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."
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"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."
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