McCain and Graham on Syria: Obama’s “red line” has been crossed, so it’s time to take action

posted at 7:21 pm on March 19, 2013 by Allahpundit

And so the effort by the Senate’s super-hawks to mainstream Rand Paul’s isolationism by contrast continues apace.

“We are extremely disturbed by reports that chemical weapons have been used today in Syria. President Obama has said that the use of weapons of mass destruction by Bashar Assad is a ‘red line’ for him that ‘will have consequences.’ If today’s reports are substantiated, the President’s red line has been crossed, and we would urge him to take immediate action to impose the consequences he has promised. That should include the provision of arms to vetted Syrian opposition groups, targeted strikes against Assad’s aircraft and SCUD missile batteries on the ground, and the establishment of safe zones inside Syria to protect civilians and opposition groups. If today’s reports are substantiated, the tragic irony will be that these are the exact same actions that could have prevented the use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria.”

Leave it to McCain and Graham to choose the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq to call for deeper intervention into a Baathist-run country over dubious claims involving WMD. Quick question: Leaving aside the fact that no one has yet substantiated that chemical weapons were in fact used — on the contrary, there’s reason for doubt — does it matter at all that each side is accusing the other of having used the weapons? It’s likelier that Assad is the culprit if this even happened but it’s possible that it came from the rebels themselves. In fact, the whole argument for intervening in Syria is that Assad’s chemical weapons might fall into the wrong hands eventually and be used against innocents. Well, in the near term the hands they’re most likely to fall into are … the rebels’, and there are enough jihadis among them to leave it an open question about who’s really behind yesterday’s massacre. Yet here are McCain and Graham insisting that Assad’s crossed the “red line” and therefore it’s time to start arming the same opposition that stands accused of the attack. There are monsters on both sides in Syria, which is why even many hawks are reluctant to intervene. But Maverick has a habit of viewing groups like this through rose-colored glasses, so go figure that he’d grasp at a reason to push the U.S. in a bit further.

None of that’s surprising. This is a little surprising, though. Calls for a no-fly zone over Syria from … Carl Levin?

Levin chaired a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning during which he asked Adm. James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, if NATO was discussing attacking Assad’s air defenses. Stavridis acknowledged the idea was under discussion but said there was no unified NATO position on the issue…

“I believe there should be the next ratcheting up of military effort and that would include going after some of Syria’s air defenses,” Levin said [after the hearing].

Regarding the establishment of a no-fly zone inside Syria, Levin said that would help both protect innocent civilians and speed the end of the conflict.

“You could protect that kind of a zone with these Patriot missiles, leaving the missiles in Turkey but having the zone inside the Syrian border,” he said. “It is a way without putting boots on the ground and in a way that would be fairly cautious, that would put additional pressure on Assad and also create a zone where Syrian people who are looking for protection and safety could come without crossing the border and becoming refugees.”

That makes me wonder if the chemical-attack story is more credible than we think. Maybe Levin — and McCain, and Graham — have heard from U.S. intelligence that it looks legit and this is his way of getting out in front of the debate that’s coming this week about what Obama should do. Just as I’m writing this, in fact, CNN’s running a chyron claiming that there’s a “high probability” chemical arms were used yesterday in Syria and citing the chairs of the House and Senate Intel Committees as their sources. Graham has already suggested putting American boots on the ground (of course) to secure the weapons, which, in fairness, would probably be an option considered by O. There have been rumors for ages about U.S. Special Ops training to enter Pakistan and grab their nukes if necessary. Hard to believe there aren’t similar teams tasked with grabbing Assad’s chemical weapons, although of course the Pentagon will deny it.

Exit question: What if Assad hasn’t in fact (yet) used WMD and O declares anyway that it’s time for the U.S. to act? What’s Assad’s incentive at that point to keep holding back?

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


I am not sending my two sons to die in the deserts of the Middle East for Syria, Egypt or Israel. If the Jews and the Egyptians want to thrash it out, so be it.

You won’t, but others will go. Barry has to do his part in the expansion of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Got my duffles packed and am ready to go on my next thrilling military adventure!
Best part is Syria has a beach!

LincolntheHun on March 20, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Put a cork in it, you old wine bottle.

MelonCollie on March 20, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Why should we risk blood and treasure for people that if given a chance would slit our throats?

let them kill themselves. they seem to want to why step in the middle of it. Sryia is a mess but they aren’t Iran who attakced us nor are they lybia who blew up 300 americans over scotland. We have no dog in this fight. Just stay home and let our enemies kill each other.

unseen on March 19, 2013 at 7:26 PM

That wouldn’t be profitable in the short term now would it?

preallocated on March 20, 2013 at 11:09 AM

I am sick and tired of American blood and treasure going into Muslim countries who hate us anyway. Let them kill each other.

mustng66 on March 20, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Those two make the Odd Couple look normal!

tomshup on March 20, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Both sides suck. Stay out.

GardenGnome on March 20, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Dear Senators Graham and McCain:

You like to go out and have dinner with the President and otherwise ingratiate yourself with the left by being just like them but…. I can’t help but noticing you are the first on the scene to attack your fellow Republicans for doing stuff like filibustering over the administration’s STATED assertion that they could kill Americans on American soil without due process. Yet where were you two self-promoted “war heros” yesterday when Harry Reid tried to get away with blaming the training exercise deaths of those seven Marines was a result of sequestration?

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Bad day for South Carolina: Mark Sanford and Miss Lucy.

bw222 on March 20, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Those idiots killing each other is none of my business.

forest on March 20, 2013 at 11:49 AM

No intervention unless US interests are affected.

From now on no more attempts to occupy those heathen Islamic lands: punitive expeditions only when necessary.

Sherman1864 on March 20, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Sadly, this reminds me of “The Gulf of Tonkin Affair”. We know how that turned out!
America needs to stay out, keep Iran OUT and punish the Turks for allowing Saddam Hussein’s WMDs to be transported, unrestricted to Syria. Along with a convoy full of American dollars too.
Maroons. These mouthy “hawks” have no idea what are the unintended consequences.
It’s SYRIA’S civil war, NOT ours!

Karl Magnus on March 20, 2013 at 11:54 AM

But at the end of the day, we have the power and thus we have the moral responsibility to make things right. How can you lot call yourselves conservatives, “pro-life”, and not see a moral imperative to help stem the flow of blood? It’s hypocritical.

There doesn’t have to be an imminent, direct threat to American national security to compel action.

solatic on March 20, 2013 at 3:19 AM

And, whose side should the US take?

That of Assad, who is backed by Iran, Russia, and China, OR the rebels, who ARE al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and are backed by the anti-Semitic Turks and the Egyptians, who believe that Jews are descendants from apes and pigs and 9/11/01 was an “inside job”?

BTW: Obama has already been arming the rebels…just as he did in Libya before they killed Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Ty Woods and wounded dozens.

Resist We Much on March 20, 2013 at 11:55 AM

I am really not interested in what Rand Paul’s position is on Syria or immigration.

All I know — and what the Beltway types refuse to understand, specifically including Bill Kristol — is that Rand Paul stood and fought Obama, held his ground, and put some skin in the game.

I don’t care if our people come after Obama from the right, the left, from above, sideways, or below. At least Rand Paul is fighting and in so doing weakening Obama by the day.

matthew8787 on March 20, 2013 at 11:57 AM

I am sick and tired of American blood and treasure going into Muslim countries who hate us anyway.

Barry isn’t. American blood and treasure are his to use in supporting the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood worldwide. And everywhere new we go we also get a lot more muslims fast tracked for immigration here adding to our own internal problems. escaping the bloody turmoil in which Barry insists on getting us involved.

Helps strengthen them and weakens us, and increases muslim influence in the US.

For Barry and his friends its a total win-win-win situation.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2013 at 11:57 AM

McCain and his girlfriend Lindsey have never seen a nation they wouldn’t want to invade.

The best policy for America would be to get our OWN oil and gas so we can let these Turd World Krapistans go back to the 7th Century where they belong.

wildcat72 on March 20, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Oh come on you doom and gloomers! It’s not like we have a debt crisis or anything (Both the President and Speaker of the House said so) so let’s tap into those unused dollars just sitting around waiting to be spent and embark on a glorious adventure!
“Marching from victory to victory”

LincolntheHun on March 20, 2013 at 12:05 PM

From a purely political point of view I can only hope Obama would be idiotic enough to involve our troops and money in Syria. I don’t think the public would support it and if the GOP tacks more toward the Rand Paul view, or even the Ronald Reagan view, of foreign policy and national defense the GOP would gain a political victory and a big one.

From a national patriotic American point of view (in other words not political) it would be another debacle for the country as a whole. No political victory is worth the loss of troops and money in a place like Syria. So I hope Obama finds his hippy side on this issue and does not get involved…for the sake of the country.

William Eaton on March 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM

How ’bout defending our southern border instead, you treasonous sh!tbags? As a Guardsman and a DOD employee, I just had to sign the notification informing me I’m going to be losing a month’s pay … but hey, illegals need amnesty and foodstamps, right?

F*** Syria. Go fight it yourselves. And then give it away. Again.

M240H on March 20, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Sit down McCain your time as a useful idiot has passed.

pat on March 20, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Obama’s “red line” is drawn with disappearing ink. Like everything else with him, it has a very fast expiration date.

petefrt on March 20, 2013 at 12:43 PM

So they’re volunteering to go in as mercenaries? Good.

Ward Cleaver on March 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Once there is a genuine looking chemical strike that can be blamed on the Regime, irrespective of the reality, Russia can no longer keep out the Western Powers and Assad is gone. Until this, or something similar occurs the war will continue. As soon as the excuse is provided we will have yet another Muslim Brotherhood regime installed and the circle around Israel tightens.

Liam1304 on March 20, 2013 at 1:27 PM

I see the PaulBots have taken over the board.

While I cannot figure out the downside of letting two enemies kill each other off with whatever weapons they have available to them, I find this head-in-the-sand isolationism disturbing.

This is the bicentenial of America’s participation the Napoleonic Wars. We just call it the War of 1812. How did a third rate country on the other side of the world get involved in a European War against the mighty British Empire? I guess even in the early 19th Century we couldn’t keep our noses out of other peoples’ business. Why we just should have stayed home and kept out of it. Oh, I forgot we passed the embargo act to keep our people safe at home. It just nearly bankrupted the country.

It all just proves Leon Trotsky’s saying: “You might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

jerryofva on March 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM

By the way, McCain …I suppose a little humility
Marcus Traianus on March 19, 2013 at 7:41 PM

McCain and humilty are much like Madonna and chastity…..

Don L on March 20, 2013 at 2:53 PM

I say arm both sides and hope for complete mutual destruction.

Tater Salad on March 20, 2013 at 3:10 PM

“This is the bicentenial of America’s participation the Napoleonic Wars. We just call it the War of 1812. ”

A poor example. We got involved in that war despite the fact that all our war aims were achieved at the conference table several weeks prior. Had the telegraph existed at the time, the war would never have been fought. It was also, from a military point of view, a disaster. Our trade was driven from the ocean, and our invasion of Canada failed. We were lucky to get out of it with as few setbacks as we did.

The Barbary pirates would be a better example to illustrate your point.

Even so. I think there’s a distinct difference between “invade Tripoli because they’re pirating American ships” and “invade a middle eastern country because SOMEONE makes dubious claims chemical weapons are being used.” I’ve had just about enough of military adventures, especially given our current track record of making complete messes of them.

pendell2 on March 20, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Why not let the Israelis settle it? They seem to have the most to lose in this fight. They won’t intervene, of course, unless they are directly threatened, but they’ve been known to leave a few large, smoking holes in Syrian territory after perceived threats. Go for it, guys. Let us know when you’re ready for tanker support to go get the Iranians, too.

jclittlep on March 20, 2013 at 4:55 PM

It all just proves Leon Trotsky’s saying: “You might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

jerryofva on March 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM

So Jerry, have we gotten any real info on Benghazi and all those missing weapons in Libya yet? I wonder if all the rumors that many of those guns and fighters from there have ended up fighting in Syria? Or “what difference does it make”?

oryguncon on March 20, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Who cares what methods Muslims use to kill each other?

I say, give both sides mustard gas shells and howitzers before we send in one Marine.

And after we give both sides mustard gas shells and howitzers, send in no Marines.

Then after we send in no Marines, give both sides Sarin gas shells and howitzers.

Then never send in the Marines.

Akzed on March 20, 2013 at 5:28 PM

No Muslim, no cry.

Akzed on March 20, 2013 at 5:29 PM

jerryofva on March 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m no Paul bot. The idjits in DC don’t know how to conduct a war, so we need to stay out of there.

dogsoldier on March 20, 2013 at 6:45 PM

They are killing each other, they are quite efficient at it.

booger71 on March 20, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Answer to my critics:

First, what did I write that would make someone think I would support US intervention in Syria or I supported intervention in Libya? Unlike most of you Pudknockers I actually had an official position during Libya and my memoranda were scathing. I was just making an observation that many posters believe that there are no circumstances where the US should intervene anywhere and anytime and somehow we would never get involved in military conflicts.

Pendell: You utterly failed to understand the point. Whether the British withdrew the orders in Council or not isn’t the point. The fact that we got to the point of going to war should tell you that isolation is no proof against getting involved in foreign wars. In letter to John Adams after the war Thomas Jefferson said the biggest mistake he ever made was canceling the Adams’ naval plans. He believed that had he built the Navy that Adams wanted the British would not have risked going to war with the United States by impressing American sailors in the first place.

The only reason that the British withdrew the Orders in Council was that the naval threat from France was over by 1812. Their decision was based on the European situation and not a surrender to US demands. The peace settlement was a return to the status quo ante. Britain refused to give up the right of impressment in some future European conflict.

The Canadians were the big winner. We were the big losers. The British were on the verge of victory at Plattsburg when the British commander withdrew his forces after the naval defeat on Lake Champlain. Had he pressed on despite the defeat on the waters Albany would now be part of Canada. We got lucky at New Orleans. Right man, right place, right time.

Dogsoldier: To paraphrase Secretary Rumsfeld: “You go to war with the leadership you have, not the leadership you wish you had.”

jerryofva on March 20, 2013 at 10:58 PM


“You utterly failed to understand the point. Whether the British withdrew the orders in Council or not isn’t the point. The fact that we got to the point of going to war should tell you that isolation is no proof against getting involved in foreign wars.”


” In letter to John Adams after the war Thomas Jefferson said the biggest mistake he ever made was canceling the Adams’ naval plans. He believed that had he built the Navy that Adams wanted the British would not have risked going to war with the United States by impressing American sailors in the first place.”

I concede that we need to prepare for war if we want to have peace. I also concede that, however great a disaster the war of 1812 was, the fact that we could at least credibly threaten it is a big reason American seaman haven’t faced impressment since.

That said, the overall discussion of this thread is not: Should Americans never intervene EVER, ANYWHERE. The question is: Should we or should we not intervene in Syria?

I contend the answer is : no. Because we have, over the past twenty years , indulged in a number of optional wars (Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq) and as a result our influence in these regions is far more limited than it would have been if we had not got involved.

Yes, we go to war with the leadership we have. But I think we also need to count the cost before going to war. It’s pretty obvious after the fact that the US was unwilling to commit the resources or the time to do a proper job rebuilding Iraq OR Afghanistan, and thus we should have restricted ourselves to punitive expeditions. The US of 2012 is not the US of 1945 or even of 1988.

I think that military power is an excessively blunt instrument for making the world a better place, and I think that over the past thirty years we’ve done a pretty poor job of using it for that purpose. So I think a couple of years, or even a couple of decades, of focusing on our own issues domestically and other people around the world solve THEIR problems without our “help” would be all to the good. Save the military interventions for when A) they really are in our vital national interest B) There is some prospect of actually improving the situation with them.

So far as I can tell, the best thing we could do in Syria if we intervened would be to help Assad crush the rebels. After all, if there ARE chemical weapons in Syria he and his family have successfully kept them under control and not used them on Israel. The Islamist rebels have no such track record.

I don’t think we’ve got the stomach for that after spending so much energy demonizing Assad. But we’d be fools to help the rebels overthrow him and bring Sharia law and extremism to yet another middle east country. We have no good options , and every option gets Americans killed. So we should stay out of it.

pendell2 on March 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM

We’re sending 100’s of billions of $ to Arab countries for their oil. Let them pay and defend another God-forsaken Arab hell-hole. I really don’t care if they kill each other; either way we go, they’ll still hate us. Also, aren’t these the people that celebrated when the planes hit the towers in NYC?

lperello on March 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM