The PJ Tatler

McCain on Syria: 'I Know What Ronald Reagan Would Do'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice this week on CNN for the administration’s line on Syria.

Rice countered McCain’s proposal of humanitarian safe zones in speaking with Christiane Amanpour Tuesday. “I am being very plain about what the administration’s position is, that our strong preference is, and we think the bulk of the American people would like to see this resolved, if possible, through a combination of diplomatic pressure, economic pressure, support, nonlethal support to the opposition, rather than getting into what would be a much, much more complicated and involved war than ever we’ve considered in the context of Kosovo or Libya,” Rice said.

“I was listening to your interview with our ambassador to the U.N., basically what she’s saying, unless we get the Russians and the Chinese to go along, we do nothing,” McCain said on the show after Rice’s interview. “And somehow to think that increased, quote, ‘economic and diplomatic pressures’ will bring about a change in the situation on the ground, I think, is a fundamental misunderstanding of Bashar Assad and what he’s doing.”

“And first of all, fundamentally, it’s not a fair fight. The Russians are pouring arms into Syria. The Iranians are on the ground, rape, murder, atrocities, torture is taking place as we speak,” the senator added. “We know that around 10,000 people have been massacred, some under the most unspeakable circumstances. The ambassador said that we don’t know who the leadership is of the Free Syrian Army or the Syrian National Council. I do. I do. I’ve met with them. I know who they are.”

McCain was asked what he thought Mitt Romney would do as president to help Syria.

“I can’t commit for Candidate Romney. Only he can definitively make this statement,” McCain said. “But I know what Ronald Reagan would do. I know what he would do, and I know what he did. And I know what Bill Clinton did in Bosnia and Kosovo. I know what his greatest regret was, that we didn’t intervene in Rwanda.”

He noted that Syrians, Saudis, Turks and the Gulf states “are crying out for American leadership.”

“Not that we act unilaterally, but we act together in a way that’s most effective so that we can show American leadership and participation,” McCain said.

“I went to the refugee camps. I heard the stories — the murder, the torture, the rapes,” the senator added. “I wish that every American could have a chance to be moved as I was, and I’m a pretty tough guy. This has got to be brought to a stop. We can do that. And everybody will give you reasons why we can’t. I know America can with other nations.”