A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

McCaskill wouldn't 'rule out' U.S. troops in Syria if 'absolutely necessary'

In Backroom

3:37 pm on Sun, 04.28.13

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Sunday that she would not rule out the possibility of U.S. troops in Syria, but cautioned that such an option should be considered only if deemed "absolutely necessary."

Appearing on CBS’ "Face the Nation," McCaskill, D-Mo., also said she had not yet seen “a conclusive chain of evidence” to prove who exactly ordered the use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war. But another guest on the program, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said he believes U.S. intelligence knows who ordered the chemical-weapon use.

The Missouri senator’s comments came on a day when U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that this country should start arming some Syrian rebels and take steps to help establish a “safe zone” in that country. However, he added, “the worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria.”

Claire McCaskill
Claire McCaskill

McCaskill, a member of both the Senate Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, made it clear that she would prefer more “surgical” options for the time being. She said the situation in Syria – although it has “really deteriorated” – is “not really at a tipping point.”

Asked about the possibility of eventual U.S. troop involvement in Syria, McCaskill said: “I don’t think you want to ever rule it out,” in part because of the message such a statement would telegraph. “I don’t think you ever want to say ‘absolutely not.’ But obviously we don’t want to do that unless it’s absolutely necessary,” she said.

But while not supporting any U.S. troop involvement, Chambliss said he worried about the deterioration of the situation in Syria, where rebel troops – including some Islamist-inspired insurgents – have been battling government forces.

“The world is watching,” said Chambliss. “We’ve got 70,000 dead people in that part of the world as a result of [Syrian leader] Bashar al-Assad. We as Americans have never let something like that happen before.”

McCaskill defended the administration of President Barack Obama from charges by Republicans that he had waited too long to take significant action in Syria. McCain alleged that Obama, by drawing a “red line” at the Syrian regime’s deployment of chemical weapons, of giving Assad a “green light . . . to do anything short of that.”

While evidence emerged last week that sarin gas had been used in Syria, McCaskill cautioned against taking action until the details of that deployment were clear. “Was this a rogue guy that decided to do this, or was this truly a decision by the government in Syria” to deploy a chemical weapon, McCaskill asked. “That’s why I think we’ve got to make sure we know before we base our actions just on that.”

But Chambliss, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, disagreed with McCaskill on the question of who ordered that deployment. “We know where the order came from” to use the sarin gas, he said. “We had another general defect, just in the last couple of days, who again has validated where the order came from.”

Appearing on the same talk show, U.S Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., suggested that this country should move militarily against the Syrian regime without committing U.S. troops. “One way you can stop the Syrian Air Force from flying is to bomb Syrian air bases with missiles,” he said. “You don't need to go deep into Syria to do that.”

McCaskill sounded a more cautious note. “I think the president, along with our military leadership, is working very hard right now to figure out the best way to keep Syria from becoming the fragmented state that could be a home and haven for terrorists.”

Suggesting that the U.S. step up humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees, McCaskill said that – stopping short of providing weaponry – this country should be “working with our friends in the area that may be providing more assistance to some of the ‘good guys’” who are fighting government forces. “It’s a matter of resources and it’s a matter of having contingency plans and making sure that we are ready, if we need to, take some kind of military action.”

She said Secretary of State John Kerry is talking with “all of our allies in the area, trying to get help in figuring out what we can do surgically that will get the result we want without making the problems even worse.” One goal is to try to convince Russia, which has been a key ally of Assad, to put pressure on the Syrian government.

No Comments

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

More About The Beacon Home