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. General Davis

    Yep, Joe. Time to back this CIA inspired revolt. After all , Syria was on Bush's list of countries to take down, and we're still playing by his game plan.

    February 12, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Foo

    A true sustainable victory is won within the country without aid from others. When outsiders get militarily involved the problem gets complicated (Example: Iraq). If Syria really wants reform, Syrian people must rise against the oppressors. If there is not enough momentum to overcome oppression, perhaps unfortunately Syrian people have to wait. Meanwhile we must put as much diplomatic pressure on the Syrian government to relent. Assad will fall within the year if he continue his current course because the people will rise.

    February 12, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. SatelliteSteve

    I think all these politicians should get a brain before they offer their opinions. Joe: Why not start by putting hard working class americans back in homes and back to work first? The middle east was described as a "house of cards" decades ago and the more money we throw away means same bull, different day. Same with north korea, only cries when they are cold or starving. Lets not forget we have cold and starving people here Joe. America First.

    February 12, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. donnas

    It's time for this war hawk, Lieberman, to give it up and move to Israel. The U.S. has no business in Syria's business....the UN was created for this type of intervention. We can no longer afford to expand the American Empire.

    February 12, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. nodat1

    direct support = boots on the ground.. Something Lieberman family will not worry about

    February 12, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. mark

    I agree with Mr Lieberman we as Jews have to be sensitive of genocide, even though most of these Muslims hate Jews we still have to defend the defenseless.

    February 12, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Ilene B

    If people protest against a government that is willing to kill its own people (or the army/police) are willing to kill their own people, then people are going to get killed. If said people take up light arms against a major military power that is willing to kill its own people, people are going to be killed. Civil disobedience only works when the power-that-is has some moral sense or concerns itself with the moral condemnation of other countries. I read that Gandhi said the Jews should have committed mass suicide in protest of the Holocaust. I'm sure the Germans and their collaborators would have just loved that, being spared the effort to murder people.
    If the Syrian Free Army (whoever that is) wants to shoot at the tanks and missiles of a major military power, people will die. As much as I think and know that the Syrian turkeyshoot at civilians is vile, it can hardly be a surprise, and there is nothing anyone from the outside can or should do about it on the ground. I second the idea that Lieberman should gather his kids and grandkids and go take up arms. It's more of a quagmire than any of the other feared quagmires.

    February 12, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. wootdude

    Sorry, but Syria is not an ally. The Syrian people hate the US so they do not get our help. If they want their freedom, fight for it. But don't ask for outside help. suck it up, buttercup!

    February 12, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Realist

    Lieberman should be locked up. He's a nut case. We are not the policemen of the world.

    February 12, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. LR

    Everyone wants to get involved in this conflict, which should be dealt within the region. Now, what happened to the UN Blue Helmet's why can't they be deployed there? Why the UN Resolutions no longer offer this option? Who knows who this opposition is made off, will the US commit the same error of befriending AlQueda or Taliban forces to oust a government that needs to go? If the Blue Helmets are able to halt aggression without taking sides, it would be easier to bring this government or the "opposition" to international trial and solve this massacre ones and for all.

    February 12, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. Ain't life strange?

    Where does Israel stand on this issue? Why should America take lives and money in helping one country after another solve their own internal problems? We just don't have any more left to give! How can we justify sending troops or dollars anywhere if just one child goes to bed in America tonight with an empty stomach. Really, where do we draw the line?

    February 12, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  12. John/kc

    It is time for Lieberman to be voted out of office. This is another of our congressmen that wants to police the world with the lives of our brave soldiers and the borrowed money of China. This type of mentality must stop or it will bankrupt us. How much does it cost to pay for a lifelong injury of a soldier or a death benefit for a service member, plus the emotional costs. These war mongers need to go with their bloated military budgets paying for over 1300 American bases in over 135 foreign countries.

    February 12, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. James Ruston

    It's a tough issue, because we do have an opportunity to illustrate we can do more than back Israel and secure our oil supplies. But-given the budget deficit, our experience in Iraq, and the way we handled Libya, it is probably better to stay out, at least for the moment.

    February 12, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Anni

    Here's the reality. We The People have no interest in Syria. Our military is being abused and so are the American people. How would Joe feel if some country decided that they need to back the Occupy movement and swooped in here with their military? Civil unrest must be worked out by the people who started it and wanted it. This is not ours to pay for or die for. Turn your back and walk away Joe before the American people decide that our own government should be dealt with and ask another country to do it.

    February 12, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Dennis1020

    Lieberman would sacrifice the security of the United States to promote the security of Israel. He should be serving in the Israeli Knesset rather than the U.S. Senate. For a guy who likes to "rattle the sword", I would sure like to know what branch of the U.S. military he served in during the Vietnam era. The U.S. needs to keep its nose out of the Middle East and let the Arab community, and Israel, solve their own problems.

    February 12, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. gt

    here is a idea... send all those old men and women to fight in this war ... yea joe grab a gun and take off ... get your head blown off instead of our nations best....no more of there war .. no more waste of life... no more waste of american money...

    February 12, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Squigman

    Joe: Get to your local enlistment center, and sign up. As soon as I see you in uniform, I'll consider doing the same. By the way, how many family member do you have, in any branch of service? I doubt many, if any.

    February 12, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Rick

    He sounds like Israel's lapdog to get us involved in another war.

    February 12, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. Peikoviany

    Unless Lieberman has inside knowledge about the forces battling the Syrian regime, how they could maintain power in a post-Baath Party era, how they could maintain power against al-Qaeda, how they could maintain power against the Ayatollahs funding Hezbollah to cross over from Lebanon, this all seems like another quagmire Americans do not need. The Russians have tens of billions of dollars at stake in the al-Assad govt, many industrial jobs that service those contracts as well as a Mediterranean port. Let the Russians fight and die on their own behalf. Just help good Syrians to get out of that mess and relocate to the civilized world.

    February 12, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    P.S. It's time for Lieberman to take a nap, a long nap.

    February 12, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  21. as657

    Time for you to shut up, Joe. Or go and help these "rebels" yourself

    February 12, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. as659

    Sure.. why don't you fly to Syria and help these "rebels"?

    February 12, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  23. Ricke1949

    I am still waiting for the summer sun to shine on the Egyptian spring which has lead to another dictatorship byt the military and possibly a huge shift to Sharia law. The bully pulpit can be used but no more American lives please. People need to learn how to get along and from the scenes going on in Iraq the lesson may never be learned.

    February 12, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. smintheus

    Lieberman's the guy who thought the US should get involved in a war in Georgia against the Russians. That says everything about his mindset and his understanding of international and military affairs.

    February 12, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. once upon a horse

    me thinks no matter what Obama may choose to do about Syria the GOP wll be against it so what's the point? Remember the Gingrich flip flop on Libya....he was FOR a no fly zone before Obama did it then was against it when he did. I can see the same thing again coming from him and the other 3 so-called GOP hopefuls, except for Paul though.

    February 12, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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