McCain: Time for 'game-changing action' in Syrian conflict

Former GOP presidential nominee John McCain called on the Obama administration to take “game-changing action” in Syria following reports of Israeli strikes.

ADVERTISEMENT
The senator from Arizona told Fox News on Sunday that the administration risks its credibility if it doesn't respond now that Bashar Assad appears to have crossed the president's “red line” by using chemical weapons. He warned against an incremental escalation he said failed in Vietnam.

“We need to have a game-changing action; and that is, no American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone and protect it, and to supply weapons to the right people in Syria,” said McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees.

“The whole situation is becoming more and more expansive. And unfortunately the red line that the president of the United States [set] is apparently written in disappearing ink.”

He said the president should never have drawn the red line, which Assad used as a “green light” to “do anything short” of using chemical weapons – until now. He said the Israeli strikes create new pressure on the administration to take action because it demonstrates that concerns about Syria's air defenses, voiced by the military brass from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey on down, are overblown.

“The Israelis seem to be able to penetrate it fairly easily,” McCain said. “One thing I've learned about some of our military leaders: If they don't want to do something, they can invent lots of ways not to do it. The fact is, we are capable of taking out their air [defenses] on the ground with cruise missiles, cratering their runways.”

President Obama has said he's keeping all his options open if U.S. intelligence determines there's been “systematic use” of chemical weapons inside of Syria, but does “not foresee” deploying U.S. troops on the ground.