Tags: mike | rogers | syria | obama | mess

Rep. Rogers: Obama's Plan on Syria 'Confusing Mess'

Sunday, 08 Sep 2013 02:12 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Military strikes against Syria are in the United States' best interest, Rep. Mike Rogers said Sunday, but the Obama administration "has done an awful job" explaining that to the American people.

"It's a confusing mess to this point," the Michigan Republican, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer.

"That has been their biggest challenge on what is an incredibly important issue. This cannot be about Barack Obama. It has to be what is in the best interest of the United States of America. We have to have that debate and that discussion," Rogers said.

Rogers is one of the few House Republicans who has come out in favor of military strikes, even though he maintains it's not because he supports President Barack Obama -- but he is in favor of what is right for the country.

"I believe the adage of peace through strength," said Rogers. "We have lost that; and that means we will suffer the consequences of that in the future."

Further, Rogers said, the debate is about far more than exactly "which missile and which ship hits what target."

Instead, it's about how the country makes sure chemical weapons won't be used again.

"By the way, this is a pattern of use over time," said Rogers. "No intervention caused a greater scale of use, and they're using it to their advantage including killing civilians. They believe that helps them. That's how we got here."

Congress should "empower the president" so the country can have the credibility it needs to negotiate a settlement, Rogers said.

Rogers said nobody is calling for massive military intervention, which would not work and would be bad for national security.

But the United States, at this point "doesn't have the credibility to go to the opposition and say to stop shooting," said Rogers.

Rogers said the Syrian issue has moved beyond being a civil war. Iran has been using Syria as a "proxy," and other countries' involvement are creating a dangerous situation, he said.

"Hezbollah troops are fighting on behalf of Assad, and the Russians are providing military assistance, and I argue, military hardware and military goods," said Rogers. "If we don't find a solution here ... this thing is going to descend even further out of control."

Rogers said that on Aug. 31, when Obama announced his intention to seek Congressional approval for military strikes, he should have immediately called Congress back to review the evidence and issue quick orders.

"Instead, he announced it, and then left the country for a week," said Rogers, referring to Obama's recent participation in the G20 summit in Russia. Congressional "members were back in their districts without access to the classified information they needed, I think, to come to a good conclusion."

The delay caused Congress to back off supporting the strikes, said Rogers, because "it's difficult to make a decision when you don't have access to the classified information."

But the decision will be important to the nation's security, said Rogers, not only in the Mideast but worldwide.

"It does mean our nation's relationship with Russia," Rogers said. "Do we get a nuclear Iran or not? Can we contain North Korea? They have a chemical and biological stockpile that makes us very nervous."

But Rogers said he will continue to support the measure, even if his constituents don't want him to.

"As a representative democracy, we need to come here and have this debate," he said, noting that he understands why people are skeptical.

"You have a reluctant commander-in-chief coming to the American people saying 'I'm going to do something, but not a lot," he said. "Hearing that, I'm skeptical as well, and I'm frustrated with the president on Syria and other foreign policy issues that got us to the place that we are today."

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