The senators’ statements supporting arming the opposition went beyond the Obama administration’s public comments about Syria. After Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria this month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the United States would continue to “support the opposition’s peaceful political plans for change,” but then added: “Many Syrians, under attack from their own government, are moving to defend themselves, which is to be expected.”
Still, the administration has made a point of working through the Arab League and the United Nations rather than giving the appearance that the United States is trying to intervene in Syria, in part to avoid giving Iran any excuse to get involved on behalf of its regional ally, analysts say.
The senators, on the other hand, cited Iran as a major reason for action in Syria, even if only indirectly.
Mr. McCain said the United States would not have to send weapons directly to the opposition but could work through “third-world countries” and the Arab League.
Mr. Graham also endorsed arming those who are fighting Mr. Assad, and he suggested that the Arab League, which has called for Mr. Assad’s departure, could be a conduit. A byproduct of a more interventionist policy would be to weaken Iran.
“Breaking Syria apart from Iran could be as important to containing a nuclear Iran as sanctions,” Mr. Graham said. “If the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of government that doesn’t tie its future to the Iranians, the world is a better place.”Complicating the situation, of course, are Russia's long and deep ties with Syria (as this NYT piece notes), as well as the fact that Russia continues to send arms to the Assad regime.
I honestly have a difficult time seeing a way forward in all of this. But I have an even more difficult time looking to McCain and Graham (and I suppose Joe Lieberman will link arms with them any time now) for wisdom. Neither man has demonstrated any aversion to seeing as many Arabs die as are necessary to serve their conception of American interests - to which, of course, they see Israel's interests as tied umbilically. And as reported by the NYT, McCain seems to see the situation in Syria essentially as an opportunity to get at Iran.
And McCain, of course, came of age during the era of US-USSR confrontation and the Cold War. I suspect some mind-sets die very hard.
And here's an interesting thought, in part provoked by this CSM report: Do McCain and Graham fancy being on the same team with al-Qaeda?