Lieberman and McCain at Western Wall in 2008
Lieberman and McCain at Western Wall in 2008Israel news photo: Flash 90

U.S. Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsay Graham called for direct military aid for Syrian rebels in a Monday morning op-ed in The Washington Post. They warned that the Obama administration’s hands-off policy is allowing Al Qaeda terrorists to gain a foothold in the country.

McCain was the Republican party’s presidential candidate in 2008, and Graham is a senior GOP senator. Lieberman, now an Independent, is a former Democratic vice presidential candidate.

"The Obama administration’s hands-off approach is increasingly at odds with both America’s values and its interests.”

With a death rate of more than 100 a day in intense fighting between Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s forces and rebels, the senators warned that Assad’s “indiscriminate” use of fighter aircraft and tanks, along with assistance from Iran and Hizbullah, present a formidable obstacle for the opposition.

In addition, “Russia and China…continue to provide diplomatic cover for Assad’s brutality,” the op-ed stated.

“All evidence suggests that, rather than peacefully surrendering power, Assad and his allies will fight to the bitter end, tearing apart the country in the process,” the three senators continued.

“Because we have refused to provide the rebels the assistance that would tip the military balance decisively against Assad, the United States is increasingly seen across the Middle East as acquiescing to the continued slaughter of Arab and Muslim civilians….

“The United States has significant national security interests at stake in Syria. These include preventing the use or transfer of the regime’s massive chemical- and biological-weapons stockpiles – a real and growing danger – and ensuring that al-Qaeda and its violent brethren are unable to secure a new foothold in the heart of the Middle East. Our decisions and actions have been woefully insufficient to safeguard these interests and others…

“It is the lack of strong U.S. assistance to responsible fighters inside the country that is ceding the field to extremists there.”

They added that the Obama administration’s policy of standing aside has allowed a full-scale civil war to break out and has prolonged the bloody conflict that has taken the lives of nearly 20,000 people, most of them civilians.

They called for direct military assistance to the rebels, without sending American troops but possibly including “limited use of our airpower and other unique U.S. assets.”

The senators concluded that “inaction carries even greater risks for the United States – in lives lost, strategic opportunities squandered and values compromised.

“By continuing to sit on the sidelines of a battle that will help determine the future of the Middle East, we are jeopardizing both our national security interests and our moral standing in the world.”