Meet the Press   |  June 16, 2013

Staying on the sidelines: What are the consequences?

Sen. Lindsey Graham advocates for the “no boots on the ground” strategy planned for assistance in Syria and the implications that American intervention will have in the region.

Share This:

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

>> senator, back to you. the question and the stakes, or rather, the consequences of staying on the sidelines. i mean, one of the things that is troubling, i think, to a lot of americans, to hear you, to hear senator mccain . senator mccain on the floor this week saying, look, we should have a no-fly zone, we should neutralize the advantages assad has, and says we could do that without risking a single american airplane. isn't that irresponsible given the iraq experience to say that we can take that first step on a slippery slope and it won't that be dangerous?

>> i don't think so, david. no boots on the ground is sort of everyone's position, including mine, because the rebels don't want us in there. i think you can neutralize the airpower clearing the runways from cruise missiles and set up a no-fly zone by having aircraft operating out of turkey and jordan to neutralize the airpower. what i would suggest is that if the war continues, how likely is it that iran will take us seriously when it comes to their nuclear program if we continue to act indecisively regarding assad 's syria? look what's happened to israel over the last year. their world is melting down. the russians are not hesitating in helping assad . hezbollah helped take back a town the rebels had just a few weeks ago. so, the balance of power is really now on assad 's side. as andrea said, he is winning, and it is not in our interests for him to win. and if we don't do more than add ak-47s into the mix, he will continue to win, and the king of jordan is going to become toast.

>> they have questions for you as well. i just want to put the staggering cost of this war -- i mentioned it in the open. let me put up a full-screen graphic of this. we are talking about more than 90,000 syrians killed over the last couple of years. this is online with bosnia now, as you look at that, and the number of kids under 10 years old being killed. it's very hard for americans to pay attention to something, sectarian conflict, so complicated and so insoluble in some ways, but those are the real costs.

>> and those are the costs, and a question for you, senator graham. i don't know how we resolve this, but if the jordans, for instance, with f-16s, were to crater the runways through a no-fly zone, how do we know where the chemical stockpiles are? how do we know they're not prepositioned on those very runways?

>> well, see, that's the ultimate question . you asked me about my biggest fear, would be lose the king of jordan would prolong more, that the elements of the rebels could end up seizing the chemical weapons cache, that assad would share chemical weapons or advanced russian weapons with hezbollah, which would be a direct threat. all i can say is that a political negotiation can only happen when the calculations on the ground change militarily, and the only way you do that is to stop the airpower advantage assad has. so, there are no good answers. i'm not here -- i say there's bipartisan support for more involvement in the senate than there was six months ago. i think everybody in america who watches this understands we can't just sit around and do nothing and give the rebels ak-47s. so, i think you can take the airpower advantage off the table by using cruise missiles . they don't have to be jordanian in nature.