Hawkish senators call for aid, arms in Syria

Three senators known for their hawkish views on national security are pushing the Obama administration and its international allies to do more in Syria as the violence there continues, calling the international reaction thus far “divorced from the reality on the ground.”

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) issued a joint statement Wednesday evening urging the United States to consider providing humanitarian aid and arms to opposition groups in Syria.

ADVERTISEMENT
“The conflict in Syria is entering a critical new phase,” the senators said. “Assad’s slaughter of people in Syria, including dozens more killed today, is only increasing and growing more ruthless. In Libya, the threat of imminent atrocities in Benghazi mobilized the world to act. Such atrocities are now a reality in Homs and other cities all across Syria.”

The senators made a similar plea on Monday after a United Nations resolution on Syria was vetoed by China and Russia over the weekend.

The Obama administration has said it’s working with the international community to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power, but has not said that it would consider arming the rebels or getting involved militarily.

“We are pursuing a path that includes isolating and pressuring the Assad regime so that it stops its heinous slaughtering of its own people, and ... in the coming days we will continue our very active discussions with friends and allies who support the Syrian people, along with the opposition Syrian National Council,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

The three senators said that in order to stop the bloodshed in Syria, “we should rule out no option that could help to save lives.”

“We must consider, among other actions, providing opposition groups inside Syria, both political and military, with better means to organize their activities, to care for the wounded and find safe haven, to communicate securely, to defend themselves and to fight back against Assad’s forces,” they wrote.

“While tougher sanctions and the formation of an international contact group for Syria are welcome, the actions of the community of nations are increasingly divorced from the reality on the ground in Syria,” the senators said.