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Kristol: ‘No’ Vote on Syria ‘Takes America Out of the Game’

• September 3, 2013 2:26 pm

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Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative Bill Kristol said a Congressional "no" vote on Syria would take America "out of the game in a dangerous way" Tuesday on MSNBC.

Kristol contended Bashar al-Assad's record as an Iran-backed dictator, defiance of calls to step down and continued use of chemical weapons constitutes a "clear American interest," necessitating a response from the United States.

When President Obama drew the red line and Congress did not object, Kristol noted, the House and Senate were complicit with the president's stance on Syria.

To reverse course and vote no would cripple the country and President Obama for the next three years, Kristol said:

RAND PAUL: I think the line in the sand should be that America gets involved when American interests are threatened. I don't see American interests involved on either side of the Syrian war. I see Assad who has protected Christians for a number of decades and then I see the Islamic rebels on the other side who have been attacking Christians. I see Al Qaeda one side, the side we would go in to support, and I see it to be murky and I don't see a clear cut American interest. I don't see either party that is victorious being an American ally.

ANDREA MITCHELL: What do you say to that argument?

BILL KRISTOL: I think there is a clear American interest in making a dictator an Iran-backed anti-American dictator who has used chemical weapons, and has presided over civil war that has killed over 100,000 people when we have said he had to go. When we have said he had to go, when we have drawn a red line and Congress did not object. Congress did not object on the president when he said Assad had to go. Congress did not object when the president drew the red line. They are somewhat complicit in this. He is our president. I voted against him twice, but he won reelection and he is speaking there as the president of the United States, not as leader of the Democratic Party. So Congress needs to think long and hard before just walking away from the president on this. It will cripple him for the next three years. We cannot afford that as a country. Again, you can vote for the resolution and still criticize the president's conduct of the strike, and his diplomacy and "he is not arming the rebels enough." It's not as if voting yes as a congressman or a senator takes away your ability to criticize him and help shape policy. I think voting no takes you out of the game and takes America out of the game in a dangerous way. You mentioned the Tea Party Andrea. Here's one thing to look for. Congressman Tom Cotton first term congressman from Arkansas running for the Senate and very likely to win that seat there I think. Congressman Mike Pompeo a second term congressman from Kansas, both extremely strong conservatives and both, Tom as a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and Mike as a West Point grad and served in the Army. I think they are working together on a statement or op ed that will support intervention in a serious way. I talked to them both and I think they are trying to work it through, and I think they think it's the right thing to do. I think you'll see among conservatives, after the initial "oh my God what has President Obama done, he's gone back and forth on this, he's doing this for political reasons." Understandable unhappiness with the president. I think you will see among conservatives, among at least a good chunk of them, a sense that you know what we have to put aside our doubts and our even dislike frankly of the president and his team and our worries about what his real motives are. All that stuff goes aside and you have to do what's right for the country and I think most Republicans will.