Sen. John McCain charges that President Barack Obama is showing a "total lack of leadership" in the Middle East — and says Congress should authorize the president to use military force if necessary against Iran's nuclear weapons program.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey says the Obama administration is deliberating whether to use military power in Syria. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, McCain was asked if NATO should enforce a no-fly zone in Syria, much like it did in Libya.
"That's one of the solutions and I know the British and the French and others are very supportive of action to be taken in Syria — 100,000 people have been massacred and a year from now there'll be another 100,000.
"Bashar Assad is winning so therefore Iran is winning in the region. It is now turned into a region of conflict. Lebanon is destabilized, the King of Jordan is in jeopardy because of the incredible inflow of refugees. The whole region is bordering on chaos and there's a total lack of American leadership and there's many options we can take, but half measures aren't going to succeed.
"We need to have a no-fly zone and we need to negate Bashar Assad's power and stop the slaughter. It's an unfair fight and it should be affecting our relations with Russia, who continues to supply them with an abundance of arms. We are writing a shameful chapter in American history."
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McCain says he appreciates Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to foster a resumption of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, but asserts that "our priority right now is Syria. Egypt is a serious issue since it's the heart and soul of the Arab world. There's no doubt that Iran's path toward nuclear weapons is uninterrupted and this will, obviously, have the most profound consequences in the Middle East and the world. So there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.
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"I hope he succeeds in this effort. I share some of the skepticism that I hear expressed about this becoming reality, particularly since Hamas and the Palestinian authority are still divided. I'm not sure how that negotiation works, but I wish him every success."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently suggested time is running out to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.
McCain comments: "I see the Israelis becoming more and more frustrated as the Iranian progress toward nuclear weapons seems to have been placed on the back burner by the Obama administration.
"Remember that the president said it would be 'unacceptable' for Iran to have nuclear weapons. And every indication is that they're well on that road. So the prime minister of Israel, in the last few days, has expressed his frustration about the lack of attention to this issue.
"The Congress, thanks to efforts by Sen. Lindsey Graham, should pass a resolution saying that the president is authorized to use military force if necessary to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, which is something that he has stated. Congress should weigh in on it.
"But frankly, I'm very, very worried as to whether the Iranians think that we are serious, what with our lack of any meaningful action as far as Syria is concerned. Across the board there's a perception, particularly in the Middle East but throughout the world, of American weakness and lack of leadership. That only has bad consequences."
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