Former Clintonite advises Obama to explain the evidence against Assad

Updated
A United Nations (UN) arms expert collects samples as they inspect the site where rockets had fallen in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb during an...
A United Nations (UN) arms expert collects samples as they inspect the site where rockets had fallen in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb during an...
Photoby Ammar al-Arbini/AFP/Getty Images

William Cohen, the former secretary of defense under President Clinton, told NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell Thursday that the purpose of military intervention in Syria “has never been clearly described,” and advised President Obama to present evidence of a chemical attack to the United Nations Security Council and put dissenting member nations “on the line.”

“I would think it would be wise for the president to take the Russians up on this and go to the U.N. Security Council with the evidence that both the vice president and Secretary Kerry have said is pretty overwhelming, that points to the Syrian government’s use of the chemical weapons,” Cohen said. “Put that in front of the Security Council, lay out the evidence. And then if the Russians veto taking any action, you can then hang on the Russians the fact that they’re supporting the gassing of women and children with chemical weapons and really bang that drum loudly.”

Cohen also said that the president should appeal to congress for support and detail mission plans.

“What is the mission’s purpose here?” Cohen asked Thursday. “A limited strike to do what? To punish Syria? Well, that’s not the reason to use, under international law, to use military power. It’s to degrade its military and then to deter [Assad] from future action.”

Watch Secretary Cohen’s interview with Andrea Mitchell below: 

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Former Clintonite advises Obama to explain the evidence against Assad

Updated