McCain: ‘Angry and bitter’ Syrians need America’s help
April 28th, 2013
10:48 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain: ‘Angry and bitter’ Syrians need America’s help

(CNN) – The people of Syria, beleaguered by war and potentially being attacked by chemical weapons, are “angry and bitter” that the United States has not played a more leading role in ending the country’s conflict, Sen. John McCain said Sunday.

Long an advocate of a more pronounced American effort in Syria, McCain described the disappointment he saw while visiting a Syrian refugee camp in neighboring Jordan.

“This woman who was a schoolteacher said, ‘Sen. McCain, do you see these children here? They're going to take revenge on those people who refused to help them,’ ” McCain recalled on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They’re angry and bitter. And that legacy could last for a long time too, unless we assist them.”

Last week, the White House told lawmakers in a letter that intelligence analysts have concluded "with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin."

But the analysis was characterized as preliminary, with the White House saying the "chain of custody" of the chemicals was not clear and that intelligence analysts could not confirm the circumstances under which the sarin was used, including the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

President Barack Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line” threshold for greater U.S. action in the country, which McCain argued was coming too late.

“For about two years this situation has deteriorated in a very alarming fashion, affected the surrounding countries, destabilized Lebanon, destabilized Jordan, and has had implications and repercussions throughout the region,” McCain said.

On Friday, Obama noted again that the use of chemical weapons in Syria “crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues.”

But he said the intelligence gathered on potential use of sarin was still too preliminary to be conclusive.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argued that once a red line has been drawn it must be adhered to.

“I think putting aside the question of exactly what we do, once we announce there's a red line, if we don't take it seriously, we are discrediting ourselves in not just Syria, but Iran, North Korea, all around the world,” Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “How much proof do you need?”

Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state, said Obama was in a difficult situation.

“He was right to make those warnings in the last several months because use of chemical weapons is a war crime under the chemical weapons convention,” Burns said, also on CNN. “I think he's right to be prudent and cautious. We got in a situation in 2003 in Iraq and didn't have all our facts together and went to war in part on an erroneous basis. So he's right to be cautious.”

“But when you draw a line in the sand in the Middle East and you dare someone to cross it and they appear to have crossed it, there have been to be consequences,” he added. “And our credibility as a country is very important.”

Filed under: John McCain • Syria
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Grab your gun and go, big John, if you feel so strongly about it. What's stopping you?

    April 28, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. roro

    Is there anything McCain can think of that a good old-fashioned war won't cure? You would think that after what he went through, war would be the last resort for him.

    April 28, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Zerubbabel

    Hey John, what about your fellow Americans that are being gunned down. The elderly that are eating cat food. The poor starving American children. The needy and disaffected, all of these people have been hurt by the policies that you espouse. Mr. Senator, charity begins at home.

    April 28, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. chill485

    McCain and his Superman complex. Why is it always us who have to give of our money and our blood to fix whatever is wrong in the world. Lets the Saudi's do it. Or the Brits or the Russians or the Chinese. Sure, most of us would like to play the super-hero and wipe Assad and his minions out, restoring peace and tranquility. But that's a comic book ending that never actually happens in the real world.

    April 28, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. luvUamerica

    The sad part of the whole thing is this very people who McCain is trying to help, will eventually turn their guns on his butt, and blow it up. It is sad that the other neighboring countries, and the Islamic world do not care what happens there.

    This will be another unilateral effort using American Tax payers money. Is it worth it in the long run? Nope!

    April 28, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. catsnake

    NO!!! We have our own problems. If he wants to help so much then let him and his family go over and fight with the rebels. That's the last thing we need right now. These idiot Republicans never learn. I don't know if they are motivated by fear, religion, or the smell of gunpowder. Possibly a mix but we are not the world's welfare office. Funny how they are against welfare here and government health care but don't blink when plucking down billions as well as numerous American soldiers lives (rarely their own children) just to interfere in other country's problems.

    April 28, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Red Man

    No we need to help the Government that is in place NOT the rebels.. have we learned nothing from Libya and Egypt in backing the wrong side ...geez guys

    April 28, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. boyscout

    What he really means is our military industrial complex companies need more federal contracts so they can steal more money from taxpayers

    April 28, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. PeteZ

    Yes, McCain. You make perfect sense. Let's spill Amrican blood and money to replace the cruel dictator with Islamic Jihadists.

    April 28, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. Middle Ground

    ... a schoolteacher said, ‘Sen. McCain, do you see these children here? They're going to take revenge on those people who refused to help them,’...

    Oh, really? And will they take revenge on fellow muslims who didn't help them, or just the non-muslims they are taught to hate? Tell me, 'school teacher', what exactly are you teaching them? Are you raising the next generation of boogymen? Your comment indicates it.

    April 28, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. American

    AMERICA needs America's help, but mcain wants to give the syrians our money, instead of us. And he want's into office? He's already a poor-decision maker out of office – who would vote this guy in?

    April 28, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. Red Man

    The Problem with this like Egypt and Libya we help radicals overthrow very predictable leaders and replace them with nut cases

    April 28, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. American

    I used to favor mcain, but now know not to have anything to do with his ideology – as long as he has his personal money, let's use taxpayer money to buy political favors for his personal interest? He can only win right?

    April 28, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Howard

    Kinda like when Bin Ladin needed America's help?

    April 28, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. mkat2

    McCain, go back to Arizona & take Janet with you! Syria; These are bad people killing bad people. Except for the innocent children, who unfortunately will grow up to repeat the process.

    April 28, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. Lynn

    This term will probably be McCain's last term as well. Voted for Gun Control and now he wants Americans to go to war with Syria. Kind of an Oxymoron. Regulate my guns DO NOT expect me to raise a hand to help you.

    April 28, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. sparky

    Hey Johnny, I gues nobody told you the Syrian rebels are backed by Al Qaeda

    April 28, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  18. John

    From the article, "The people of Syria, beleaguered by war and potentially being attacked by chemical weapons, are “angry and bitter” that the United States has not played a more leading role in ending the country’s conflict, Sen. John McCain said Sunday."
    Shouldn't they be "angry and bitter" that their brothers and sisters in the Arab League with whom they share borders have not done ANYTHING at all?

    April 28, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. Alina77

    McCain, is this the same dude that predicted Iraq war to be finished in two month, and the US solders would be treated by the Iraqis as a Liberators?

    April 28, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Mikey

    Yeah, last time we "helped" some rebels it was in Afghanistan against the Russians. Our reward was the Taliban. No thanks, fool me once and all that..

    April 28, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. captain

    Go McCain, Go to Syria yourself. Take your kids. Take the Evil Empire Bushs and Cheney, and all their families. Roves and Rumsfields and Rices too. The America will be a better country. Let the Bush / Cheney bunch do their bombings there instead of on Americans. And don't bother to come back

    April 28, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. DeepImpact

    America can not afford yet another war. Let's stay out of this one. I do not think Syria will be safer if al Assad is toppled.

    April 28, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. Dave

    If the Senate wants us to intervene in Syria, let THEM declare WAR on Syria. That's supposed to be THEIR job, remember?

    Better yet, let's stay out of it. Any time we get involved, we make things WORSE.

    April 28, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Liberty & Peace

    Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “How much proof do you need?”

    You mean like all the credible intelligence of WMD's in Iraq?

    April 28, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. guy

    ...and this is why McCain lost in 2008

    April 28, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
1 2 3 4 5