The following is a letter I received from Senator John McCain recently regarding the war in Syria. It spells out the Senators position on Syria very clearly!
The letter is completely unedited and in its entirety – except for my current address and location, which has been intentionally removed for security reasons.
October 7, 2013
Mr. Robert Tilford
(Address removed for security reasons)
Dear Mr. Tilford:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent events in Syria. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
You may be aware of Syria’s recent history. In 2011, the Regime of Bashar al-Assad responded to pro-democracy Syrian protestors by deploying his army, triggering a wave of violence that continues to the present. Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns of the Syrian people, the Assad regime has crushed peaceful demonstrations, unjustly imprisoned thousands of protestors, and slaughtered more than 110,000 people, indiscriminately using chemical weapons, firing artillery into neighborhoods, and overrunning villages with tanks and warplanes. Syria is now engaged in a full-fledged civil war which threatens to become a regional conflict and there is no end in sight to this oppression and slaughter.
It remains clear to me that only the threat of potential military action against the Assad regime and its chemical weapons capabilities can potentially yield the negotiated weapons turnover plan brokered by Moscow. I am hopeful that this will happen, but at the same time, all of us need to be realistic about this situation.
We should not trust, and we must verify. The only credible way for the Obama Administration to test the Russian proposal is to immediately introduce a U.N. Security Council Resolution that spells out in clear, detailed terms exactly what the international community should expect of the Assad regime if it is serious about abandoning its weapons of mass destruction. Assad will use the months and months afforded to him to delay and deceive the world using every trick in Saddam Hussein’s playbook. It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the Obama Administration being led into a blind alley by Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. No one trusts Assad’s sincerity. And there is little reason to have more faith in Russia, especially when President Putin himself still insists that the Syrian opposition was responsible for the use of chemical weapons. This is why enforcement is so critical. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s claim that the threat of force remains on the table rings somewhat hollow in light of the events of the past few weeks.
Even worse, the Russian proposal to remove chemical weapons does nothing to resolve the real problem in Syria, which is the underlying conflict that has killed 110,000 people, driven millions from their homes, destabilized our friends and allies in the region, emboldened Iran and its terrorist proxies, and become a safe haven for thousands of Al-Qaeda affiliated extremists. Is the message of this agreement that Assad is now our negotiating partner, and that he can go on slaughtering innocent civilians and destabilizing the Middle East using every tool of warfare, so long as he does not use chemical weapons? That is morally and strategically indefensible.
As awful as chemical weapons are, and as much as we all want them taken away from Assad, they are just one symptom of the deteriorating conflict in Syria. We need a strategy to end this war as soon as possible, because the longer it goes the worse it gets. That strategy must degrade the military capabilities of the Assad regime, upgrade the military capabilities of the moderate opposition, shift the momentum on the battlefield, and thereby create conditions for a negotiated end to the conflict and the removal from power of Assad and his top henchmen.
For the reasons stated above, Congress should still proceed to consider and vote on the authorization for use of force. This will give the President additional leverage to press Russia and Syria to make good on their proposal to take the weapons of mass destruction out of Assad’s hands, and also turn the tide against the tyrannical rule of the Assad regime.
Let’s be clear—no one wants to be involved in Syria. But the reality is we are involved. We are more involved today than one year ago. We were more involved one year ago than two years ago. And we will almost certainly be more involved next year than we are now – only then, the conflict will be worse, and we will have worse and fewer options to address it. But eventually we will have to address it, not because we want to, but because our interests, and the security of our friends and allies, require it.
Once again, thank you for writing to me on this very important and dynamic issue. I am passionate about this issue and take my positions and responsibilities very seriously. I thank you for your input, respect your stance, and will keep your concerns in mind as we move forward.
United States Senator