Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Sunday said the U.S. should not rule out the use of American troops on the ground to end the violence in Syria’s civil war or secure the nation’s stockpile of chemical weapons.
“I don’t think you ever want to rule it out,” said McCaskill on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “This thing has really deteriorated and it’s not really at a tipping point, so I don’t think you ever want to say absolutely not.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) who also appeared on CBS, however, disagreed and said he would rule out American boots on the ground.
“I would say no, I think we can take affirmative action… We’ve got F-22s and B-2s that can take out the anti-aircraft missiles that they have and they are very sophisticated.
“We don’t need to put boots on the ground what we need to do is enable their neighbors, the neighbors of Syria to bring some sort of peaceful resolution to this. We can do it through a no fly zone,” added Chambliss.
McCaskill clarified her remarks, saying she agreed that there were other steps the U.S. could take but that the spiraling violence and threat that instability could spread through the region said that other options should remain on the table.
“If we take the bomber action that may lead to something else and that’s really what I’m referring to in terms of you never want to say absolutely never any boots on the ground because Iran is busy here, Iran is very busy here as is Hezbollah,”
The senators' comments come days after the White House said it had evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, crossing a “red line” established by President Obama. The administration has said they need more time to confirm the evidence, amid growing calls from lawmakers to do more to aid opposition forces seeking the ouster of strongman Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“I think we’re developing contingencies. The president along with our military leadership is working very hard right now to figure out the best way to keep Syria from becoming the fragmented state that could be a home and haven for terrorists,” said McCaskill.
“People don’t realize how much work is going on. The president met with the King of Jordan this week, Secretary of State is busy with all of our allies in the area trying to figure out what we can do surgically that will get the result we want without making the problem even worse.”
McCaskill agreed with the administration that more time was needed before formulating a response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
“What we don’t know, we don’t have a conclusive chain of evidence at this point as to where the order came from. Was this a rogue guy that decided to do this or was this truly a decision by the government in Syria to implement the use of these,” said McCaskill.
“We’ve got to make sure we know before we base our actions on that.”
Chambliss, however, disagreed with McCaskill, saying “we know where the order came from.”
Chambliss said he feared the unrest in Syria could spread throughout the entire region. “This is more than an Arab Spring uprising,” he said. “More than demonstrating in the streets. Its out and out war.
“The world is watching, we’ve got 70,000 dead people in that part of the world as a result of Bashar Assad. We as America have never let something like that happen before,” said the Georgia senator.