Sessions: Assad would have feared Bush
September 6th, 2013
02:49 PM ET
11 months ago

Sessions: Assad would have feared Bush

(CNN) – Sen. Jeff Sessions – a Republican who has yet to say whether he'll approve President Barack Obama's plan for military strikes in Syria – said at a town hall Friday that the situation in the conflict-torn nation would be far different if George W. Bush was still in the White House.

Speaking to tea party activists outside Montgomery, Sessions said Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would have heeded calls from the former Republican commander-in-chief to not use chemical weapons on his people.

"If President Bush had told Bashar Assad, 'You don't use chemical weapons or you are going to be sorry. We are coming after you, this will be a consequence you will not want to bear,' I don't believe he would have used them," Sessions said, adding that he didn't "mean to be partisan about it."

Obama and administration officials say samples from Syria prove Assad used chemical weapons on August 21, killing more than 1,400 people. He's been pressing lawmakers to support his plan for missile strikes to punish Assad's regime for the attack, though members of both parties have expressed deep skepticism at the plan.

Sessions said on Friday, however, that the administration was exaggerating the potential consequences of not taking action against Assad.

"(Secretary of State John Kerry) overstated a number of things," he said. "First he says we have got to respond basically any time anybody violates some treaty and we have got to go to war and use some military action. That is not so. He basically said you have got to support us or the country will be damaged and I don't agree with that."

Sessions did not say for sure what his vote would be on authorizing the use of force in Syria.

McCain gets an earful from voters on Syria

Tea party members attending the event appeared torn on American intervention in Syria, though most were wary about getting involved in another conflict overseas. One woman, who said she was a nurse who'd been trained in responding to chemical incidents, said she was doubtful that missile strikes alone could be an effective enough way to prevent another sarin attack.

"We put missiles in there, it's not going to do anything. Boots are going to be on the ground," she said.


Filed under: Jeff Sessions • Syria
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Remember how the repubs would practically wet their pants if anyone criticized Bush when he was president? How they called anyone who disagreed with them unpatriotic and aiding the enemy? Specifically, how the Dixie Chicks got death threats because they dared to criticize Bush?

    The hypocrisy of the right is astounding – not to mention their unending efforts to harm President Obama and our country, regardless of the consequences.

    September 6, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    Why does any foreign enemy need to spend the time or treasure trying to harm our country when you have the likes of Sessions in Congress?

    September 6, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Deb in MT

    Well, Lord knows the whole wide world certainly 'listened' to li'l Bush when he rushed us into war aginst Iraq and took his eyes off bin Laden (about whom Bush said he could care less).

    Oh yeah–"Mission Accomplished!" The world heard that one, too.

    September 6, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    And by "Congress," I mean the House and the Senate.

    September 6, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "I could just as easily say you are supporting Al Queada and jihadi terrorists if you oppose Assad because they are the majority of the fighters in Syria"

    No they are not. That is a gross overstatement and hyperbole and you're making it solely because it is convenient to your argument.

    September 6, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. The REAL Truth...

    @just saying – and heaven forbid the middle east not be all in flames like it is now thanks to the feckless obama and his lead from behind, america is the problem approach. ooops sorry, now he wants us to be a bully and do exactly what he spent years criticizing bush for. obama is a royal pos and should be kneeling before george bush begging for his forgiveness for all the lies he has spewed.
    ---------------------
    The ongoing right wing loon element of cognitive mediocrity is strong in that post.. given that Bush wouldn't have thought twice about going to war in Syria over the red line.. not needed for Iraq or Afghanistan, and wouldn't have even asked Congress. The same Bush that was a draft dodging pos goober who trashed the economy of this great nation in 8 short years, and y'all fall for all that AM talk radio idiocracy propaganda blah, blah.

    The POTUS was very smart going to congress for approval. That way, it's the GOP's "fault" no matter the outcome, and you crybabies can get back to wiping up the spilt milk.

    September 6, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. smith

    Im not a big fan of Sessions but he is right about Bush. Bush and Blair were a couple of badass dudes and the terrorist knew it.

    September 6, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    @Dominican mama 4 Obama: "Bush was an idiot and his unchecked idiocy did scare the hell out of me however.
    Stupid Gone Wild."

    Actually, Cheney was in charge all those years, with a lot of help from Karl Rove. Bush was just the puppet, whose alcoholism and daddy issues strings were easily pulled.

    September 6, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    @stars: "So he think Bush was billy bad ass. So why is Bush scared to leave the country."

    Actually, Bush isn't sober enough to leave the country. That "gracious in retirement" excuse has worn pretty thin...

    September 6, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Tom Paine

    I believe this is the strongest language I have ever heard from you. I gave up arguing with certain people a while back. That isn't to say I don't wish I could speak as eloquently as you do when the need arises because I do so wish.

    Thank you for a well written comment (that mirrors my own thoughts sans my ability to get those thoughts on paper - or in this instance - on keyboard).

    September 6, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Data Driven

    @truth hurts,

    But by your Manichean worldview, you ARE supporting Assad ... at least as a preference to al-Qai'da. You are saying the rebels are ALL jihadists working for al-Qai'da. That's more than I know and more than our intelligence services will admit. Also, some conservatives disagree with your assessment: John McCain, for instance, thinks the rebels are our friends.

    Finally, I'm not advocating "attacking" Assad, at least not militarily, and certainly not unilaterally. I'm advocating refugee assistance, pressure on Russia, and further isolation of the regime, working with the UN as a equal, not leading, partner.

    September 6, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. Wake up People!

    This guy looks like he just took off his hood and sent his sheet to the cleaners......

    September 6, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. jinx9to88

    So I feared Bush for what he did to this country!! So whats your point?

    September 6, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    -just saying

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes
    Just goes to show that the Bush Administration's policy was shoot first and ask questions later. The days of cowboy diplomacy are over.
    -–

    yeah, getting un approval, congressional approval, including many democrats like hillary clinton and then getting around 50 other countries to help. ypu that was one real lonesome cowboy acting all alone. as opposed to obama, no un approval, no congressional approval with even many democrats opposed and zero allies lining up to help. obama is a world wide joke at this point! george bush has made him look like the bumbling community organizer he is.
    **************
    Aside from Britain and a few others, how many committed combat troops? He used cooked intelligence that was cherry-picked to convice lawmakers, a decision virtually all of them now regret, and that regret is showing. Better a community organizer than a thrice failed businessman who benefitted from his father's name and his father's contacts to pull off one of the most costly lies in modern history, a lie that is still costing lives: last week, 5 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division were killed in an ambush in Afganistan, one of whom was a friend of my niece. Like I said earlier, STFU about things you don't understand.

    September 6, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Larry in Houston

    no – no – no – Bush was just a "puppet" for Cheney & Rumsfeld, period. Assad would have Feared Eisenhower, believe me. They have ALL been Marshmallows , (not Just Congress)

    September 6, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. smith

    The Real Tom- Who fed you that load of crap? The border was never secured from the Syrian side and it was the kurds who tried to secure Iraq`s border in the north. That border was the gateway for all AQ fighters.

    September 6, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    I would like to point out to the good Senator that Pres. Bush would've made pre-emptive strikes before Assad crossed the red line.

    September 6, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. just saying

    The Real Tom Paine
    You are proud of the fact that Bush negotiated a deal with Quadaffi,
    -–

    he cut zero deals with gaddafi but of course you know that but lie to deceive people. gaddafi willingly and eagerly surrendered all his wmd. i guess bush should have told him to keep them? you lefties refuse to acknowledge any of the good that came out of the iraq war. gaddafi surrendering his wmd was one big plus especially now that obama has handed the country over to al queada.

    conveniently blotting out the parts about where we made deals with devils that Bush left the Mideast in flames.
    ---

    what middle east countries were in flames when bush left office? libya? no, cooperating with us on al queada intelligence. egypt?? no, they were an ally not controlled by the muslim brotherhood. syria? no, no uprising happening when bush left office. please enough with your obvious lies. obama has done everything in his power to destabilze the middle east and he has succeeded so well that the entire region is posed to meltdown. now he looks for approval to throw our missiles into the mess and really get it flaming to the max.

    September 6, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Gunderson

    YAWN,
    Hypocrisy of Right? That same one's that think you able take care of self? Now old Gunderson know you no know how take care of self. Prove every day post here. Keep study Tea Leaves. Maybe you get it. If not, call your Nanny.

    September 6, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. kgala

    I agree with the Senator.

    If you can wipe out a nation for NOT HAVING the WMD, can you imagine what havoc would be rained on a nation for HAVING the WMD!

    September 6, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. kylefromohio

    "If President Bush had told Bashar Assad, 'You don't use chemical weapons or you are going to be sorry. We are coming after you, this will be a consequence you will not want to bear,' I don't believe he would have used them,"

    Sessions said, adding that he didn't "mean to be partisan about it."

    Yeah as he continues and some of my best friends are !!#@#!!

    September 6, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. Em

    The " Chicken hawks " have a common deficiency. The can not perform their bed room chores satisfactorily..... so they have to have a outward macho image. That can be cured by Viagra. Johnny only drools, can't dig.

    September 6, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. truth hurts but reality bites

    Data Driven
    But by your Manichean worldview, you ARE supporting Assad ... at least as a preference to al-Qai'da.
    -–
    Oh come on, don't be ridiculous... no more than you are supporting Al Queada as a preference to Assad. Please be honest. There are NO good actors in this fiasco. At least no good actors that we can readily identify and can reasonably expect to prevail in the outcome.

    --
    You are saying the rebels are ALL jihadists working for al-Qai'da. That's more than I know and more than our intelligence services will admit. Also, some conservatives disagree with your assessment: John McCain, for instance, thinks the rebels are our friends.
    ---
    Yeah, yeah, the middle east is just overflowing with people just like us. Sorry, I don't buy it. Even when we have given them a royal opportunity at a democracy, the culture just doesn't seem to want or allow it. I'm being realistic and accepting reality.

    --
    Finally, I'm not advocating "attacking" Assad, at least not militarily, and certainly not unilaterally. I'm advocating refugee assistance, pressure on Russia, and further isolation of the regime, working with the UN as a equal, not leading, partner.
    --

    I would agree with all of this. Obama needs to continue to make this a global obligation and make sure Russia and China are painted as a bad actor just like Assad is. Enablers must be held to account as well. It should not be business as usual but it will probably be so. Let's face it, a few thousand Syrians dying is no big deal to the leaders of these large countries. Collateral damage they can live with.

    September 6, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. REALITY

    II don't think this has much to do about fearing Bush. It is more like many world leaders have a disdain for Obama, especially after this episode.

    September 6, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. Tony

    Having the ability to generate fear does not mean you are a great leader. The people who were gassed by Assad probably feared Assad. Hitler and Stalin generated fear too. So what's your point?

    September 6, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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