LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Chastising President Obama for "timid, reluctant leadership," Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would not support President Obama's proposal for strikes against Syria. He is the first congressional leader to oppose the president's plan.
In opposing the president's proposal, McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, speaking in the Senate chambers, said his decision was "not easy." He cited the "red line" that the president drew regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons: "We've been told that the purpose of these strikes is to degrade the Assad regime's ability to use chemical weapons."
But McConnell said he came to the conclusion that, "These attacks, monstrous as they are, are not attacks against the United States or one of its treaty allies."
He went on to say, however, that if the U.S. or any of its treaty allies were attacked, he would call for action himself, and would stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" with President Obama.
Although McConnell said, "We can't afford as a country to withdraw from the world stage," he wondered why the administration did not respond during earlier reported chemical attacks by Assad. He also cited concerns that Assad might lose all restraint if attacked, and all motivation to come to the negotiating table.
He called the way the president put forward the Syria proposal "ham-handed," and he called the president a "reluctant commander-in-chief."
McConnell said he knew the president's supporters were concerned about maintaining the president's credibility in pushing for the proposal. McConnell, however, said he had concluded that ensuring the president's credibility meant having a credible response to the Syrian issue, and that the president's proposal was not credible. "A limited strike would not resolve the civil war there," he said.
McConnell said the proposal contained, "too many unanswered questions."
Even as McConnell spoke, the Syria situation was changing. Sources told the Associated Press late Tuesday morning that President Obama had agreed to a discussion in the United Nations about Russia's proposal for Syria's chemical weapons.
The Russian plan would have Syria place its chemical weapons under international control to be destroyed.
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