McCain: U.S. must help stop slaughter in Syria
U.S. Sens. John McCain, Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released the following statement on Syria on Friday:
Today's 'Friends of Syria' meeting in Tunisia of more than 60 countries and international organizations establishes a long-overdue and welcome forum for ending the Assad regime, stopping his relentless campaign of violence, and bolstering the legitimate forces of opposition to Assad's rule. This gathering underscores not only the international isolation of Assad, but also of his defenders and supporters in Russia, China, and Iran, whose continued, cynical embrace of Assad is a disgrace in the eyes of Arab nations and the entire civilized world.
Unfortunately, speeches and meetings by themselves will do nothing to stop the unacceptable slaughter in Syria, which is growing worse by the day. We remain deeply concerned that our international diplomacy risks becoming divorced from the reality on the ground in Syria, which is now an armed conflict between Assad's forces and the people of Syria who are struggling to defend themselves against indiscriminate attacks. What is needed urgently are tangible actions by the community of responsible nations to ensure that the Syrian people have the means to protect themselves against their attackers. This assistance should include access to weapons, tactical intelligence, communications equipment, financing, and medical supplies. We should also explore measures that can be taken to disrupt Assad's ability to command and control his forces. At the same time, we must do more to document the mass atrocities being perpetrated in Syria. It has been reported that unmanned aerial vehicles are now being flown over Syria to monitor sites containing weapons of mass destruction and related materials. This is appropriate, but unmanned aerial vehicles should also be tasked to document attacks on Syrian civilians by Assad's forces and to enable the Syrian opposition to defend against them. We should rule out no option that could help save lives.
The United States need not provide all of this assistance directly by ourselves. Indeed, we should continue to encourage the active involvement of Syria's neighbors, especially in the Arab League and Turkey. Still, if the community of responsible nations is to assist the Syrian people in bringing Assad's violent rule to an end, there can be no substitute for vigorous American leadership.
The situation in Syria is often compared to Libya last year. In fact, the better analogy may be to the Balkans in the 1990s. Then, as now, the civilized world was initially prevented at the United Nations by Russia and China from taking effective action against a vicious dictator who was slaughtering innocent civilians – forcing us to work outside the Security Council to end the violence. We must do so again.
John McCain is a Republican Senator from Arizona.