Graham: Now is the time to take action in Syria

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on CBS' "Face the Nation," June 12, 2011.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Sunday called for increased U.S. action in Syria, and said "now is the time to let [Syrian president Bashar] Assad know that all options are the table" - including the possible use of military force.

Graham, in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," decried what he described as the Assad regime's "wholesale slaughter" against the Syrian people, and urged the U.S. to take a similar approach in that nation as it has in Libya in seeking the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi.

It's time, Graham contended, to "get the regional partners to tell the Assad he has to go. And put everything on the table - including military force."

"If we don't turn this dynamic around, the Red Cross can't go into Syria," he continued. "It's wholesale slaughter. We're about to get Qaddafi going. We need to turn our attention strongly to Syria with the regional cooperation like we have in Libya."

Syrian army troops and tanks attacked a northwestern city on Sunday, the latest act in an ongoing government crackdown against anti-government protests that have, since March, reportedly resulted in more than 1,400 deaths.

"If it made sense to protect the Libyan people against Qaddafi - and it did, because they were going to get slaughtered if we hadn't sent NATO in when he was on the outskirts of Benghazi -the question for the world is, have we gotten to that point in Syria?" asked Graham. "We may not be there yet but we're getting very close."

"If you really care about protecting the Syrian people from slaughter, now is the time to let Assad know that all options are the table," he urged. "It has gotten to the point where Qaddafi's behavior and Assad's behavior are indistinguishable."

Graham, who recently returned from an eight-day trip to Afghanistan, said he was "encouraged" by progress there, and said the U.S. was "now on offense." He warned, however, that intelligence shortcomings in Pakistan was "the biggest threat to our efforts in Afghanistan."

"We're on a collision course with Pakistan," Graham said. "If this doesn't change soon, I would urge the president to use more aggressive military force against safe havens in the Pakistan side of the border that they used to kill our troops and undermine progress in Afghanistan. This cannot sustain itself."