Washington, DC, United States (4E) – President Barack Obama’s plan to stop Syrian forces from using chemical weapons in the country’s ongoing civil war got a boost Monday from Republican senators, who warned that a no vote from Congress affects U.S. credibility and stance against Iran’s nuclear program.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made the point after emerging from a Labor Day meeting with Obama, who is wooing Congress to approve a resolution authorizing him to launch a military strike on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack on civilians.
McCain said the credibility of the U.S. and its presidency is at stake and a no vote from the Senate and House will be catastrophic. He also said that a weak U.S. military response “is almost as bad as doing nothing.”
Graham hinted that a rejection of Obama’s plan would embolden Iran to continue its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies have been seeking to stop.
Obama and National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with the senators, according to a senior administration official. The official said Obama told McCain and Graham that failure of the U.S. to intervene in the Syria civil war will weaken deterrence against chemical weapons use, endanger U.S. allies in the Middle East and embolden Assad, Hezbollah and Iran.
Meanwhile, Obama will try to convince other lawmakers to support his Syria intervention plan by sending Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday and a public hearing with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Obama will also present his case before the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Armed Services Committee in a meeting at the White House before he departs for Sweden.