Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told The Daily Caller that he could envision using American military force as a part of a broader coalition to stop Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from continuing to attack his people.
Asked by TheDC at a reporter’s roundtable at the Foreign Policy Initiative’s winter forum, Graham said there was a scenario in which he could support using American military force in Syria on behalf of the Syrian uprising.
“I think it would have to be a part of a coalition,” he stipulated.
“The only way I see military force to be used, if the violence continues to escalate and there is basically a slaughter going on of the Syrian people by their government beyond what exists today. That could rally the world to engage the Assad administration. But as a standalone proposition — America going in, I don’t think so. As part of some force that’s requested by the Syrian people — the first thing is the Syrian people have to request it.”
When asked whether it was important for the Arab League to endorse such an effort, like they did in Libya, Graham said that they are an “important player” in deciding whether to engage militarily.
“I think they are important, absolutely. I think they would be an important player here,” Graham said.
“Seems to be that Assad had distanced himself from his neighbor in Turkey, that he has lost world opinion, and that if the slaughter continues I think it would be a responsible thing for the world community to consider intervening to protect the Syrian people if they request our efforts. But not as a standalone proposition.”
The United Nations estimates that 5,000 people have been killed since Syrians rose up against their dictatorial regime in March.
Graham spoke to a select group of reporters before he addressed the Foreign Policy Initiative forum. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty addressed the forum earlier Tuesday morning, while Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Mark Kirk of Illinois, among others, are slated to speak Tuesday afternoon.