August 1, 2014

Senator Johnson: president dithered on Syria

One United States lawmaker says Obama “dithered” for 2 1/2 years on what to do about Syria.

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) is calling the horrific killings in Syria “war crimes” and the U.S. needs to take action, saying over 100,000 innocent civilians have been slaughtered by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The White House has concluded on Wednesday that al-Assad’s regime deployed the chemical weapons against its own people last week. President Barack Obama told “PBS NewsHour” that if it’s true “there need to be international consequences.”

AUDIO:25 Johnson says Obama must lead, and he must earn public support.

The Oshkosh Republican says if the president had taken a stronger stance much earlier, the current situation might be different. At this point, he says, there aren’t any good options to deal with the “regional disaster.” Johnson adds, doesn’t envy anyone who has to deal with these enormously difficult and complex issues.

Many news agencies are referring to the “alleged” chemical weapons while seeking verification. Al-Assad’s government maintains the rebels are to blame for carrying out the attack, though Obama told PBS that claim was impossible based on the evidence. NATO said in a statement “Any use of (chemical) weapons is unacceptable and cannot go unanswered. Those responsible must be held accountable.”

AUDIO:16 Johnson is waiting to see what action Obama wants to take against Syria, now that the “red line” has been crossed.

Johnson says Obama needs to consult with U.S. allies and with members of Congress. He says if Obama “makes the case,” he believes Congress will support him.

AUDIO:15 Johnson says the president needs to take a strong stance against the use of chemical weapons.

Wisconsin’s senior U.S. senator is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.