A leading Republican senator today urged the US to launch airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to force him out of power—a call for dramatic military intervention against the growing violence that was not supported by the Obama administration or its European or Arab partners. The statement of Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor came as the US and European governments pleaded for Russia's Vladimir Putin to rethink his anti-interventionist stance on Syria.
McCain's statement was as much a critique of President Obama's policy as a rallying call for an international military campaign, accusing the president of being too soft on Assad. McCain and his party's senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee said the US should change policy by arming Syria's rebels and spearheading a military effort to support them. "The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower," McCain concluded. "The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad's forces." (Read more Syria stories.)