"Face the Nation" transcript: April 15 with Sec. Geithner, Rep. Issa and Sen. McCain
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-Arizona/Armed Services Committee) (overlapping): Thanks, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about this Afghanistan deal.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (overlapping): Mm-Hm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: It sounds pretty serious. What do you know?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I think that it's probably a manifestation that the Taliban still has some strength. I think part of it is due to the fact that we have continued to send messages that we are leaving. The President as soon as he agree, announced a-- a surge of troops in Afghanistan, announced the withdrawal date, continues to emphasize withdrawal. And that's a bad news. I think the good news is that we have gotten rid of two major issues that stand in the way of a strategic partnership agreement--night raids and the issue of detention-- detainees.
By the way, Senator Lindsey Graham has done a tremendous job in that area, which I hope would send the message that the United States is going to be there in a strategic partnership with Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond. But every time the President announced another withdrawal, his military commander said it increases the risk. That's what we're seeing here.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to shift to the other side of the world because you're just back from the Syrian--
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (overlapping): Mm-Hm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --border. You were in Turkey. You talked to people over there. Syrian army this morning, we're told is again shelling the city of Homs. When you had a little news conference over there with our Clarissa Ward, you said something-- well, I'm going to just to play what-- what you told her.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I think it was a failure from the start. Most of us knew because there was no pressure for Bashar Assad to actually stop the killing. So we think it's going to require military action on the ground in order to get him to leave.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So I want to give you a chance to talk about that.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Sure, absolutely.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you talking about sending American troops in there?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Of course, not. I, you know, I have said and Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, and I have said continuously no boots on the ground, no unilateral action. But for the United States to sit by and watch this wanton massacre is a betrayal of everything that we stand for and believe in.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So what do we do?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: So, we, along with other countries-- and we lead for a change, lead, not-- not lead from be-- behind but lead from in front. Over there, they are waiting for American leadership. We have announced that we are now providing them with nonlethal equipment. That doesn't do very well against tanks and artillery. We met with the free Syrian army leadership. We met with the Syrian national council. In the refugee camps, we heard the stories of the murders, of the torture, of the rape that's going on.
And Kofi Annan's proposal-- by the way, among other things-- if it were enacted does not call for the removal of Bashar Assad. And I-- the President's policy is supposed to be the removal of this-- of this massacre of-- of his own people. So we need to get a sanctuary for the free Syrian army. We need to get them supplies. We need to get them weapons. And there are many ways to get weapons to them. We showed that in Libya. We showed in Afghanistan and many other times. It's not a fair fight. It's not a fair fight. And-- and so--
BOB SCHIEFFER: But, I mean are you-- are you talking about somehow supplying them with tanks and that-- and things of that nature?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Oh, no. But-- but antitank weapons might be very useful for them.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And what about troops on the ground?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Of course not, of course not.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Of any kind? I mean U.N., Arab?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: If-- I think we saw in Libya that there were other countries that did some work on the ground that are willing to do so. There's many countries in the region that are ready to act that are fed up with Bashar Assad. And we can lead and help coalesce-- coalesce a-- a group of-- of nations. And by the way, again, Russia and China continue to veto any significant effort that comes from the United Nations. Wouldn't-- how many times are we going to push that reset button? This-- it's time for the United States to lead. We went to Bosnia because ethnic cleansing was going on. We went to Kosovo because ethnic cleansing and massacres were going on and that was under President Clinton. We regretted that we didn't try to do what we could to stop the massacre in Rwanda. Well, the massacre is going on as we speak.
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