August 27, 2013


U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday night that President Barack Obama failed to act on early signs of Syrian government chemical attacks against its own people, and that Oval Office indecisiveness has compromised the American military.

State Department officials are now calling undeniable the use of chemical agents by the Syrian government last week.

Meanwhile, in an interview with The Daily Times Herald at the Carrollton Centre, Grassley said a brewing possible military response from the United States and other nations likely won't involve ground forces.

"If there is military activity, it will not be boots on the ground, because with our obligations in Afghanistan and the downsizing of the military, I think it's impossible to do anything that way," Grassley said.

The New York Times reported this morning that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said United States forces were ready for any contingency, the British military drafted plans and the Arab League joined the powers that have accused the Syrian government of a mass killing of civilians last week with a chemical munitions attack.

Grassley said any military action will have to occur from "far-off platforms" and be aimed at military installations.

"But the real problem is the indecisiveness of the administration, when they drew a red line in the sand, that said if there was any use of chemical weapons," Grassley said.

He said evidence emerged of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government well before last week - and that President Obama didn't act.

"He kind of has lost some credibility," Grassley said.

Grassley said chemical weapons are more troubling than the use of traditional arms.

"From the standpoint of the people that are affected, it has a much broader application," he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry Monday called what he believed to be the Syrian government's use of chemical agents a "moral obscenity."

Grassley said he would need more military and intelligence information to completely analyze the unfolding Syrian situation. But based on what he knows, the Iowa Republican offered some advice to the president: "If you say you're going to do something, do it."

Grassley added, "It's taken the president four or five days, and I don't even know if he's decided to this minute what he's going to do."