Mike

    Well, the, let's arm this armchair patriot with his own M16 and dump him off in Syria! Not to denigrate the horrors committed by that government, nothing that is happening in Syria is any worse than what the Chinese have been doing for years and Leibermann is perfectly okay with taking their money. These Neomarxist free traders have no business formulating our foreign policy. No more worthless deaths of American's! Erect trade barriers, add 100% trade tariffs, bring our jobs back home.

    February 12, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Jon

    What is this for Obama? War number 4? I lost count

    February 12, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Observer

    I really doubt that mr. Lieberman knows the situation across the Atlantic, that he understands who fights for the "freedom" side but I am sure why he says this. He needs a new war to begin, to ruin a souvereign country out there, to bring american guys over there to fight for nothing because Israel's afraid of a powerful neighbour. That is a souveregn buisiness of Syria, and i believe none of actions must be taken, 'cause interfearance will cause even bigger death toll for both sides. And firstly check out weather freedom fighters are so freedom ones.

    February 12, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Ron

    That's right USA. Just send them weapons and let them all kill each other. You send the "activists" weapons, and Russia keeps the government forces well armed. GREAT solution.

    February 12, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. Val Rankov

    MSNBC reported that Al-Qaida's chief Ayman al-Zawahri has called on Muslims from other countries to support rebels in Syria seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

    February 12, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. John

    So the Senator from Israel speaks again. Obviously he sees this civil war as advantageous to Israel. And screw whatever it means to America. Note in the same breath he says it must be an international effort, thinking he sets himself up for a win-win: if America helps and Assad topples, he claims credit for pushing us. If America does not get involved he can trash Obama til doomsday for innocent blood on his hands. Does anyone here seriously think Joe Lieberman has EVER not pushed America into military adventures in the Middle East for any reason except that such presence there is to Israel's advantage?

    February 12, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. JohnRJohnson

    No wonder you and John McCain have been such good buddies. You are both a couple of warmongers who think the United States has to send its kids off to fight every time there is an uprising in another country. The entire Mideast has been unstable since we invaded Iraq in 2003. You honestly think sending US forces in would actually improve things in that part of the world? As much as we loathe the Assad regime and his systematic slaughter of his own people, our intervention would lead to even more civilian deaths and misery. Assad's father killed more than 20,000 during an uprising in Syria many years ago. That was five times as many people than Assad has killed in the last few months, yet we didn't intervene back then. Is it the job of American kids to spill blood in every God foresaken hole on the planet that is ruled by some tyrant? I don't think so, Joe. It wasn't right in Vietnam and it wasn't right in Iraq. And, since Osama Bin Laden was taken out, it hasn't been right in Afghanistan, either. I am not saying we should isolate ourselves, but I am suggesting that politicians like you are too quick to volunteer other people's children to fulfill your fantasies of military victory in countries where no such victory could ever be possible.

    February 12, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    @Ted van Tol: "Wrong! It's time for the Arabic Leage to act! Not the USA or Nato."

    I agree! The Arab League has billions of dollars at their disposal – and a lot more pull with Syria than we do. I think we need to pressure the AL to get off their fannies and do something NOW!

    February 12, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Rob Vukovic

    Somebody should remind Senator Lieberman (i) Tel Aviv that it's always very easy to call for sending in the troops when you've never been a troop.

    February 12, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. wiseoldbird

    We have no business doing more than what we have done. The U.S.A. is not the world's policeman. We made no promises to the freedom fighters. They started this fight with Assad. If they want the killing to stop they can always lay down their guns. Besides, IF we were to enter into this fray and overthrow Assad, the next government would be just as corrupt and all these Muslem freedom fighters would turn on us and hate us all over again. What they want is a country just like ours but they have been so corrupt for so long that I doubt that will ever be possible. I'm more concerned about the corruption in our congress than I am about syria's problems. I don't want to wind up living like them.

    February 12, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Paul

    No... we can't afford it and enough is enough. Every polititian should be forced to put their children in harms way first. This will keep us out of all these endless conflicts and wars.

    February 12, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Wastrel

    Dead wrong. Any aid to any Muslims ends up being used against us. They must solve their own problems in the Middle East. They must also stop threatening us. This war by Islam against the rest of the world has gone on for more than 1000 years and must be stopped.

    February 12, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Rajeev G

    Why not Arabs resolving this issue? The innocent people are being killed by another dictator. Arab is mainly Muslims. They have armies. How can they stay back and witnessed Muslims being butchered by another Muslim. I think all those Arab nations and their leaders are "IMPOTENTS" that they cannot take care of this problem in their backyard on their own.

    February 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. Big_D

    Lieberman is evil, if he wants us to get involved it has horrible consequences. Remember what he did to healthcare, remember that we had a chance at universal health care and we ended up with Lieberman forced insurance.

    February 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. jim

    I've always thought that Lieberman was one of the people in the Senate whose thoughtfulness was impressive. I don't know what I would do if I was the one making decisions, but children getting t slaughtered is beyond tragic.

    February 12, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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