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.


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As chronicled by Gary Harmon today (“Tipton still opposed to Syria strike; senators cite ‘encouraging signs’”), Scott Tipton’s rationale for opposing military action against Syria would be laughable – if the stakes weren’t so high.

Tipton sees “no reason to alter his opposition to military action” because – like local “Tea Partiers” – he blithely denies any connection between enforcing “international norms” and America’s national interests.

Tipton suggests that we “should take the lead in levying sanctions and seeking diplomatic solutions, rather then relying on Putin”, ignoring the fact that the Obama Administration – resisting calls from partisan “hawks” for more active involvement in Syria’s civil war – has been doing so for two years, but were stymied by Russia’s U.N. veto power. 
On June 15, 2001, President Bush “looked [Putin] in the eye”, got “a sense of his soul”, and “found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy”.
On December 12, 2003, Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act, finding that its acquisition of chemical weapons threatened U.S. national security.
Beginning on August 20, 2012, President Obama five-times cited the “red line” against Syria’s use of chemical weapons implicit in both international treaties and U.S. law.
Following Assad’s sarin gas attack on August 21, 2013, Obama positioned missile-laden warships within striking distance of Syria.
Tipton opines that “’maybe we ought to lead rather than follow the Russians’ on any effort to take control of Syria’s chemical weapons”.  “Maybe” Tipton forgets that President Obama proposed that solution to Putin in June 2012.
President Obama’s critics doubt that his leadership (even without Putin’s help) – coupled with the “credible threat” of cruise missiles – will end the impass.  Putin and Assad know that the “red line” was no “unfortunate foreign policy blunder” – and that “all options [remain] on the table”—even if Tipton doesn’t.  Only time will tell.

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