There is still time for President Barack Obama to make Congress and America see that military strikes in Syria are in the national interest if he shows he has resolute leadership and clear goals, Karl Rove says.
But he isn't displaying the kind of leadership needed, and hasn't offered a way to get Syrian President Bashar Assad "to step aside," as he said two years ago, the former White House senior advisor said in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal
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"The bottom line is that Americans are not eager for military action in Syria," said Rove. "Presidential ambivalence won't convince the public they should care what happens there. But it isn't too late. Mr. Obama can bend opinion and the will of Congress his way."
And Rove, a frequent critic of the Obama administration added, "For the sake of America's national security, I hope he succeeds."
Rove pointed out that Obama is now denying he "set a red line" concerning the Syrian use of chemical weapons, instead claiming the world set the red line and now, the international community's credibility is suffering.
"Mr. Obama has taken leading from behind to the extreme by letting British Prime Minister David Cameron go first in asking for parliamentary approval for a strike on Syria," said Rove.
Further, Obama's closest advisers are "treating the legislative branch as a collection of nitwits," said Rove, including a tweet from David Axelrod, Obama's former senior adviser, who said that "Congress is now the dog that caught the car."
"This is a peculiar way to obtain congressional backing for a strike in Syria," said Rove.
"Mocking senators and congressmen won't convince them that America's credibility will be badly damaged — with potentially grave consequences for U.S. allies and interests — if they withhold approval."
Instead, the president needs to convince Congress that keeping Assad in power will mean "victory for Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, tilting the balance in the Middle East," said Rove.
Obama must also argue that it is not likely al-Qaida Islamists will replace Assad.
"Most in the Syrian opposition aren't jihadists," said Rove. "The Syrian people will not tolerate a government led by a terrorist movement dominated by foreign fighters."
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