Tipton still opposed to Syria strike; senators cite ‘encouraging signs’
President Barack Obama’s call for a diplomatic approach working with Russian President Vladimir Putin got a warm reception — and sharp criticism — from Coloradans in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said that after a briefing on the use of sarin gas in Syria he saw no reason to alter his opposition to military action.
The United States, he said, should take the lead in levying sanctions and seeking diplomatic solutions at the United Nations, rather than depending on Putin, whom Obama described as Syrian dictator’s Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally.
“Putin is suspect, obviously,” Tipton said. “Maybe we ought to lead rather than follow the Russians” on any effort to take control of Syria’s chemical weapons.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said he was “encouraged by the movement today toward an international diplomatic resolution to this crisis, and I am pleased the president is carefully pursuing this option.”
The United States “must continue to lead the international community toward an appropriate response to Assad’s deplorable use of chemical weapons,” Udall said, adding that the nation’s leadership and strength are “well served by our participation in this emerging multilateral process.”
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., also noted “encouraging signs” in diplomatic proposals, but said the best outcome “would result in Syria forfeiting its chemical weapon supply without a military strike ... but we should not be naïve about the challenges of achieving such an outcome. Only immediate, verifiable and concrete steps should be acceptable as the start of any diplomatic solution.”
In any case, Syria’s use of chemical weapons “cannot go unanswered and we should continue to consider all possible options,” Bennet said in a statement.
The entire issue might have been avoided had Obama not uttered his “red line” warning, Tipton said.
“This is an unfortunate foreign-policy blunder frankly,” Tipton said. “Had the president simply said all options are on the table we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
Absent from the briefing, which depicted the “terrible” consequences of sarin, were assurances of what the United States would do in the event that the strike killed Assad or dislodged him from power, leaving a vacuum possibly to filled by al Qaeda or its allies. Tipton said.