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tv   FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace  FOX  September 1, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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i'm chris wallace. president obama does an about-face and asked congress to authorize military force in syria. >> our capacity to execute this mission isn't time sensitive. it will be effective tomorrow or next week or one month from now. >> after days of making the case, the assad regime killed more than a thousand of its own people with chemical weapons, the president says the deaths should not go unpunished. but -- >> while i believe i have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, i know that the country will be
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stronger if we take this course and our actions will be even more effective. >> we have a president who does what he says he will do. >> u.s. secretary of state john kerry joins us to discuss the president's decision to delay action in sere i canin syria mo week. then we talk with leaders of the armed services committee. jack reed and james inhaw and peter king who says the president is abdicating his responsibility as commander in chief. plus retired four-star general jack keen and joe lieberman join the sunday panel with their tack on president obama's decision to put syria on hold. all right now on "fox news sunday." >> hello, again, from fox news in washington. president obama shocked washington and the world saturday announcing he will seek congressional approval for the use of military force
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syria. this a day after secretary of state john kerry said u.s. intelligence proves the assad regime used chemical weapons and seemed to argue for a quick response. we'll talk with secretary kerry in a moment. first, we have fox team coverage. leland vitter from our mideast venue. ed ? >> good morning, chris. top syrian official charging president obama showed hesitation and confusion stemming from friday. the president made two dram tig decisions. time to step on the pedal, go to syria and wait, slam on the brakes. top aides say he decided friday the u.s. uh should move forward with military action to respond to the chemical weapons attack on august 21 that secretary kerry claims killed over 1400 people. later friday kerry made a case for prompt military action calling assad a thug.
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shortly after that kerry went out on a limb. we got a clue something might be amiss when the president had a photo op and gave a more tentative case. top officials say around 6:00 p.m. friday night the president went for a 45-minute walk on the south lawn of the white house with receive chief of staff dennis mcdunough and threw him a curve ball. the president shocked by the british parliament voting down military action revealed he was overriding kerry and the team to seek congressional authorization. what's interesting is this is a big delay. congress doesn't return to work until september 9. a dramatic re server sal because for days white house aides said they would only consult congress. friday, about 7:00 p.m. in the oval office the president had a two-hour meeting with senior staff. i am told there was real division in there. aides were concerned he could lose the vote. if he wins he could lose political capital doing that.
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kerry and members of the cabinet found out in phone calls from the president later in the night. but officials insist they came together saturday in the situation room. the president came out in the rose garden. he indicated even if congress votes it down he has the executive power to launch military action. that might be weeks down the road. the president declaring this me nas needs to be con fronted though apparently not right a y away. within minutes of leaving the rose garden the president and vice president left for a golf match. >> thanks, ed. now an early assessment of how the president's plan will do on capitol hill from chief congressional correspondent mike emmanuel. >> senate foreign relation s chair bob menendez scheduled a hearing on the use of force for tuesday. harry reid says military action in syria is justified and says the senate will vote no later than the week of september 9. house intelligence chairman mike
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rogers says u.s. credibility is on the line after the syrian regime used chemical weapons on its people. rogers says lawmakers must look at what failure to act would send to enemies and allies around the world. a key republican senator says he has an open mind about the use of force in syria but isn't sold on the arguments so far. >> they have suggested that the u.s. military should be employed to vindicate so-called international norms. in my view, u.s. military force is justified only to protect the vital national security interests of the united states. >> senator chambliss, a top republican on the intelligence community says leadership is about reacting to crisis and quickly making tough decisions. chambliss says the president should have demanded congress return immediately. florida democrat bill nilson says i support the president's
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decision but as far as i'm concerned we should strike in syria today. the chairman of the senate armed services committee, democrat carl levin wants an international coalition; quote, it is important that the president in seeking support and sparp tags from other countries include uhhing arab countries while the administration works on the coalition we should note house members will receive a classified briefing later today and house aides say the president will have to invest time and effort in making the case with lawmakers for military action in syria. chris? >> mike, thank you. joining us now to discuss the stunning turnaround on syria is secretary of state john kerry. welcome back to fox news sunday. >> thank you. great to be with you, chris. >> mr. secretary, you made the case for military action in the strongest possible terms on friday. if the situation is so dire, if al assad is such a thug, why is
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the president waiting until congress comes back -- nine days from now -- to debate this? why not call them into session tomorrow and begin this debate and get approval to act? >> well, chris, the case hasn't changed and the case doesn't change at all. the rationale for the military response the president has requested is as powerful today and will be as powerful if not more powerful each day. the fact is yesterday we have now learned that hair and blood samples that have come to us from east damascus from individuals who are engaged as first responders in east damascus, i can report to you today they have tested positive for signatures of saran. this case will build stronger and stronger. the president believes the
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united states of america for a decision like this is stronger when you have the time to have support of the united states congress and the support of the american people through them. i think america is stronger here. that's the president's belief. i think people should celebrate that the president isn't moving unilaterally. he's honoring requests he heard from people in congress to consult and be engaged with them. i think realizing that the assad regime is already on the defensive. they are being significantly impacted by the potential of the strikes. we do not lose anything. we gain. what we gain is the legitimacy of the full-throated response of the congress of the united states and the president acting together after our democratic processes work properly. >> mr. secretary, this isn't "csi." this isn't a civics lesson.
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people's lives are at stake, as i don't have to tell you, on the ground in syria. on friday in your remarks you h this matters beyond the borders of syria. take a look. >> it is about whether iran which itself has been a victim of chemical weapons attacks will now feel emboldened in the absence of action to obtain nuclear weapons. it is about hezbollah and north korea. >> mr. secretary, what message are we sending to iran, hezbollah and north korea when the president announces he thinks we should take military action but he's going to wait nine days before congress comes back to take action. then he goes to play golf. what message does it send to rebels on the ground whose lives are in danger and our enemies who are watching? >> i think north korea and iran ought to take note that the
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united states of america has the confidence in its democratic process to be able to ask all of the american people to join in an action that could have profound implications with respect to iran. the fact is if we act in concert then iran will know this nation is capable of speaking with one voice on something like this. it has profound implications, i think, with respect to the potential of a confrontation over their nuclear program. that is one of the things that's at stake here. i said that. you quoted it. that and america's willingness to en force the international norm on chemical weapons. i think we are stronger. the president believes we are stronger when the congress of the united states joins in this. i mean, congress can't have it both ways. you can't sit there and say, you have to consult with us. we have to honor the constitutional process and congress has the right to make its voice heard in these
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decisions. the president is giving them the opportunity. i think you should welcome it, chris, and the congress and the country should welcome this. >> but -- >> the debate is important. with do not lose anything militarily in the meantime. if assad -- >> they lose the possibility that they could get killed in the meantime. if i may follow up, reagan didn't think he needed congressleal approval to go after gadhafi in libya. clinton didn't need it to go after kosovo or al qaeda. this president -- >> actually, chris, at the instant the planes were in the air in kosovo there was a vote in the house of representatives and the vote didn't carry. the truth is the president would have loved to have support from congress. the fact is our country is much stronger when we act together. i'm amazed that you would argue against the congress of the
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united states weighing in when, in fact, already assad is on the defensive. he's moving assets around, hunkering down. the fact is this strike can have impact when it needs to with the support of the congress of the united states. >> and the -- >> let me finish. if the assad regime is foolish enough to attack again and do something in the meantime, of course the president of the united states knows he has the power to do this. i assume the president would move very, very rapidly. he feels we are stronger in getting the united states as a whole to gel around this policy, to understand it better and to know what the strategy is and why the united states needs to do this. >> what if congress refuses to authorize action? what happens then? >> i don't believe that's going to happen. i think the stakes of upholding
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the international standard of behavior that has been in place since 1925 after world war i, that only adolf hitler and saddam hussein breached that in times of war. now assad joins them. i think to contemplate the congress of the united states would turn its back on israel, jordan, turkey, our allies in the region, turn its back on the innocent syrian people slaughtered by this gas, and those who yet may be subject to an attack. if we don't stand up to this, i can't condetemplate that congre would turn its back on that responsibility and the fact that we would have, in fact, granted impunity to a ruthless dictator to continue to gas his people. those are the stakes. >> mister -- >> i don't believe the congress will do that. >> mr. secretary, you make it sound like this was the plan. on friday when you made your speech, you made a powerful call for quick action. you seemed to be leading the
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charge up the hill. >> chris, i made a powerful call for action. i never mentioned the word "quick." i made the case for why we needed to take action. >> you talked about making a decision now. if i may, sir -- >> the president has taken his decision, chris. the president announced his decision yesterday. >> but nothing will happen for ten days. >> well, chris, it will happen with the consent of the congress of the united states and be much more powerful. and i believe allow us to even do more coordinating with our friends and allies, do more planning. frankly be far more effective. i think this is a smart decision by the president, a courageous decision. he's not trying to create an imperial presidency. he's trying to respect the process by which we are strongest in this country. >> but, sir -- >> and people should welcome
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this. >> if i may just ask my question. the fact is this was not the plan. the white house has acknowledged -- >> i don't know why -- >> if i could ask the question, sir. the white house acknowledges this was not the plan. the white house podium, the press spokesman said you didn't need congressional approval . we are told the president went out with his chief of staff on the lawn friday night, changed his mind, talked to white house staff and you and other cabinet officials were informed after the fact. this was never the plan. >> i disagree. i received a telephone call from the president the night before. he discussed it. he had not made up his mind. i believe it is a good idea. i think the vice president, a whole group of people believe that the president has made a courageous decision. as you know, chris, and i think -- you know, i have certainly learned as a new member of a cabinet no decision is made until the president of the united states makes the decision. staff can advise.
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people can weigh in. but everybody knows that ultimately no decision is made until the president makes it. the president made this decision. i believe it is the right decision. i think we are stronger. the president believes very much that america will show the best face of our democracy and great strength. we will show unity of purpose and the conviction of the congress and the president that we need to do this. >> sir, i have -- >> during this time over the next days, we have an opportunity to regauge and to fine tune our strategy on seryr. people like john mccain, lindsey graham have thoughts about how to strengthen it. we can create unity of purpose here that makes america stronger and that is, frankly, much more damaging and much more problematic for assad. >> one final question, sir. we have less than a minute left. you talk about this will make it worse for assad.
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after the president announced his decision. officials in damascus were saying that the president flinched, made a joke of the american administration. a newspaper in the streets of damascus today calls this, quote , the start of the historicanre. haven't you handed syria and iran at least a temporary victory, sir? >> i don't believe so at all. that is in the hands of the congress of the united states. the president has made his decision. the president wants to stand up and make certain that we uphold the international norm, that we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people. anybody who saw those images. anybody who now focuses on the evidence i just gave you about signatures of sarin, hair and blood samples of first responders. i mean, first responders died.
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people who went to peep heople were hurt died in this case. this is a man who has committed a crime against humanity. i can't imagine the congress of the united states will not recognize our interests with respect to iran, israel, jordan, turkey, our friends in the region, the syrian people, the opposition. america's credibility is on the line here. i expect the congress of the united states to do what is right and to stand up and be counted. i think that the assad regime need s to recognize that they have refocused the energy of the american people on him, on his regime, on his lack of legitimacy the to govern and on the ways we will support the opposition in order to see that the people of syria can choose their future in an appropriate way. >> secretary kerry, thanks for joining us. it should be an interesting couple of weeks, sir. >> that it may be.
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i believe that in the end, the congress of the united states will do what is right. >> thank you, sir. up next, as the president decides to seek congressional approval what's the reaction on capitol hill? we'll talk with three leading lawmakers, plus a live report from the middle east. how will our friends and enemies read it -- the decision to delay a military strike. help the gulf recover and learn from what happened so we could be a better, safer energy company. i can tell you - safety is at the heart of everything we do. we've added cutting-edge technology, like a new deepwater well cap and a state-of-the-art monitoring center, where experts watch over all drilling activity twenty-four-seven. and we're sharing what we've learned, so we can all produce energy more safely. our commitment has never been stronger. nascar is about excitement. but tracking all the action and hearing everything from our marketing partners, the media and millions
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u.s. navy warships armed with dozens of tomahawk missiles are sitting in the eastern mediterranean waiting for the order to open fire. but they will have to wait more than a week longer. leland vitter joins us from our mideast bureau. >> leaders around the region are scratching their heads asking two things -- what happened, and what does it mean now? until the yesterday when the american president drew a line in the sign it meant something. now folks aren't sure. government officials in israel use words like coward off the record. the syrians meanwhile are declaring victory on state tv today. president assad said, quote, seyria will not change its principles. the deputy prime minister speaking on television yesterday said america had lost the battle before it started. the administration had made a joke of itself. that was while syrian state tv
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showed street parties in celebration. the syrians spent the week moving military hardware around to keep it away from u.s. targeting to make good on their promise to attack telaviv if the u.s. struck in response to that. israel deployed the iron dome missile defense system, called up reserve soldiers, cancelled military leave. the israelis say they will remain on high alert through the next period to see what the americans do. there is probably a bigger story here from the israeli perspective and from the middle east perspective. what the u.s. did about syria was seen as a test for what president obama may do about iran, something he's drawn a similar red line about when it comes to the iranian nuclear program. there is now a fear in israel if push comes to shove with iran, the israelis may have to go it alone. strength , of course, in the middle east isn't measured by what you say but what you do, chris. especially now it is looked as
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though the syrian s, even the russians, were eye to eye with president obama and president obama has blinked. in order for him to re gain credibility in the region for, of course, the red lines of the president of the united states to mean something, it's seen as that will be judged by what president obama actually does, not what he or members of his administration say. back to you. >> leland reporting from the middle east. we want congressional reaction now from two leaders of the senate armed services committee. jack reed, democrat from rhode island, and the committee's top republican james inhofe of oklahoma. also congressman peter king of new york who sits on the house intelligence committee. you heard president obama's announcement yesterday that he's going to go to capitol hill to seek congressional authorization for the use of military use against syria. congressman king, you called this an abdication of the responsibilities of the commander in chief.
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from my civic books, i thought i remembered the president is supposed to go to congress before taking military action. >> no, he's not. the president is commander in chief and has absolute constitutional and statutory power. president eisenhower, reagan, clinton, all took it. under the war powers act he's authorized to do it. if he says this is as important as it is and sending mixed signals over the last year and certainly over the last ten days, this is a clear failure of leadership. if you feel so strongly about it and doesn't want to take action he should call us back into session tomorrow. we can't wait niner oh t, ten d allowing syria to continue and send mixed signals. if we can't stop syria's chemical weapons how can anyone expect us to stop iran with the red line on nuclear weapons? >> senator reed, it seemed we were on the verge this weekend of taking military action
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against syria. the white house said the president was prepared to go it uh alone without congressional approval, without support from any of the allies. now he puts all this off for more than a week un util congre comes back. he doesn't call you into special session tomorrow. you heard leland talking about the middle east. a lot of people say the president flinched. >> the president made the right decision. he was very clear that he had not decided on military action. i think he recognized that in the long run he and the country and the world would be stronger if congress was supportive of his activities. this is not just a short-term effort. this is a longer-term effort. also, too, his response was in recognition of many republicans and democrats who were calling for congressional participation.
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he has to work hard for consensus. he has to work internationally to build a strong international coalition. so that will help not only carry out the operation but also give him additional support within congress to build the coalition. he made the right choice. >> senator inhofe, before the president made the decision to go to congress you were public and critical of what you saw as the president'slimited plan to strike syria. best dweguess, will congress approve the authorization of the use of oh force? >> i don't think they will. chris, for some reason nobody wants to talk about the real serious problem here. that is the condition of our military today. a week ago i said i would oh oppose going in and having military intervention against syria. it may sound easy when people like secretary kerry say this is going to be quick and we'll go
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in and send cruise missiles, wash our oh hands and go home. it doesn't work that way. this could be war in the middle east. it's serious. you have to understand what this president has done to our military. it's so degraded. i want to read a quote by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. he said our military force is so degraded and unready it would be immoral to use force. that's what they are talking about -- using force. >> congressman king, we keep hearing and in fact we hear from secretary kerry, the president himself how war-weary the country is. what do you think of the chances that congress will reject the use of force and, if they were to do that, does the president then consider going unilaterally and acting?
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>> first i felt bad for senator kerry having to defend the indefensib indefensible. it will be hard to get the vote through when there is time in nine days for the opposition to build up to it. when they see the president being weak many members of congress will vote no. i will vote yes. that's my intention now. back in 1999 with kosovo the house did vote against engagement and bill clinton kept fighting anyway. ultimately a vote did pass. but he has bombing missions in kosovo after the house voted against him taking action. the president has the constitutional power to do it. i don't know what president obama will do. i have no clue at all what's in his mind on this issue. >> briefly, congressman king, to follow up, do you think the republicans in the house will as a group vote for or against the use of force? >> right now, i would say if the vote were today it would be a no vote. i'm hoping by the time next week
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comes around and hopefully the president can make his case that he will be h able to get a majority of the house of representatives. right now it would be difficult. also we have an increase ing isolationist wing in the party which is damaging to the party and the nation. >> the president said he 's looking forward to a vigorous debate. let's begin that here. i want to talk about what a lot of people think is a kind of disconnect between the threat that the administration talks about in syria and the very limited action that they are talking about actually taking against the assad regime. let's listen to secretary of state kerry on friday. >> if we choose to live in a world where a thug and murderer like bashar al assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe they can do as they will. >> but if assad is a thug and a
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murderer, as the secretary of state just said there, senator inhofe, why should the u.s. limit itself to a strike that -- you know, we have heard more of oh what they're not going to do than what they are. short-term, limited, punitive, no attempt at regime change. does that make sense against a thug and murderer ? senator inhofe? >> this is part of the salesmanship of secretary kerry. he's been saying this. it will be short, easy, quick. we all know that isn't going to be the case. it will be something that could be long and last a long period of time. so, you know, for the secretary of state to talk about all of these allies of ours who are united wanting us to do that, let's hear from them. we have already heard that iran who will have the capability of a weapon and a delivery system that would reach the united states by 2015, they have already h stated that they would
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take action against israel. it's not quite that easy. by the way, we are going to be meeting on wednesday. our senate armed services committee. i hope to get this point across that we are going to have to somehow tie in our capabilities with the military that we have now with what the president wants to do. >> senator reed, let's talk about the nature of the limited attack that the administration is pushing for. secretary kerry said that we cannot allow bashar assad to gas hundreds of his people with impunity. but we will allow him to slaughter 100,000 of his people with bombs and guns? >> well, the objective we are trying to achieve here is to reaffirm a standard of international law that has existed since the end of world war i that chemical weapons will not be used. the president believes and his military advisers have given him
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options that are vigorous and limited. clearly limited. we want to vindicate this principle of international law. not just in the case of syria but as others have suggested there are countries in the region, countries across the world -- north korea, for example -- who have chemical weapons. we want to make it clear they cannot be used. that's the principle here. there are other issues with respect to supporting the syrian opposition. i believe the president should continue to carry through on his pledges to supply, in this case, limited legal aid such as anti-tank weapons and weapons like that. this issue is about in terms of the world stopping the use of chemical weapons. >> as i discussed with secretary kerry, this is not just about syria. it's also about hezbollah and north korea and iran. senator inhofe, what kind of
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message does the president send when he calls a time-out of oh more than a week on taking action, says he'll give it to congress. talks about a very limited attack and heads off to europe? what message should our enemies around the world read from this? >> well, chris, first of all, i think the thing that should not have been done is the line of the in the sand or oh the red line saying we are going to do this, sounding very, very -- if he's going to make that statement, he ought to stay with it. even though i don't agree with what he's going to ultimately want to do. but if you're going to say something, you've got to back it up. this president has clearly retreated from the position that he took not just in the last couple of days, but about a week ago when he talked about the red line. >> senator reed, finally, let's play this out. suppose you have the debate in congress. you heard senator inhofe and peter king say this is risky and may not pass.
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what if congress reject it is use of force? does the president go ahead unilaterally after congress rejected it, after he spent a week seeking their support? what message would congressional reejection send to your friends and enemies in the middle east? >> i think the president has to work diligently -- not just the president but his whole cabinet has to work diligently to convince not just the congress but the american people that this is in the interest of the united states. not just simply in the interest of another country. that vindicating this international norm will be incredibly important to us, to our closele allies like israeld will put us in a position, as my colleagues suggested, as we confront further issues in the middle east such as the iranians' aspirations. this is critically important. i think the case should be and could be made. i think that if there is another serious incident by the syrians,
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if they again use chemical weapons as secretary kerry suggested, the president has already stated and feels he has the international authority to move forward. the president has that. i think the real issue here is making sure and as jim inhofe indicated, we are beginning deliberations with the foreign relations committee and the armed services committee to build a case to get the support but just as importantly get the support of the american people. >> senator reed, inhofe, congressman king, thanks for joining us today. many of your colleagues wanted to debate the president's plan. now you will get your chance. >> thank you. >> thank you, chris. >> coming up, we bring in the sunday panel including a retired four-star general and a veteran senator to discuss how the president's decision to hit the pause button on military action will be seen in the middle east. dad. how did you get here? i don't know.
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we said stop doing this. >> it will not involve any boots on the ground. it will not be open-ended. >> it would be very limited. and it would not involve a long-term commitment or a major operation. >> the policy is not regime change when it comes to this scenario. >> the president and top officials talking more this week about what they won't do in syria than what they will before mr. obama put the process on hold saturday while he seeks congressional approval. time now for our sunday group. fox news military analyst and former army vice chief of staff,
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retired four star general jack keen. former senator joe lieberman and jennifer rube n and charles lane from "the washington post." we can all agree military action is about more than cruise missiles. it's about support, ork oh straiting the run-up to war. general keen, i keep focusing on this. what message is the president sending to our friends and enemies in the region with all the talk that went on for a week about the limits. the restrictions on what we'll do in syria and then putting the parole whole process on pause for more than a week to wait for congressional approval? >> you know, this is a surprise. in a sense i'm not shocked by it. there is a pattern of hesitation, delay and it's been a part of his behavior for some time. the fact of the matter is, i
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think the white house is somewhat paralyzed by fear of adverse consequence. it dominates their thinking. what you get in the region then strategically is a sense of a lack of certainty of the united states. are we going to be there for them? here, given the horrific nature of the attack, given the moral imperative leading oh u.s. officials made and now we have a pattern of hesitation and delay. we have seen it in the past, chris. ef even after we had certain knowledge of bin laden's location it took six months to act. the same thing in libya with half measures. we started and pulled back forces. afghanistan, escalated the war but announce add withdrawal date. this hesitation, delay and half measures has been a pattern which led to a dmiiminishment o oh u.s. stature in the region. >> senator, have you ever seen anything like this where a
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president seems about to take us to serious military action. then, wait a minute, i will wait for congress to come back in ten days from vacation. >> i never saw anything like it. we had president clinton act b in boz knsnia and kosovo withou congress. bush 41 was amassing troops, over a half h million americans. there was a debate about whether to come to congress for authorization. he did. it was close. passed only 52-47. nothing like this in the sense that president state it is red line of the use of chemical weapons. the administration says consistently that he doesn't have to come to congress. secretary kerry on friday in a brilliant, convincing, moving statement essentially indicts bashar al assad as a mass
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murderer. the president said yesterday, let's wait. there is a mass murderer loose. right now dispersing to critical assets. any advantage of a surprise attack in syria is diminishing rapidly. maybe it's gone. >> so now the battleground isn't sere i can't, at least for the next ten days. it's capitol hill. jennifer, what do you think congress will do? >> i spoke with leadership offices yesterday. i was curious myself. they say we have no idea. it just points really to the lunacy of the reversal. if they don't know whether the votes are there, the president certainly doesn't know the votes are there. obviously a negative vote would once again raise questions as to what the president intends to do. he's hadserver sales. we had the first red line.
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he said we would act. we didn't. another reversal. the another incident of chemical weapons use. he said that was the red line. going back to congress. they are smarter and more p perceptive than we are. >> if anyone sees the president's side it's you. do you see the actions, the run-up to war and hitting the pause button? >> look, no one will dispute it's been mismanaged in many ways. i would hope some people would acknowledge the difficulty of the problem b he faces. it's a bit too much to dismiss going to congress as lunacy since it is what the constitution b calls for. it's been what a lot of republicans have been calling for. i think the president has a problem here. he thinks this is turning the
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table tables and letting them work it out. they have him over a barrel. he's basically gone to congress, one house of which is dominate bid republicans and ask for a political bailout. they start demanding before they give him what he says he wants. >> we have to take a break. when we come back, the president says he looks forward to debate over his plan for a limited strike against the assad regime. we'll ask the panel if that's likely to stop the carnage or em bolden syria.
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check out for behind-the-scenes features, panel plus and the special monday preview of the week ahead. you can find it at let us know what you think. stay tuned for more from our panel.
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it sounds to me like saving face because he made a promise so he'll follow through with the promise. you ought to be careful about drawing lines in the sand or red lines. now he feels that he looks weak to his colleagues in the united states as well as international colleagues. i don't think that's enough reason to go to war. >> kentucky senator rand paul
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already joining the debate over the p's handling of the situation in syria. we are now back with the panel. we'll hear a lot in the next week and a half ab this debate. the best way forward in syria. general keen, what do you think of the president's plan as he has laid it out? short term, limited, basically focused on attacking assad's chemical weapons capability, not regime change. >> well, first of all, i don't like the fact that we have given the enemy time to harbor their significant military resources. the operation should have been over by now, much less extended another few weeks. secondly, i did support limited action if the objective is to reduce significant military capability. i was suggesting that assad would never believe he would use chemical weapons and have to give up his air power. that's within the means of these instruments thatter we are doing.
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shut down his airfields, airplanes, logistic infrastructures, supports, all of that. that's still obtainable to a certain degree. we have to work hard, i believe, to make this strike very effective. i think it should be tied to something as strategic in terms of moving the advantage to the opposition forces and not just a punitive measure. it should be coupled with military aid to the rebel forces leading the attack and geographically separated from the jihad forces. >> senator lieberman, a couple former colleagues in the senate, john mccain, lindsey graham suggested they might oppose this not because it does too much but because it doesn't do enough. it's too limited and there is no point in this kind of strike if you aren't going to do what keen says which is degrade assad's ability to slaughter his own people. >> notwithstanding what i said
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about how shocked and disappointed i was by the president's decision to go to congress for authorization because he has the authority now to do it, that's what a commander in chief is supposed to do. the worst end would be for congress not to give the president authority to act. it would be catastrophic. there will be people in republican and democrat party who for policy reasons will oppose. others will be tempted to hang the president out there. they will be hanging america out there and compromising our credibility in the world. i appeal to congress to give president the authority he's asked for. incidentally, the fact that he has waited now and gone to congress, in my opinion, has given the syrians the right to disperse asset s and will now
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require him, i think, not just to take a shot across the bow but to hit the bow. to hit the bow where the leadership of syria is which ordered the chemical weapons attacks that we have evidence killed almost 1500 people and 426 children. i'm doing everything i can to convince them to strengthen the resolution and vote for it. don't let it fail. >> jennifer, does a limited strike after an additional delay serve a useful purpose? >> it depends how limited it is, i suppose. what general keen suggested is you can stop short of regime change and make a difference. >> i'm talking about the president. >> what the president is talking about seems useless. the worst thing we could do is throw missiles in there, have assad beat his chest and say he survived the united states, have the iranians conclude all you have to do is in essence pay a traffic ticket and keep going on
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the way to wmds. interestingly the resolution the white house has is rather broad. it says the president can take actions as necessary to deal with the wmd situation. general keen made the argument in order to deal with it you have to do more. my argument would be in order to deal with it, you have to get rid of assad as well. >> chuck. >> we're not doing that. the president isn't going to do that. wish for it all we want. the worst thing that could happen would be nothing turn at this point. whether congress turned it down or the president after getting authority decided to do nothing. now with the problem, the debate will be about calibrating. that's a bad business to be in, but not as bad as letting it end with nothing. >> that's why you don't have decisions made by congress. there are 535 game plans. that's why it is so difficult to throw the ball into congress's court. they don't act with one voice. >> well, he's asking for very
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broad authority within -- once he gets it he can draw up the plan and calibrate how much force we'll use. >> let me bring in general keen. we have a minute left. say congress approves and the president launches the air strike. as limited as he's talking about. what happens it s the day afte? do you understand what our strategy is for syria and the threat for iran? >> no, i don't. the issue with syria, i think for many of us has always been about iran. this is an anchor point in terms of reengional domination. they are all here. they have the revolutionary guards and they have never taken forces like that outside the country and intervened. they are here because it is critical to them. strategically we have to keep an eye on the ball. our strategy dealing with syria is inadequate and will be after
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this strike. >> in 30 seconds how much trouble are we in in the middle east now? >> well, the middle east is in tumult. >> i mean u.s. policy. >> i'm sure our enemies are cheering as a result of the decision. it's not clear the president will get authority and the allies are worried. not just allies in the arab world. not in the middle east. it's in asia where they depend on american strength and credibility. this resolution or oh something like it has to pass congress. >> thank you, panel. see you next week. remember this discussion continues on sunday on panel plus. find it on our website, follow us on twitter @fox news sunday. we'll be right back with a final word. wo big goals: help the gulf recover and learn from what happened so we could be a better, safer energy company. i can tell you - safety is at the heart of everything we do.
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