The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell Wednesday that he was “disappointed’ in President Obama’s address to the nation on the Syrian conflict Tuesday night.
“I do believe there’s a national security interest for the United States to engage militarily or diplomatically to make sure that there’s not a proliferation in use of chemical weapons by this regime or any other regime,” Rogers said.
“And I just didn’t get the sense that the president, you know, raised it to that level,” Rogers said on Andrea Mitchell Reports. “He didn’t have that steely resolve of a commander-in-chief.”
President Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday night wasn’t the galvanizing call-to-action his administration envisioned weeks ago, after evidence showed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against civilians, killing nearly 1,500.
Instead Obama warned military intervention may be necessary, but cautiously embraced a diplomatic solution offered by Russia to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.
Rogers offered his take on the Russians’ motive.
“They were looking to gain some space, some battle space for Assad, meaning that he could, you know, dig in, get more comfortable, refresh his weapons and refresh his standing,” Rogers told Mitchell.
Russia balked at an effort to include a Chapter 7 provision in the draft resolution, ensuring compliance by authorizing the use of force if necessary.
“They know that’s a deal killer,” Rogers said. “This is what’s going to take months.”
Rogers said the president “doesn’t have a lot of leverage” and would have fared better in negotiations with the Russians if Congress had voted to authorize U.S. military strikes.
“I think we’re going to have a crippled negotiating team walking into the room where Putin right now holds all the cards on getting rid of those chemical weapons,” Rogers said.