August 22nd, 2013
10:00 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain on Syria: Time is running out

(CNN) - While watching horrifying images of a possible chemical attack near Damascus, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona grew impassioned when he warned Thursday that time was running out to take action in Syria.

"When does the United States, with very little cost, stand up for these people and stop this horrific - you can't look at those pictures without being deeply moved. Are we just going to let that go on?" the Arizona Republican said on CNN's "New Day."

Anti-regime activist groups in Syria say more than 1,300 people were killed in the attack outside Damascus Wednesday, many of them women and children.

McCain said he did not have any doubt that chemical weapons were used after seeing the pictures. He said he was certain President Bashar al-Assad's regime would use the chemical weapons again "unless they are reined in and prevented from doing so".

When asked what realistically the Obama administration can do to prevent future atrocities by the Assad regime, McCain said there were concrete steps the U.S. could take without physically putting U.S. boots on the ground.

"We could take out the runways and take out the 40 or 50 aircrafts they're using which is dominating the battlefields in the towns and the cities and we can supply the right kind of weapons to rebels to establish a no fly zone by using...moving patriot missiles up to the border," McCain assured that all those steps could be done without putting "a single (American) life at risk."

The senator reiterated that U.S. credibility was at all-time low in the region because of inaction and not doing anything would give "a blank check to other brutal dictators around the world if they want to use chemical weapons."

McCain referred to President Barack Obama's comments made about a year ago in which the president stated that use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would constitute crossing a "red line."

"When the president of the United States says that if he (Bashar al-Assad) uses these weapons, that it would be a 'red line and a game changer' he (Bashar al-Assad ) now sees that as a green light and that is the word of the president of the United States can no longer be taken seriously as it isn't throughout the entire region."

The Syrian government denied the claims on state-run media Wednesday, calling them "completely baseless."

CNN could not immediately verify where or when the videos were recorded, and could not authenticate the number killed or injured.

A United Nations chemical weapons inspection team is currently in place and trying to get access to the area where the attack took place.

Filed under: John McCain • Syria
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. rick7809

    Another republican call to war. McCain is an old soldier and a soldier believes that every problem can be solved with violence, or instilling fear of violence. He is too eager to pull the trigger.

    August 22, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. The Great Pontificator

    Mccain may be a hero for his role in Vietnam, but he is way off the mark now. As bad as the current leaders of Syria are, the rebels, if successful will be rife with Muslim Brotherhood and their success will be the downfall of us all

    August 22, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. geg

    what about the pictures of children cut in half at sandy hook, or do you only care about Syrian kids McCain .and how much money are you going to make under the table with your Syrian deal

    August 22, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Reality

    Why does it have to be notated "many of them women and children" as if they deserve some kind of special consideration over the men who also died?

    August 22, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. g

    time is running out for your whole party McCain trying to get another war going before 2014.maybe you should pay off the debt from last republican got nothing in return wars first

    August 22, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Romy Monteyro

    McCain wants the U.S. to help the rebels in Syria. Problem is, the rebels are mostly Islamists, read al Qaeda. If we arm them or help them in any other way to remove Assad from power, all non-Muslim Syrians will have to leave Syria or be annihilated. What would McCain suggest the U.S. do when the rebels, afer they topple Assad, turn on the Syrian Christians, the Shiites and others? When the Islamists starts killing Assad loyalists will McCain urge his buddy Barack to send in the Marines to "liberate" the Syrians from the Islamists? But the bigger question is, what if Assad's alleged stockpile of chemical weapons fall in the hands of al Qaeda? Go figure. The U.S. is between a rock and a hard place as far as Syria is concerned. Help the rebels win and Syria becomes a Islamist state which will definitely be hostile to the U.S. and Israel. If we do nothing and Assad prevails, Syria will remain as it is, but not really a threat to us or even Israel. If the rebels win, with or without our help, a Islamist state will emerged. Those are the two evils. Given the choice, let us opt for the lesser evil which is to allow Assad to stay in power. McCain's idea will simply create a monster similar to what that mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein made.

    August 22, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |