Sen. John McCain will call on a repeat performance of the kind of military operation that dislodged Muammar Qaddafi from Libya in Syria, asking the U.S. military to begin air strikes to protect Syrian opposition forces. In remarks leaked first to Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin, McCain’s speech on the Senate floor on Monday will argue, “The kinds of mass atrocities that NATO intervened in Libya to prevent in Benghazi are now a reality in Homs.”
McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also will add, “The ultimate goal of airstrikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad.” He concludes, “If Assad manages to cling to power — or even if he manages to sustain his slaughter for months to come, with all of the human and geopolitical costs that entails — it would be a strategic and moral defeat for the United States. We cannot, we must not, allow this to happen.”
Calling for air strikes is the logical next step for McCain, who just a couple weeks ago used similar rhetoric in arguing for arming the Syrian rebels. With Sen. Lindsay Graham at his side, McCain said then, “I believe there are ways to get weapons to the opposition without direct United States involvement.” He added that “if Western countries continue to fully support Syria’s opposition, then in the end a large-scale civil war will erupt and there will be no way to thus avoid the possibility of foreign armed intervention.” Well, it seems like it’s too late for that now, as recent violence suggests that a full scale civil war has probably already erupted.