News / USA

Key Lawmakers to Obama: Enhanced Strategy for Syria Needed

Lawmakers Urge Obama to Enhance Strategy to Degrade Assad, Aid Rebelsi
X
September 03, 2013 12:40 AM
President Obama met Monday with two key Republican senators, seeking their support for a resolution authorizing use of military force in Syria that will be the focus of hearings this week on Capitol Hill. The White House accelerated efforts to overcome skepticism about a potential military strike to respond to the August 21 chemical weapons attack. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports
As the White House continues to make the case to U.S. lawmakers that Congress should approve military action against Syria's government, President Obama met Monday with two key Republican senators whose support will be crucial.  

On national security matters, especially those involving the Middle East, President Obama has often consulted with Senator John McCain, whom he defeated in the 2008 presidential election.

McCain and fellor Republican Lindsey Graham are among lawmakers who for more than two years have urged a stronger U.S. response to the Syrian civil war, and now to the August 21 chemical attack in Damascus.

In what he called a "candid" exchange with the president, McCain said he emphasized the importance of degrading the Assad regime's capabilities, and upgrading those of Syrian rebels.

"We do want an articulation of a goal that over time will degrade Bashar al-Assad's capabilities, increase and upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army and the Free Syrian government so that they can reverse the momentum on the battlefield that is presently not in their favor because they have not received the assistance that they need," said McCain.

Graham spoke of a "consensus" being formed to strengthen the opposition while degrading the Assad government.

"I am hopeful that over the coming days we will learn more about this strategy of degrading and upgrading, and that when the vote comes we can go on the floor of the Senate and say the administration has a plan apart from a limited military action that will allow us to get to where we need to go as a nation, which is to deter Iran from a nuclear weapons march and to stabilize the region before it's too late," said Graham.

Neither elaborated on how they believe Obama will lay out an enhanced strategy.

McCain said the administration will have to work very hard to persuade skeptical Americans, including reassuring there will be no U.S. boots on the ground.  He reiterated his concern about the effects of Congress voting down a use of force resolution.

"The consequences would be catastrophic in that the credibility of this country with friends and adversaries alike would be shredded, and it would be not only implications for this presidency but for future presidencies as well," he said.

McCain called what he heard Monday from Obama "encouraging," but said he wants to hear "concrete plans and details" explaining how next steps will differ from the past administration approach on Syria.

Asked if they discussed with Obama the hardening of Syrian defenses during any delay, McCain said he has been given "some reason to believe that very serious [military] strikes may take place, as opposed to cosmetic."

The meeting, and ongoing briefings for lawmakers, are part of an aggressive administration effort to reduce skepticism among members of both parties about the purpose and effectiveness of any attack.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

Congress formally returns to work on September 9.

In other developments, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called U.S. evidence of the alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime as "absolutely unconvincing.''

However, in Paris a government source said a French intelligence report on the chemical attack last month concludes that there was "massive use of chemical agents" and that Syrian forces were responsible.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, President Bashar al-Assad said military strikes against Syria could trigger "a regional war" and spread "chaos and extremism."

Assad dismissed Obama administration and French intelligence findings, saying the U.S. and France have been "incapable" of providing proof of Syrian government responsibility.

Latest images from Syria:

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
September 03, 2013 3:43 AM
I think it is the best decision, help the people who want to be free and end the bloodshed (Help by arming the FSA to protect their country from outsiders). The people want their nation to be free and assad will destroy Syria entirely himself by the looks of it because he can't have his own way. . It is time the world slaps assads hand. He does not own Syria, The people of Syria own Syria, they make Syria what it is not assad. Assad has murdered too many already, and he is just murdering more.
In Response

by: gig24
September 04, 2013 12:29 AM
You are in line with Sen McCain and SEN Graham. Keep in mind we got 2 Million Refugees the third inb military age ,male is upfront in miograting away into the EU. Call for boots on the ground ? I see a lot of empty boots on the side of FSA and Gen Idriss. Bad guys are there too, they jump quickly into those boots. Its getting a lot worse and wide-scaled before it can get better(better for USA/EU).Soon North Korea will give us the next headache.But i say "NK first" and it means "use of force ,no other means are left there.

by: EVERY SOLDIER WATCH THIS
September 02, 2013 7:23 PM
Most incredible speech ever, Charley Chaplin "The Dictator" 1940 before WWII, he mocks Hitler. Near the end of the speech he talks directly to his generals n military, "stand down, dont go along w this tyranny, fight for liberty, fight for humanity." Chaplin knew exactly what was coming. Its the same mf's at it again! Obama's globalist mandate is to take us to WW3 n end America! Stop this megalomaniac psychopath!
ABSOLUTE MUST WATCH! SHARE IT, MAKE IT VIRAL!
EVERY SOLDIER MUST SEE!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK2WJd5bXFg

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 02, 2013 1:04 PM
I almost forgot that Mr. President's manifesto to his election was premised on CHANGE. No wonder everything is changing, or must be changed. However, the change in Syria policy is not one the world can use. Chemical weapon - weapon of mass destruction - was used on civilians. Certainly the al qaida and other terrorists fighting on the side of the Opposition didn't have it, or they would have used it before that day. Syria is the only possible option, except Russia wants to bring in another country as possible introduction to the troubles in Syria. But that will be an unfair indictment.

The Arab League cannot continue to stand aloof wanting external forces to come do their work for them. They don't suggest military intervention, and they are not going in there to do it the "peaceful" way they must have suggested in their meeting on Sunday. That's just the outlook of a dog in the manger. What I find appalling in the whole trouble is that the US under Obama shouldn't have raised its voice to take action when it knows its afraid of Russian repercussion. But this should have been a good opportunity to repay Russia for granting Snowden the leader an asylum.

Well, let this be the precedence that countries are now free to treat their citizens anyhow they choose, except it runs counter to regional bloc objectives; in which case the fate of citizens under dictatorships and repressive governments hangs in the balance, at the mercy of such rulers and their goodwill with the regional body - if they are not toothless bulldog.

by: Marina Calvary from: UK
September 02, 2013 10:28 AM
weak... very weak...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs