Meet the Press   |  April 28, 2013

McCain: ‘Our actions should not be dictated’ by Assad

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., visits Meet the Press to discuss the recent uprising in Syria and the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> as you know the white house said this week after this intelligence estimate came out about the use of chemical weapons that the case that syria actually did that is not airtight. what do you say?

>> well, it may not be airtight. the israelis and the british are far more affirmative in their assessment of it. but, david, we should not be -- our actions should not be dictated by whether bashar al assad used these chemical weapons or not. first of all, sooner or later he most likely would in order to maintain his hold on power. but what has happened here is the president drew a red line about chemical weapons thereby giving a green light to bashar al assad to do anything short of that including scud missiles and helicopter gun ships and air strikes and mass executions and atrocities that are on a scale that we have not seen in a long, long time.

>> so the president says that this is a red line if confirmed, and he said back in august it would change my calculus. it would change my equation. what would you have him do at this point?

>> well, for about two years as this situation has deteriorated in a very alarming fashion, affected the surrounding countries, destabilized lebanon, destabilized jordan, and has had implications and repercussions throughout the region, we have said that they need a no-fly zone which could be obtained without using u.s. manned aircraft. we could use patriot missiles, patriot batteries and cruise missiles to take out their air and to supply the resistance with weapons. and, as you know, a flood of weapons is coming in from russia and iran. iranians are on the ground in syria, and it's an unfair fight. and unless we get to change this balance of power by not using incrementalism, then there's every risk of a stalemate that could go on for months and months while the jihadists flood in, while the sorting out the situation after he leaves becomes more and more complicated, and there's also the possibility that he could enact a plan "b," which is to withdraw to the coastal areas with an enclave that stretches from the golan heights all throughout and along the coast, and could be another long period of conflict.