WASHINGTON — The
President Obama, who announced Saturday that he would seek legislative backing for military action in response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons, sought to raise the pressure on
"My credibility's not on the line. The international community's credibility's on the line. And America and Congress' credibility's on the line," Obama said during a visit to Stockholm.
Administration officials have repeatedly compared Syrian President
On a 10-7 vote, the
Several senators from both parties, including opponents of the resolution, predicted the Senate would approve it next week. Yet the Senate's conflicted views were clear in the vote, which saw Democrats and Republicans on each side. Menendez and Sen.
Serious doubts on
Obama, meanwhile, insisted he was not alone in demanding a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21, but was joined by nations that signed treaties banning chemical weapons and by Congress, which ratified them. "I didn't set a red line; the world set a red line" he said. "That wasn't something I just kind of made up."
The Senate committee's resolution limits any U.S. mission to 90 days and prohibits the use of ground troops.
The resolution was amended to include language from McCain and Sen.
Supporters hope that language will capture the votes of centrist lawmakers, as well as hawks. But it could drive away antiwar Democrats and anti-interventionist Republicans in the House, who have been insisting the strikes should not pull the United States deeper into another war.
The difficulty of winning votes in the House — particularly among majority Republicans — was clear at the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Secretary of State
The panel's chairman, Rep.
In one combative exchange, Rep.
"Let's draw the proper distinction here," Kerry sternly responded. "We don't deserve to drag this into yet another Benghazi discussion when the real issue here is whether or not the Congress is going to stand up for international norms with respect to dictators that have only been broken twice until Assad: Hitler and Saddam Hussein. And if we give license to somebody to continue that, shame on us."
Strong statements in support of a resolution came from Reps.
"The day the United States does not act is not just the day that Bashar al Assad knows it's open season for chemical weapons, but also the day
In an interview, Kinzinger estimated there was only a 40% chance the House would pass a resolution, "maybe 50 if we're lucky."
Given the divide among Republicans,
Dempsey acknowledged that the risk of escalation can never be ruled out entirely. The military intends to limit U.S. involvement "in time and commitment," he said. "That's not to say I discount the risk of escalation, which I can never discount. But we've mitigated it as much as possible."
Kerry portrayed the intervention as an issue of conscience for the world. He suggested that if the U.S. does not act, that will tell Assad: "Nobody cares. Gas your people. You do what you need to to stay in office."
He compared the alleged sarin gas attack on the Damascus suburbs, which U.S. intelligence agencies concluded killed more than 1,400 people, to the slaughter of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Kerry also acknowledged that Arab countries had offered to pay for the U.S. military to oust Assad. "With respect to Arab countries offering to bears costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes," he said. "That offer is on the table."
Obama heads to St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday, where he will press world leaders to act. He did not say whether he would meet with Russian President
Putin, in an interview with First Channel, a Russian federal television network, and the Associated Press, said he hoped to meet with Obama. He also said he had not ruled out backing a U.S.-led military operation in Syria if the Kremlin gets proof that Assad's government carried out a poison gas attack.
But Putin also said it would be "completely ridiculous" for the Syrian army to use gas when it is winning on the battlefield. And he recalled erroneous American arguments about weapons of mass destruction that led to the