CNN’s State of the Union host Candy Crowley asked Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) if the U.S. really cared whether Russia had the diplomatic edge in the deal over Syrian chemical weapons, which provides a framework for the destruction or removal of them over the next year.
Rogers explained the deal was a “Russian plan for Russian interests” before Crowley cut over him with her question Sunday. Rogers replied that it was serious because the U.S. had given away the credibility of its military force by allowing Russia to take the lead in the region.
“The Syria plan has been confusing at best over the last two years,” he said. “Last week it was more confusing to the American people and more confusing to members of Congress about our national security interests. The president couldn’t quite close that deal, so that indecisiveness gave the diplomatic advantage to the Russians. They saw it, they stepped in. This is a Russian plan for Russian interests.”
Crowley interrupted there.
“Who cares? If it has a chance to get rid of chemical weapons, do we really care that Russia got the diplomatic edge?” she asked.
“If it were just that, that’s true,” Rogers said. ‘But if the president believes, like I do, that a credible military force helps you get a diplomatic solution, they gave that away in this deal. I’m really concerned about that.”
Under the deal, NBC reports, Syria must provide a full catalog of its chemical arsenal within a week and allow United Nations inspectors to start working no later than November, but Rogers knocked the deal for having a “lot of shoulds” and not hard dates.
“If you believe there’s broader national security interests in Syria, I know the president does, I clearly believe that, we have al-Qaeda pooling in the west, we have Hezbollah operating there,” he said. “By the way the Russians have been here the whole time and are complicit, in my mind, in allowing chemical weapons to be used … Remember, it’s a framework. There’s a lot of ‘shoulds,’ not a lot of hard dates. 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.”