One of former President Barack Obama's biggest mistakes was to draw his infamous red line in Syria and not follow up on his threat of action, as it made the United States look like a "paper tiger," and President Donald Trump was "absolutely right" to call him out on it following a deadly chemical weapon attack this weekend, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said Monday.
"That told [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and everybody else that you don't have to pay attention to what the United States says, we're just a paper tiger," the Texas Republican told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" co-host Sandra Smith.
"After that Syria, has spiraled into this terrible mess, which President Trump inherited," Thornberry added. "Again, it is not up to the United States to fix Syria but we've got to be there and to make sure that we're not attacked by terrorists from there and that we kind of keep the lid on things so we don't get sucked into a wider war in the Middle East."
Thornberry also on Monday said the United States should "absolutely" consider new airstrikes against Syria to punish Assad for the weekend actions, but that should be done with the cooperation from foreign allies as an "international condemnation" of chemical weapons, he added.
"It is really important for our allies like Britain and France to stand with us and show that these guys cannot get away with these atrocities," said Thornberry.
The United States can't fix Syria, he stressed, "but we have to make sure that ISIS does not get a foothold there and we have to work with our allies to try to keep a lid on things or else we may get sucked into some wider conflict."
Both Syria and Russia have denied the Syrian government was involved in the attack that killed many women in children in a rebel-held suburb east of Damascus.
Thornberry said he also thinks it's good that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks to Security Council members so there will be a "full-court press" against such atrocities.
"An even stronger message is the budget bill that we passed a couple weeks ago to fully fund, for the first time in years, our military," he said. "What we do speaks much more clearly than what we say. To show Putin and Assad and everybody else that we're going to stand up and defend ourselves putting the resources behind our military is the strongest message that we can possibly send."
Thornberry also spoke out about the death toll rising in military aviation crashes, after Smith pointed out that 16 people died in the past three weeks alone after accidents.
The Pentagon has said that the crashes are not at crisis levels yet, said Smith, but Thornberry rejected that.
"It is definitely a crisis and it does not help anyone to stick your head in the sand and wish this crisis away," said Thornberry. "What happened was we cut the defense budget by 20 percent over the last eight years and the world did not get 20 percent safer."
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