Exclusive -- Rep. Yoho: Obama's Credibility, Not America's, at Risk in Syria
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday morning that it is President Barack Obama’s credibility that is at risk with regard the situation in Syria, not the credibility of America.
Yoho said America’s credibility does not lie solely with the president’s statements and actions. “You have the military’s credibility, and then you have the U.S. government’s credibility,” Yoho said. “I don’t think anybody in the world disputes our credibility of our military. When you go back to the Persian Gulf War, where for CNN it was the first time they broadcasted a war live, and Bernard Shaw was giving you play-by-play bombing descriptions and then you had the Iraq war, the shock and awe that we watched on TV. We hunted down Saddam Hussein, and then we hunted down Osama bin Laden. So I don’t think our credibility of our military is in question at all.”
Really, Yoho said, it is the credibility of the president that is in question. “It’s going back to the red line,” he said. “Not saying, first off, what was said shouldn’t have been said. You don’t make veiled threats, I’ve learned in life. I don’t make threats, I make promises. And you stand by your promises. Your word is your bond. Unfortunately, I think the president spoke out of turn here. Again, I think there’s a better [way] to handle this and it should be through diplomacy. I would wait until the U.N. report came out to verify 100 percent that it was Sarin gas because there is still controversy over that and there is still controversy over who launched it.”
Yoho points to the president’s comments on the world stage on Wednesday in Sweden where he says he did not draw a “red line” in Syria. "First of all, I didn't set a red line," Obama said on Wednesday. "The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what's happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn't something I just kind of made up. I didn't pluck it out of thin air. There's a reason for it."
That is a direct contradiction to what Obama said back over a year ago, in which he refers to a “red line” he was drawing in Syria. A backgrounder on the White House website includes several references to how President Obama did indeed “set a red line.”
Yoho said that President Obama’s foreign policies are in jeopardy because of his credibility issues on the world stage. “I think the lack of credibility you’re seeing in the U.S. foreign policy reflects right back to the unsuredness of the president’s word and the message coming out of our administration,” Yoho said. “He drew a red line. We all know he drew a red line. And now he’s saying he didn’t draw a red line.”
Yoho points to Egypt and to Benghazi as examples of where Obama’s foreign policy credibility is lacking.
“The military coup in Egypt, which I firmly believe it is--if you look at the definition of a coup, it’s relinquishing of your power without your approval by a military and then to be put under house arrest--and yet our president doesn’t call it a coup because of the ramifications of having cut off military aid?” Yoho said. “His message has been inconsistent. It usually comes out after the fact, what he meant to say. This hurts our credibility. This even goes back to Benghazi. When Ms. Clinton said what difference does it make, the difference is this: If we lie to the American people, about the cause of a terrorist act saying it was a video, when we know the facts and I think you’ll see in our hearings, how can you expect another country or ally to take you at your word?”
When asked if the only people in the country who really want to go to war with Syria are those in the political class in Washington, D.C., Yoho said “I think you’re probably about 100 percent right on that.”
“If we look at the phone calls and the letters we get and the personal contact, I’m going to say 90 to 95 percent are saying ‘stay out of Syria,’” he said. “I represent my constituents in North Central Florida, and I’m not going to support this.”
While he thinks that the Obama administration has taken its foreign policy too far into the realm of failure, Yoho thinks the problem has its roots in Washington as far back as a few decades ago. That said, though, Yoho thinks this is an opportunity for America to lead again.
“Our foreign policy has really been lost in this administration, but I’ll say this: our foreign policy in the Middle East over the last 30 to 35 years has really been off track,” Yoho said. “This is a perfect opportunity for us to lead and get people to the negotiation table. Of all the countries that signed the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] accord, there’s 189 of us, we need to have 189 at the table including all the Arab League countries and the U.N. on one side of the table, and Mr. Assad on the other side and we need to have a diplomatic solution to this. The thing I was encouraged with today was Russia’s president [Vladimir] Putin said that he would look at the evidence and if it was conclusive he would stand with us. I think that’s monumental because if he can do that, China can do it. And Iran also signed the CWC. With China and Russia putting pressure on them, it is possible that they could come to the table and tell Mr. Assad to stop. That would be diplomacy at its finest and I think it would reset our foreign policy and our way to handle it.”
Yoho said this situation reminds him somewhat of Iraq, where Colin Powell had sold everyone on how Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) were definitely there. “We don’t want to make that mistake again,” he said. “If you go back to the CWC accords, it says any country that produces, stockpiles, transfers or sells or uses chemical weapons are in violation of that treaty. So does that mean now that if we know North Korea has it, we go in there? Or what about Iran that is supposedly developing a nuclear weapon? Where do you draw the line? Do you act in totality? Or do you just say we’re just going to go after Syria? I think it’s a very dangerous precedent to start because this could be a prelude to start saying ‘Well, North Korea has this and Iran has this, so we should attack them too.’ I know the American people won’t stand for that and I won’t stand for it and I think there’s a better way we can do this.”
Congress could step up and lead America out of this situation, Yoho added, but currently congressional leadership of both parties are jumping in to help the president. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, as well Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have all thrown their weight behind Obama. “Our country is starved for leadership and selling what’s best for America,” Yoho said. “If things are best for America, I think the world benefits from that. There’s no doubt in my mind. I know Americans will grow a stronger and bigger America. We’ll be more competitive. The middle class will grow. That’s the stuff we need to focus on, not focusing on another war. That is just absolutely crazy. Keep in mind, we’re broke. We don’t have the money to do this. If China gets involved because they said they don’t want us involved, and we’re running out of money, well, who are we going to borrow money from? China? I mean, we need to stay home and take care of our own. Let’s work through this diplomatically, which I don’t feel like we’ve done a strong enough job in that yet.”
Instead of getting involved in another country’s civil war where there has been no clear and present threat to America’s national security or the security of America’s allies presented thus far, Yoho thinks the U.S. government should focus more on solving domestic problems and taking care of Americans first. “I’ve only been here a little over seven or eight months,” he said. “What I saw was a broken system. I saw crisis management. They go from one frying pan into the next, instead of long-term planning. We’ve now taken the focus off immigration, we’ve taken the focus off our debt ceiling, we’ve taken the focus off Social Security and Medicare, and we have the Obama healthcare bill coming out that needs to be repealed 100 percent. That’s going to be a disaster. We’re at $17 trillion in debt and that bill will increase our spending $2 trillion to start with and that’s just the beginning. Social Security is going broke and Medicare is going broke and we’re talking about going to another war? I mean this is ludicrous.”