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. johnnymustard

    It is a great thing that McCain wasn't elected president...

    April 28, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. wxqz

    The folks of the middle east are more than capable to settle their own affiars.

    But they are ace manipulators. They conspire to keep thmeselves in the news and plan not to resolve their differences and live in peice, but how to grab a headline inthe USA.

    Both President Bush and President Obama have the right idea, Pay the minimum amount of attention possible.

    McCain is simply a lobbiest for the defense industry. What is the bigest threat to the defense industry and the defense budget ? Why world peace of course.

    April 28, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Tychi

    "McCain described the disappointment he saw while visiting a Syrian refugee camp " He could stay and fight with them if he wants to support them. Helping Syria does not mean we have to send troops. We can help by other means.

    April 28, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. WillH85

    If these were just every day rebels trying to better their country I'd agree that we should help, but they're not. They're Islamic extremists and all they're fighting to do is replace one horrible government with another horrible government. Every video I've seen taken by the rebels has them screaming out "allahu akbar" as every other sentence. We need to stay out of the Middle East's business since they're determined to live in the stone age. Anyways, we have a real threat, North Korea, to worry about.

    April 28, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. LeeAT

    When is it going to dawn on rebels to count up the cost before you try to topple your government? Al Quaeda is too heavily involved in every insurrection in the middle east for the US to get involved in every conflict. A nation of 300 plus million people cannot be the police for a world of 6 billion plus people. I agree with the other posts that recognize that America is hated when they intervene in conflicts and hated when we stay out. So if we are going to be hated anyway, I would much rather be hated without sacrificing the lives of our young men and women.

    April 28, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    He looooovvvvvesss wars.

    April 28, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. James

    In reading the comments you can tell who the liberal wing nuts are...phew.

    April 28, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. Kareen

    McCain should go over there and sort out the different groups so the help goes to the right group.

    April 28, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. newz4i

    Sen. McCain calls for another war. Which credit card would we use for this one?

    April 28, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Soyna

    McCain is basically an agent of a foreign power (Israel) at this point.

    April 28, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Whatever

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

    Mr. McCain, angry and bitter Americans need help. Charity begins at home.

    April 28, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Peter

    We're facing massive cuts here and McCain wants us to start another war! Where are we going to get the money? We need to help ourselves first. Let the other allies help for once. In fact every nation should be trying to resolve this. There is not point in having a United Nations if all they do is nothing!

    April 28, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Herb Lightle

    McCain probably has stock in a weapons manufacturing company.

    April 28, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. Zoglet

    He does not mean 'help' – he means death and destruction and removal of any remaining stability. No one needs help like that.

    April 28, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Carlos

    Today, I read on the first page of the New York times that the Syrian rebels are Al Qaeda or very close partners of Al Qaeda. The article is as conclusive as it can gets. The "friends" that are advising us in that region, have their own agendas. They are not our friends, and McCain is obsolete.

    April 28, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. JMorcan

    The dirty word is "Help." It always means money. Money the average citizen works hard for. Money politicians are eager to steal. Money we don't have. Money that is quickly becoming worthless. If there ever was a democracy of the people, this isn't it.

    April 28, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Richard Larson

    Why doesn't he just declare that he is a Jew and emigrate to Israel where he can beat the drums for going to war with impunity. We would have to pay for it anyway, but American lives wouldn't be at risk. I am sure the Israeli Air Force and Army know exactly where the hot spots are so there wouldn't be a waste of time. This kind of deal would work out well since our economy would get the bump from increased munitions manufacturing orders and the administration would have a legitimate place to dump the surplus of ammunition being produced right now and thereby keep it out of civilian hands.

    April 28, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Steven Harnack

    Thank the stars that we have someone in charge who doesn't immediately accept everything at face value and rush into action on flimsy "evidence" that was "found" it seems by the Israelis, who just happen to be very, very eager to get us into Syria so we will have military literally surrounding Iran to the point where something is bound to happen, some more suddenly found intelligence, that will lead to open warfare. Who actually used the alleged Sarin? Was Assad or was it the rebels or was it the Israelis? Any "red lines" should be the business of the United Nations and if they can't agree, well, that's that!

    April 28, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. godoflunaticscreation

    McCain, is ready to send our sons to bleed in order to preemptively secure Israel's borders. NO THANKS!!!

    April 28, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. waheid

    McCain: ever so eager for military action.

    April 28, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. VEW2012

    What is wrong with McPain? Doesn't he understand we can't keep being the world police force ...or keep sending our young people as cannon fodder?
    Plus... he still hasn't grasp that we need another war like we need to be another trillion in debt...and he seems to have overlooked the very serious fact that he lost in 2008. Thank Heaven that man will never be President!

    April 28, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Chipster

    First of all, Sen. McCain, can you identify the Al Qaeda members before we hand them any weapons? Second, how do you plan to pay for it?

    April 28, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Larry

    The next time a Republican runs for president – let's remember where they stand on war. Doesn't matter to them where but war is what they want. How about a war on poverty? How about a war on starvation? How about a war on mental illness? Not for any of those are they? No money to be made. How about a war on pollution? How about a war on ignorance? No republicans interested in stopping anything if it doesn't make them richer:)

    April 28, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Concernicus

    McCain: "Angry and bitter." Could have ended the article right there. An angry, bitter old man who needs to go away.

    April 28, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Sarah

    I don't think so senator. We saved Iraq and got no oil revenue in return. They hate us and embezzled billions of us taxpayers dollars "rebuilding" their country. I'm not signing up for Syria.

    April 28, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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