President Barack Obama "totally abdicated his responsibility" in not acting immediately to move against Syria the moment it used deadly chemical weapons last month, Congressman Peter King of New York says.
"He should have done this on August 22nd or August 23rd, as soon as possible afterwards," King told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"If he had said from the start . . . 'I want our country to stand united, I'm going to ask the Congress to act immediately to stand with me,' that would have at least made sense.
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"To have [Secretary of Defense] Chuck Hagel and [Secretary of State] John Kerry basically say we're ready to attack Syria, and then the last minute . . . say he's passing it off to Congress and Congress isn't even going to be back for another 10 days . . . That is the wrong way to go into war and that's what this is."
King said, however, that action must be taken against Syria and he will vote to proceed with a military strike.
"First of all, because [the] use of chemical weapons has crossed, as the president says, a red line. Also, my concern is not so much the people of Syria, as tragic as that is, but America's national interests," he said.
"If Syria is allowed to get away with this, it's going to weaken our credibility in the Middle East. It's going to encourage Iran to go forward with its nuclear weapons. And it's going to make Syria and Iran really the dominant forces in the Middle East."
King is disturbed by the Obama administration’s candor about the nation’s plans to strike Syria.
"The administration is leaking out all over the place about where our military attack is going to be … One, they keep telling what they're going to do and what they're not going to do on the military attack. And secondly, we're giving Syria so much time to get ready,” he said.
"With all of that, I'm not certain what the president is going to do. He keeps scaling it back. And I'm saying, is it worth going through all of this risk if he's going to scale it back? Having said that, we do have to take action but I'm very disappointed in the way he's doing this."
But whether Obama can get lawmakers to support him is up in the air, according to King.
"It's going to be tough because he certainly has not done very much to convince those who need convincing and I can understand somebody voting against him. I intend to vote for it but he's done a very, very poor job of leadership on this," he said.
"Right now, if it came to a vote, it would probably lose today. I'm hoping that he can get the votes and I give [House Speaker] John Boehner and [Majority Leader] Eric Cantor credit for coming out the way they did but it's going to be tough.
"The president, basically, he drew the red line last August, that's over a year ago, and has not spoken to Congress about it since."
King said threats of retaliation from Hezbollah or other extremists if the United States attacks would not have been an issue under past Republican presidents.
"I don't think they would've made those threats against George Bush or Ronald Reagan, to be honest with you, because Iran would know that they would be devastated if they did that," he said.
"There's no guarantees but all that can be done will be done to stop any attack in this country and we have to make it clear to Iran that any attack made by Hezbollah or any of their allies is going to be deemed as an attack by Iran and by Syria and we will take whatever action's appropriate."
King said another concern is the growing influence of al-Qaida on Syria’s rebel forces.
More than 1,400 people were killed on the outskirts of Damascus when the Assad regime reportedly used chemical weapons on Aug. 21st.
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