Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said on Thursday that she regrets President Barack Obama going to Congress to ask for authority to strike Syria after drawing a "red line."
Obama had said chemical weapons use in Syria by Bashar al-Assad's regime would be the "red line" that would prompt a U.S. military response. Following a chemical weapons attack, however, Obama did not take military action, and Power told an audience at Harvard that the administration misjudged the situation.
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"In retrospect, I wish we hadn't gone to Congress with the—in the red line moment, when we had already committed to using force," Power said. "You know, I think, that was actually really a pivotal moment where we knew, prior to that point, that many of Obama's critics were not at the level, you know, things they were for on a Monday if Obama was for them on a Tuesday they were then against them on a Wednesday."
Power then blamed those who were frequent critics and opponents of Obama for his lack of action in Syria.
We knew that and yet that decision to go to Congress was made—and a lot of people don't believe this, but in good faith, in believing that, given the number of people who in response to this monstrous attack on 1,500 people including several hundred kids, so many people come out kind of calling for the president to act, criticizing him for being feckless, and then the president turned around and said, "Okay, here, this is what I want to do. Now we can do this together," and they basically kind of ran for the exits.
"I think that was a misjudgment," she added.
Power went on to say it weakened Obama by showing he did not have the power to obtain congressional support.
"Saying you are going to use force and then pulling back from that was weakening in part because it exposed that the president of the United States actually could not get congressional support for the use of force when he wanted it," she said.