Tags: Donald Trump | Syria | chris coons | bashar al-assad | weapon | choices | difference

Coons: Assad's Weapon Choices Shouldn't Make a Difference

CNN's "New Day"/YouTube

By    |   Monday, 10 Apr 2017 11:31 AM

President Donald Trump's decision to take "forceful and prompt action" against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for once again using chemical weapons against his own people was appropriate, but such action shouldn't depend solely on the type of weapon the Syrian leader uses in his attacks, Sen. Chris Coons said Monday.

"It is because of the chemical weapons convention that many around the world have condemned chemical weapons against his own people," the Delaware Democrat told CNN "New Day" co-anchor Alisyn Camerota. "I don't see the difference. Dropping a barrel bomb on the school or hospital or on a refugee camp, as he has done, is every bit as heinous and using chemical weapons."

Assad, he continued, has used "every single weapon of war, from scud missiles, to cluster bombs, to poison gas, to starvation, as a tool of war to mass torture. He has done horrific and unspeakable things to his own people. I will remind you that the Trump administration and its senior leadership as recently as two weeks ago were saying we have to just accept Assad and let his people work it out because our focus needs to be ISIS."

Coons was commenting in response to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who on Sunday told Fox News they did not rule out additional strikes if Assad continued to engage in atrocities against rebel forces with either chemical or conventional weapons.

Coons told CNN that this is not the time to cut back on the U.S. investment in diplomacy and development, as well as humanitarian aid when it comes to Syria, as solutions will be difficult and expensive.

"If we're not prepared for a diplomatic solution and a development solution, once we retake the cities of Mosul and Raqqah, then we will repeat some of the mistakes of the past," said Coons.

He also called on Trump to close the gaps with NATO and European allies caused by his "irresponsible statements as a candidate," because "if you are going into a big fight, bring big friends."

Also, he called on Trump to come to Congress and work toward an authorization for the use of military force, "so we're doing our job under the Constitution.

"It may get you a great bump in the polls and it may brush back [Chinese President] XI Jinping or [North Korean President] Kim Jong-un, but that is not the same thing as having a strategy," Coons said. "I've been saying for years as have other members of the Foreign Relations Committee, Democrats and Republicans, that we need a strategy against ISIS. That's the war we're actively engaged in."

Meanwhile, Coons said he considers Assad to be a war criminal, and a path is needed to remove him.

"Because we have allowed Russia to take significant role in his defense, there is no path to removal of Assad without intense negotiations and clarity with Russia about intentions," said Coons. "First the Trump administration needs to make up its own mind. President Trump needs to decide how far is he willing to go to push Russia and Iran."

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President Donald Trump's decision to take "forceful and prompt action" against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for once again using chemical weapons against his own people was appropriate, but such action shouldn't depend solely on the type of weapon the Syrian leader uses...
chris coons, bashar al-assad, weapon, choices, difference
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2017-31-10
Monday, 10 Apr 2017 11:31 AM
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