The HillTube

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

McCain: Putting troops in Syria the ‘worst thing United States could do'

Comments begin at 1:59 mark.

An international coalition of troops should be ready to go into Syria to secure the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday, warning that U.S. troops on the ground would only spark more Mideast anger.

But McCain said that putting troops in Syria is the “worst thing United States could do right now,” because the Syrian people are bitter and angry at the United States.

“I think that the American people are weary. They don’t want boots on the ground. I don’t want boots on the ground,” McCain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But McCain urged the Obama administration to take several actions in Syria, such as arming rebel groups or establishing a safe zone, steps he and other GOP hawks have long pressed for.

ADVERTISEMENT
There has been a large push among lawmakers for the administration to do more in Syria after the White House said it has some evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces used chemical weapons, which could cross President Obama’s “red line.”

Obama has taken a cautious approach since, however, saying that he wants to corroborate the evidence before moving forward.

McCain, one of the most outspoken lawmakers on Syria, said Sunday that it should not matter whether Assad used chemical weapons. Even if they had not been used, McCain argued, Assad’s forces have committed atrocities already and killed tens of thousands.

McCain said that Obama’s red line gave Assad a “green light” to do everything short of use chemical weapons.


“Our actions should not be dictated on whether Bashar Assad used chemical weapons or not,” McCain said. “First of all, sooner or later he most likely would in order to maintain his hold on power.”

McCain said that an international force would be needed on the ground in Syria in order to secure chemical and biological weapons in the event Assad falls.

“There’s a number of caches of chemical weapons that cannot fall into hands of the jihadists,” McCain said.