Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., criticized President Barack Obama’s plans for limited air strikes on Syria as “cosmetic” Friday, saying the failure of the United States to intervene in the country’s civil war was “shameful.”
In an interview with "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, the veteran and former presidential hopeful repeated his call for Washington to arm Syria’s rebel Free Syrian Army in its fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad.
He acknowledged that there was little public appetite for U.S. military involvement, but said “the option of doing nothing, in my view, is even worse.”
He said: “I’m sure that all Americans have seen these horrible pictures of dead kids, children lined up, so then the question is ‘What do we do?’
“The president apparently wants to have a kind of a cosmetic strike, launch a few missiles and then say ‘Well, we responded.’ This is the same president that, two years ago, said Bashar Assad had to go.
“It’s also the president that said that there would be a red line if they used chemical weapons, maybe that red line was written in disappearing ink.”
He added: “To our everlasting shame, not one single weapon from the USA has reached the hands of General Idris and the Free Syrian Army. That is shameful, in my view.”
Asked by Leno what we he would do if here were president, McCain said: “I’d crater the runways, the six air fields that Bashar Assad uses. I’d prevent him from using his air power. I would get the weapons to the people who are fighting and dying as we speak, and I would probably get a safe zone… you could do that in one day and you would not put a single American in any danger because you could do it with standoff weapons.”
He said limited military strikes of the type reportedly planned by White house as early as this weekend could be “counter-productive” because “maybe Bashar Assad would say ‘See, I stood up to the Americans’.”
“I know Americans are war-weary… but I believe that we can prevail without American lives in danger,” he added.
This story was originally published on Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:21 AM EDT