September 15th, 2013
11:20 AM ET
11 months ago

Rogers on Syria: 'This was a bipartisan failing'

Washington (CNN) – Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, argued Sunday that the United States lost all of its leverage in the negotiations over chemical weapons in Syria, giving Russia a win.

If Congress had moved more quickly and given the president authorization to strike Syria, things would look more favorable for the U.S., he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I think (the president's) hand would have been strengthened significantly if Congress would have given him the authority for a surgical strike to degrade (Syria's) chemical weapons use and he look like a commander in chief," Rogers said, though he faulted the president for failing to adequately explain why an attack against Syria would be in the United States' security interests.

"All of that confusion allowed Putin to step in and fill the void. I think that's a problem," he said. "This was a bipartisan failing."

On Saturday, the U.S. and Russia reached a deal on a framework that would allow Syria to hand over control of its chemical weapons. The deal, however, does not include a threat of military force should Syria fail to follow through with giving up its stockpiles.

That's a big mistake, Rogers told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

"Not one ounce of chemical weapons came off the battlefield, but we've given up every ounce of our leverage when it comes to trying to solve the broader Syrian problem, because we've taken away a credible military threat," he said.

Rogers warned the "indecisiveness" of the Obama administration in the past few weeks "gave the diplomatic advantage" to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"They saw it. They stepped in. This is a Russian plan for Russian interests. And we should be very, very concerned," he said.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California was less pessimistic about the diplomatic deal, calling it a "very positive step."

"If we step back six or nine months ago and say we would be in a position today where Syria would sign the chemical weapons treaty, where U.S. and Russia would be on the same page in disarming - under U.N. supervision - Syria of all its chemical weapons without a single shot being fired, we would have said this is a phenomenal breakthrough," Schiff said on "State of the Union."

Schiff acknowledged it's been an "ugly" process and it's going to be "tough" to ensure Syria follows through, but he said it's "the best pathway we've seen in the last couple years."

On Putin, Schiff downplayed the Russian president's strategic abilities, saying he's less like a master chess player and more like "a lawyer who lost control of his client."

"He should have told Assad some time ago, 'Look, you have the military edge on the battlefield now. Don't screw it up by doing something stupid.' And what happened here was that I think Russia lost control of the client," he said.

But Rogers disagreed.

"I do think Putin's playing chess and we're playing tic-tac-toe," he said. "Think about where he is and what he wanted out of Syria. He got everything he wanted, including taking away the president's advantage of a guaranteed or at least a credible military strike. … This was a big win for (Putin)."

For his part, President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday that he's not so concerned with criticism of his handling of the Syria situation, saying Washington tends to make judgments based on style, rather than substance.

"And so had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear - they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy," he said on ABC's "This Week." "We know that, 'cause that's exactly how they graded the Iraq War - until it ended up … blowing up in our face."

"I'm less concerned about style points," he added. "I'm much more concerned about getting the policy right."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Mike Rogers • Russia • Syria • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. rla

    This guy is clueless– NO INVOLVEMENT ina TRIBAL, Sectarian, proxy war!

    September 15, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Thomas

    I dont think Putin will receive a noble peace prize for supporting his client .

    Nobody is talking about the importance or non importance of the UN report.

    September 15, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Tony

    Bipartisan failing? Russia came to us to disarm its ally, Syria, and we did not even have to fire a shot.

    September 15, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    All republican war hawks' solutions involve our military on the ground in Syria, whether as peacemakers, trainers, or fighters.

    September 15, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. rs

    Incorrect, sir. These negotiations are more than 1 year old. This is a bilateral success in which the idiots in the GOP played no role. The GOP's responses were all over the map, proving they have no coherent policy.

    September 15, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. king

    i still dont understand why is Obama getting blamed for America looking week. he tried like hell to make our country look strong when he wanted to attack Syria, by including our congress to let Assad know that the country was strongly behind him, atlas the congress rebuffed this president for seeking their help when they were the ones writing letters for him to include them. so rogers was right when he said Putin took the opportunity when he saw a divided country. any two bit ruler would have done the same thing, and the repubs constant obstruction of this president made Putin job that more easier to divide and conquer although he didn't need the dividing part.

    September 15, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. demian

    This all sounds so juvenile..what, is everyone in the 5th grade?!

    ..."so the president could look like commander in chief.." etc etc. ?being interested only in political games and maneuvering, vis a vis, who is in control of the situation, not in what is right.

    People have learned absolutely nothing from history. US thinks power resides in military action, etc.

    Saw a great analogy the other night, Clak Kent does not retaliate against someone, even if being taunted, although he could throw them to the sun! Strength is in restraint..

    September 15, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Richard Long

    Just as delusional as the President... The majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, do not want involvement in Syria.

    September 15, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. GOP = Greed Over People

    "I'm less concerned about style points," he added. "I'm much more concerned about getting the policy right."

    Huh, a President that does not "shoot from the hip" or "go with his gut" but takes a analytical and rational approach to international conflct?

    Well, that explains why the superficial GOP, only interested in "style points", thinks President O is "leading from behind"!

    September 15, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. sbubba1

    Senator Rogers statement is on target. leaders need to act in the best interest of the their country, thus persevering the overall interest of the people, based on information before them .

    As for the perceived slap in the face . Maybe, better seen as a pesky child that is finally ready to situp straight and pay attention( Russia ).

    The intelligence and technology of the US alone make The US exceptional and credible

    September 15, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. sbubba1

    On target. leaders need to act in the best interest of the their country, thus persevering the overall interest of the people, based on information before them .

    As for the perceived slap in the face . Maybe, better seen as a pesky child that is finally ready to situp straight and pay attention( Russia ).

    The intelligence and technology of the US alone make The US exceptional and credible

    September 15, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    One of the many things that irks Repubs about President Obama is that he's an adult and won't join them in their silly, childish, nah-nah-nah-nah whiny, irresponsible, pointless, counterproductive games.

    President Obama actually DOES HIS JOB – and Repubs just can't handle it because it makes them all look bad.

    You know, Repubs, admitting you have a problem (all your economic, military and foreign policies are PROVEN FAILURES) is the first step in recovery ...

    September 15, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    @demian: "This all sounds so juvenile..what, is everyone in the 5th grade?!"

    As a parent of three sons, Repubs' actions remind me more of three-year-olds.

    September 15, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    President Obama is not weak – and anyone claiming so is being played by Assad and Putin. So what if Putin gets to puff up his puny chest and pretend he's important?

    We are avoiding war and the cost in treasure and lives associated with it. What's to complain about?

    September 15, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    Pop quiz; who said the following in regard to Putin and Syria:

    "If I were president, I’d get in a room with him and say, 'Look at the slaughter going on in Syria. You can stop it. Do it., and I'll see to it that you get all the credit. I'll tell the world it was you who saved the innocent ...

    "Everybody has an ego. Everybody needs dignity. And what does it cost? You get what you want, you give up nothing."

    *pause*

    Answer: Roger Ailes, a statement he made about a year ago (from his authorized biography, page 103).

    You remember, Rog, right? He's the president of Fox News – the folks who've been spinning the narrative that somehow Putin has made President Obama look weak.

    IOKIYAR ...

    September 15, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. xian

    in other news, some Republicans claim porridge too hot, others say it is too cold.

    September 15, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. labman57

    Is Rogers suggesting that the U.S. should recreate the Iraqi fiasco of the last decade by invading Syria with full military assault, with the ultimate goal being the deposing of Assad and dismantling his government?

    Because anything short of that will still leave Assad in control and Russia still in a position to profit from his dependence on their armaments.

    September 15, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Rogers is only one of a very few GOP that should get any respect from the American people. It's pretty obvious the GOP is all over the map on this issue and it appears that Obama is calling the shots correctly and from everything I've read on the subject , the use of force is still on the table and is going to stay there. Would you want to be on the other end of a cruise missile strike , Obama doesn't need congressional approval, ask Osama !!!!!!

    September 15, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    I firmly believe it is the entire countries praying about Syria brought about this bloodless decision (2nd Chronicles 7: 14;
    1st Kings 18: 37) and its great success to the US (Psalm 67) to be prevented from going to war.

    September 15, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |