Chambliss and Isakson: No quick exit from Afghanistan, Syrian intervention likely

Updated at 8:45 a.m.: Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) has posted audio of the entire session with the senators.

Original: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was in Atlanta this afternoon for as the keynote speaker for a fund-raiser aim at pursuing a GOP majority in that chamber this year.

Twenty-three Democratic seats are up for grabs this year, as opposed to 10 Republican ones. Until the last few weeks, GOP control next year was a presumption – made less so by Democrat Bob Kerry’s entry into the race in Nebraska, and the decision by Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine not to seek another term. Not to mention the extended presidential contest.

After the fund-raiser, Cornyn and his hosts, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, met with reporters to discuss the Senate contests, Syria and Afghanistan. (The Keystone pipeline, which had been Cornyn’s favorite recent topic, wasn’t discussed.)

On the domestic front, Cornyn mentioned Romney as the Republican presidential frontrunner. The names of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum failed to pass his lips. I asked Cornyn about recent remarks by RNC member Henry Barbour of Mississippi, who said that a Gingrich nomination might cost Republicans not just the Senate, but the U.S. House as well.

I asked Cornyn if Senate Republicans had a candidate they wanted to run with. He replied:

”Someone who could win is my personal preference….It’s important that we have a strong nominee who can run well across the country. Particularly where there are large electoral votes. Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri — just to name a few — Ohio. We need a strong candidate who could run a good race in those, to help lift – or certainly not burden – our Senate candidates.”

It was pointed out that, with the exception of Missouri, which was won by Santorum, and Pennsylvania, which hasn’t yet voted, the states that the Texas senator mentioned all had primaries won by Romney. Cornyn said he didn’t disagree with the observation.

***
On Syria, all three senators said the United States needed to intervene in Syria, but weren’t ready to say how – whether with sanctions or armed force.

Said Chambliss:

“ I do think America as the leading democracy in the world, can’t stand by and see innocent people slaughtered in Syria, which is taking place right now. When it happened in Bosnia, we intervened. When it happened in Kosovo, we intervened. When it happened in Rwanda, we intervened.

“That being said, how do we intervene? If sanctions would stop the slaughter, that certainly would be the more preferable course. If it doesn’t, you can’t rule out military intervention.”

Chambliss said it wasn’t clear who the U.S. would be aiding should it enter the fray opposite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “That’s becoming more and more clear. I don’t think we’re at that point yet,” he said.

As for as force goes, Chambliss sounded like he wasn’t eager to see U.S. boots on the ground. “If sanctions would stop the slaughter, that certainly would be the more preferable course. If it doesn’t, you can’t rule out military intervention,” he said.

Isakson, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had attended two secure briefings on Syria in the last 10 days. It’s not an ethic uprising comparable to Iraq, he said.

He expects Assad to topple, ultimately, but still has the support of the Syrian business community, the government bureaucracy and the army. But he, too, characterized intervention as likely. “Exactly how we do it and exactly when you pull that trigger is going to be a combination of a number of factors coming together,” Isakson said.

Cornyn had one key point worth passing along. Syria is a proxy for Iran in the region. Iran and Russia supply its military hardware. “The single biggest blow short of a regime change in Iran would be regime change in Syria,” the Texas senator said.

***
None of the senators were willing to rush for the exit in Afghanistan, rejecting the mass killing of Afghan civilians on Sunday, allegedly by an American soldier, as a reason to leave. In that, the senators were agreeing with White House policy.

Chambliss again took the lead:

“We know that there are less than 50 al-Qaeda members in Aghanistan today, and if we were to pull out they would return in a heartbeat….

“What happened yesterday is a terrible tragedy. But it has nothing to do with the attitudes of the Afghans toward America. We don’t know what caused the soldier to snap, but obviously he did. And that’s a whole separate issue that’s got to be dealt with – as opposed to the issue of withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Added Isakson:

”To go into Afghanistan, to go after al-Qaeda, we had to rent the Kyrgyzstan airport because of the infrastructure available to us. The American taxpayers have invested a lot of money there and other places, and so I think there should be a presence to remain in the area, given the investment that’s been made….

“There is a horizon coming where we will, but when we do pull out, it should not be entirely. I think we should have a presence at the air base, and probably a special operations presence as well.”

So, no, they do not agree with Newt Gingrich’s assessment that it may be time to go.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

62 comments Add your comment

sheepdawg

March 12th, 2012
4:09 pm

we should pull all american troops out of afganistan today, and stay out of any other countries. we are not the world police and cannot afford continuing to pretend we are

Debbie Dooley

March 12th, 2012
4:11 pm

Not a field of candidates to be proud of………too bad……..4 more years……

sheepdawg

March 12th, 2012
4:11 pm

the GOP congress = american taliban, and poses much more of a threat to middle class citizens than al-queda

Attack Dog

March 12th, 2012
4:35 pm

Just think. If McCain was POTUS, we would still be fully engaged in Iraq, bin Laden would still be alive, we would have put troops on the ground in Libya, bombed Iran, getting ready to bomb Syria, and telling us that we shouldn’t change President’s in the middle of a war(s)! And…John, Clarence and John would have voted for off-budget defense spending and not be saying a word about deficits or debt. Any Dixiecrat disagree? Seeing none, meeting adjourned.

Bernie

March 12th, 2012
4:41 pm

What great GOP leaders we have in these three(3). They all seem to have the decision ability of the Three Stooges. All are willing to intervene in Syria meaning (willing to send our kids to die). then at the same time willingly to spend 800 million a week to chase 50 bad guys meaning ( so more of our kids will die). Something tells me these (3) three as children, were left behind and we are stuck with the results. Good Grief!

Tony Smith

March 12th, 2012
4:43 pm

I am a conservative but I disagree with many of the Republican senators about Syria. We can no longer be the world’s policeman. We can not afford it.

Also, how many countries throughout history have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan? We can now the United States to the list.

Mattie Patterson

March 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

THE PREVIOUS POSTS HAVE ALL BEEN SPOT ON. IT’S TOO BAD THAT GEORGIA HAS NO REPRESENTATION IN THE SENATE. THE TWO CIPHERS THERE ARE NOT CAPABLE OF ORIGINAL THOUGHT, NOR DO THEY HAVE THE INTEREST OF GEORGIANS AT HEART.

Ga Values Ron Paul for Peace & prosparity

March 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

Chicken Hawks all, the sad thing is that Saxby is going to run again & probably not be opposed in the primary.

Ron

March 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

Our kids need a break from war. More and more are going to start to break and when they do get home, if they are not treated we will suffer the consequences.

PR

March 12th, 2012
4:56 pm

Its time for these idiots to get their heads out of the sand. We are LOSING in Afghanistan and its a worthless war. GET OUT OF AFGHANISTAN AND STAY OUT OF SYRIA. The muslims hate us and all this does it make it worse. Let the ragheads fight their own battles.

Is It Fair?

March 12th, 2012
5:02 pm

Is It Fair? (#4)
…that the three counties with America’s highest median family income just happen to be located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area?

roughrider

March 12th, 2012
5:05 pm

Why do the republicans always want to intervene in other countries? Don’t our chckenhawks like Chambliss realize that w are broke and can’t afford it?

Reel

March 12th, 2012
5:05 pm

They all want to continue saving the world, but don’t know how…..

How about something VERY RADICAL because nothing seems to work in trying to resolve conflicts throughout the world? A new world body with the sole purpose of resolving conflicts without POLITICAL influences. Impossible?

Faaarrr Right

March 12th, 2012
5:06 pm

As one who is 100 degrees beyond Attilla the Hun, and was the POTUS, I would yank every American soldier and Marine (et al.) out of Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign countries as fast as I could. To hell with the entire middle east. One good GPS coordinate, in the right place would produce thousands of tons of silica overnight. Come on, Imanutjob, let’s get it on.

gunga din

March 12th, 2012
5:09 pm

Enter your comments here

zeke

March 12th, 2012
5:13 pm

wathching the tube today, a poll showed only roughly 23% of folks in al & ms believe in evolution….wonder how it got that high?

Angel Macaroni

March 12th, 2012
5:14 pm

GOP Chickhawks.

Bernie

March 12th, 2012
5:16 pm

The History of WAR in Afghanistan does not bode well for America. Every country that has invaded it in the past have always left, and trust me they always leave.

They always leave as weaker Nation economically and weaker politically with its own people.

History is screaming at us NOW! ” America, Listen and Learn the history of all those who have gone before you, for you are own the path to your own destruction.”

MrLiberty

March 12th, 2012
5:16 pm

Sanctions are an act of war, but you wouldn’t expect idiots like Chambliss and Isakson to know this as their eyes are too filled with blood to be able to see reality. Expect these neocons to promote as much death and destruction as their little chickenhawk voices can scream for. They don’t care about americas (just look at their vote in favor of NDAA), and they don’t care about innocent foreigners. Intervention will cost the lives of tens of thousands of Syrians and likely many american soldiers as well.

If these two clowns want to invade Syria, let them put on a holster and go do it alone.

MrLiberty

March 12th, 2012
5:23 pm

Faaarrr Right – Don’t you belong in another species??

If you would not be willing or wish to die for the horrible behavior of our illustrious dictator Obama, why do you think that millions in the Middle East should be murdered over the rantings of one man who is about only the 10th most powerful man in Iran? Just what exactly did the 70,000,000 other people in the country do to deserve any agression from us? Oh, they elected Amedinajad(sp?). Yes, and we twice elected Bush who murdered tens of thousands of innocent Afghanis and Iraqis that never did anything to our country and Obama who has murdered thousands of innocent Afghanis, Iraqis, and Pakistanis who also never did anything to the US.

I certainly hope you don’t call yourself a Christian.

And by the way chemistry major – a nuclear blast (which is what it sounds like you are implying) would neither create nor destroy silica. Either the mineral is there or it is not. Being the most prevalent chemical on the planet, probably plenty there. Even the oil will be radioactive and useless after a nuclear blast.

Justine

March 12th, 2012
5:23 pm

I asked this question = How many car bombings where there in Iraq and Afghanistan before we invaded these countries. I dont think there were many if any. The problem is we give credit and allow for the growth of these groups when we invade a country and attempt to instill our will. The fact of thematter is simple, if we believe people are being persecuted them we need to give them political assylum in this country or find countries willing to take them. However, the only countries we invade are those with natural resources – oil, diamonds, gold, minerals – and then attempt to control these resources. This has proven to be a problem, in Libya, Egypt, Tunsia and others they are still fighting and there are increases in violence and decreases in services to the population.

The United States cannot be the POLICE OF THE WORLD nor should it try. In this country our children are suffering from primary school eucations, increases in college and university education and trade training has been regulated to for profit schools whch fail to provide enough education to assist in getting a job.

Lastly, the United STates does not have the moral authority to dictate the behavior or others when it treats its low income and ethnic population as it does. Let us not forget the US has the highest incarceration population in the world.

Going Right

March 12th, 2012
5:24 pm

Today I filed my 2011 Federal and State Income Tax forms (something many Democrats wouldn’t have any idea what those are) and just to prove how filthy rich I am, I only deducted 14.17% for charitable contributions – not including the tithing for my church – another apparent unknown for Democrats.
CARE, Boys & Girls Club, Wounded Warriors Fund, Injured Marine Corps Semper Fi Fund, Doctors Without Borders and the Smile Train are some of the 15 recipients just to name a few. That’s the way it is with us “nasty, heartless Republican S.O.B.’s” isn’t it?

MaryCan

March 12th, 2012
5:27 pm

And I’d bet neither Chambliss nor Isakson are reading these comments, no more than they read the almost-daily emails and/or letters I’ve sent them! They are in office to represent the only ones they care about: the middle-aged (or older) rich white men like themselves. I have asked them repeatedly if they care about the world they are leaving for their own grandchildren? Apparently they don’t care. I swear, I would vote for absolutely anybody running against either one of these selfish, timid men!

MaryCan

March 12th, 2012
5:28 pm

Going Right: gee, I am so impressed with you, and your amazing humility. Aren’t you proud that you aren’t a sinner like other people?

Don Abernethy

March 12th, 2012
5:46 pm

Leave immediately. They do not appreciate our help, they dislike us, they are crooks interested only in our money. They do not deserve another drop of American blood.

George

March 12th, 2012
5:55 pm

Stay the Course!

Father A. Long

March 12th, 2012
6:02 pm

We ain’t learnt nothin!

George

March 12th, 2012
6:05 pm

You don’t change horses in mid-stream.

Centrist

March 12th, 2012
6:11 pm

“On Syria, all three senators said the United States needed to intervene in Syria, but weren’t ready to say how – whether with sanctions or armed force.”

Sanctions clearly do not work. Intervention would have to come via the DEMOCRAT Senate and DEMOCRAT President along with REPUBLICAN House who all did so along with Europe in Libya. Why are we focusing on the minority party republican Senators? (Rhetorical – this is a liberal media website trying to make this a Republican issue)

Martin Williams

March 12th, 2012
6:24 pm

Tea Party people, please speak up. We do not need another war which is equal to spending. The rest of the world should talk to China, Russia, and even the United States leadership to STOP selling/or supplying arms to Syria. The same goes for Joseph Kony. It is NOT all about the money every time. Kids are paying a very high price in these wars.

John McCain

March 12th, 2012
6:25 pm

We should stay in Afghanistan at least another ten years and invade Syria and Iran. We can just borrow the money from China and everything will turn out great.

Mr. Neutral

March 12th, 2012
6:49 pm

Our politicians have not learned anything from our failed policy in Vietnam. That war was purely designed to make money for the defense contractors, which cost the USA thousands in lives and destroyed the lives of mentally strong young people and their families, in addition to the billions in our tax dollars. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are called George W. Bush’s Vietnam. Today the people of the world are laughing at us. How can we get the respect we had just after World War II?

jconservative

March 12th, 2012
6:59 pm

Why don’t we let those countries of the Islamic faith use their efforts to protect the lives of fellow Islamics in Syria. Why does the USA have to do it?

I guess it is OK for Muslims to kill Muslims but not OK for others to kill Muslims. That about it?

And if we are determined to use American troops in the Middle East, I suggest we re-introduce the Draft and cancel the Bush/Obama tax cuts to raise the manpower and funds necessary for more wars.

Reel

March 12th, 2012
7:07 pm

The Russians wasted 10 years in Afghanistan and lost 57,000 soldiers and got out to cut their losses. Will the US of A learn from this? The people don’t want us there, the geography can’t be worse, and we don’t know why we’re there? Al Quaida is like the Mafia, they come and go when the opportunity is there.

Bring the troops home and let’s take care of them when they get back!

Attack Dog

March 12th, 2012
7:30 pm

1. One day a Goper pretending to be a centrist will figure out that there is a difference between a blog and a website. Maybe not soon, but we can hope. 2. When two Dixiecrats open their mouths, it’s the liberal media’s fault for what they say. SMH 3. Can any Dixiecrat remember why we really went into Afghanistan? Oh, I see a hand…Correct, to find bin Laden. Finally! 4. Gawd, a “conservative”at 6:59 pm admits that there are “Obama” tax cuts!

double

March 12th, 2012
7:36 pm

Going right knows how to describe himself.Us Dems filed until they cut out our refund when we had no income.Suppose they needed that money for more rich tax breaks.

td

March 12th, 2012
8:04 pm

Good thing all you libs on this blog have no say so in who we send to Washington to be our Senators. I think all of you would be happier in a different state. I still can not figure out why you would stay in a state that you hate.

Michael

March 12th, 2012
8:17 pm

War talk is all about defense contractors and middle class jobs.

Going Right

March 12th, 2012
8:43 pm

MaryCan -
Well, I’ll answer that as soon as you go back to your training bra. You know now that your should have taken my other advice about puberty, you poor thing.

Red

March 12th, 2012
8:49 pm

Ah yes. The squishy RINO collection of Saxby, Johnny, and John. Spineless leeches who give us capitulation and compromise. Mitt fits right into their profile so it is no surprise that Cornyn is just accepting another losing candidate to run. Mitt makes Dole and McCain look wonderful and has the personality of Kerry. Can Mitt possibly be the amalgamation of every loser over the past 30 years?

Saxby seems to have taken an al Qaeda census in Afghanistan. And frankly it’s not al Qaeda who is killing troops in the region. The Taliban has been the force we’ve fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As for Syria, let’s jump in and topple the lesser of the evils in order to give another nation over to Islamic radicals. Assad at least knew how to placate in order to keep the radicals out of power and the place stable. Not any more. Smoldering ruins and a reason to jack the oil prices up more.

Seriously???

March 12th, 2012
9:28 pm

Folks on these blogs simply amaze me sometimes. For the people on the far right: Chambliss and Isakson are two of the 5 most conservative members of the US Senate… what else could you want than a conservative voting record, yet representation from people that are actually trying to solve problems. For the folks on the far left: Isolationism and straying away from defending democracy and freedom is done at your own peril. We are a world that is more interconnected than ever before, so while some argue that the United States has no moral highground, I invite you to travel overseas to places like Africa and Iraq to see people actually appreciative for both.

As someone that is pretty conservative and understands a few things about our business leaning state, I am proud of my US Senators. Do I agree with them on everything? Of course, I don’t. That said, I believe they are both representing our state in a way that makes me happy to have them.

GOP faithful

March 12th, 2012
9:37 pm

Someone here is hoping the Tea Party will speak up against the war. You must have mistaken the sorry group that calls itself the Tea Party for a bunch of principled folks who support small government and a sound foreign policy. That was the group that got together for the first modern day Tea Party, but the pathetic lowlifes that now call themselves the Tea Party overwhelmingly support Newt, Rick, and Mitt – three war mongers of the worst sort, while consistently shunning the godfather of the modern Tea Party movement – Ron Paul. Ron Paul is the only man with any common sense on foreign policy and yet the Tea Party will have little or nothing to do with him. They would rather ride the wave of blood, destruction, and bankruptcy with the other establishment candidates than support a true patriot like Dr. Paul. The Tea Party may have been the best hope for the republican party, but they are now just another mainstream movement who lost their principles. How sad.

Centrist

March 12th, 2012
10:05 pm

The Tea Party has not endorsed anyone as far as I know. There is no reference in their 10 Core Beliefs about social issues, religion, or war – but they get slandered by those who don’t like the following:

http://www.teaparty-platform.com/

1. Eliminate Excessive Taxes

2. Eliminate the National Debt

3. Eliminate Deficit Spending

4. Protect Free Markets

5. Abide by the Constitution of the United States

6. Promote Civic Responsibility

7. Reduce the Overall Size of Government

8. Believe in the People

9. Avoid the Pitfalls of Politics

10. Maintain Local Independence

TruthBe

March 12th, 2012
10:15 pm

sheepdawg

March 12th, 2012
4:11 pm
the GOP congress = american taliban, and poses much more of a threat to middle class citizens than al-queda
You mean Obama and his socialist administration. Obama and Hillary Clinton gave away billions of taxpayers dollars thru the State Department to the PLO, Hamas, Hezballuh, and the Muslim Brotherhood. These terrorist are the same ones that are killing our soldiers and firing missles at Israel. Why is President Obama and Sec.Hillary Clinton doing this to hurt American and help our enemies? This is a act of treason. Obama is a muslim terrorist himself and Hillary Clinton is so corrupt she would sell her own family to stay in power.

South Ga

March 12th, 2012
10:37 pm

td @8:04, I have lived in this state for 81 years except for four years of service. So why should I take your suggestion and leave because I don’t agree with your political philosophy. I have witnessed this state and country during the past ten years go down, down, down under republican leadership. I can remember when old Gene Talmadge whould stand on a flat bed trailer during a rally and yell n****r, n****r and get elected. Yes he called himself a democrat at the time, but today he would be a republican and yell Liberal, liberal and still get elected in this state. Republicans tell us all we have to do to get gas prices down is to drill, drill, and drill and approve the pipeline from Canada, totally disregarding the fact that a lot of the pipline oil will be exported and will have have very little effect on our gas prices.

During February the House of representative passed a bill to override the presidents authority to disapprove the pipeline. Whereupon the house democrats introduced an amendment to prevent the exportation of any oil coming thru the pipeline. This amendment was defeated by the republicans 254 to 173. Voting for the amendment were all Georgia democrats. All Georgia republicans voted against it. Now this probably tells you nothing td or centrist, but this tells me the republicans are voting on behalf of the international oil companies and not for the citizens of this country.

I could go on but being elderly, it’s past my bedtime.

TruthBe

March 12th, 2012
11:08 pm

SouthGa, Go back to where your from please and take Obama with you too.

Bernie

March 12th, 2012
11:37 pm

Well, at least we are not hearing from the PHONY TOUGHS about “cuttin” and runnin.” The horrors of war visited upon this generation will, sadly, manifest itself in our country in very horrific ways.

liberalefty

March 13th, 2012
2:54 am

bring our troops home…if DUBYA hadnt let OSAMA murder 3000 AMERICANS we wouldnt be over there now…the troops are paying for DUBYAS fragile ego with their lives

The Kid

March 13th, 2012
3:37 am

Sounds like so many of you wish it was 1950 again and you could have everything go the way it’s supposed to. White picket fences and Father Knows Best on T.V. Gene Talmadge ‘could’ stand on the bed of a flat-bed truck and degrade other Americans and all was fine. But it wasn’t fine and the world was watching all along. The thing is;… in this world; YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW. There’s no getting around it.

Father A. Long

March 13th, 2012
6:23 am

The Big 0 ran on extracting our troops from that area. What happened?