Jesse J. Holland, AP, m.arkansasonline.com
Image from article, with caption: Then-President Barack Obama meets with leaders of Congress in September 2013 to push for approval for an attack on Syria.
WASHINGTON -- Former Obama administration officials pushed back against criticism of the former president, saying they proposed similar airstrikes in Syria to the ones President Donald Trump ordered last week but were stymied by a Republican-controlled Congress reluctant to go along with the Democratic president's plan.
The push-back comes after Trump ordered the missile strikes against Syria without getting congressional approval, determined to punish the Syrian government for the use of chemical weapons against civilians. ...
Obama had threatened Assad with military action after an earlier chemical weapons attack killed hundreds outside Damascus. Obama had declared the use of such weapons a "red line." At the time, several American ships in the Mediterranean were poised to launch missiles, only for Obama to abruptly pull back after key U.S. ally Britain and the U.S. Congress balked at his plan.
He opted instead for a Russian-backed plan that was supposed to lead to the removal and elimination of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.
"We had been reckoning with this for five years, and there aren't easy answers. And just to simply say, you know, 'the president put up a red line and then didn't act' is really insufficient in terms of making policy," Richard Stengel, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. ...