- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2013

Robert M. Gates, a Republican who served as secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is calling on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to back the Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against the Assad regime, Politico reported.

“I strongly urge the Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to approve the president’s request for authorization to use force in Syria,” Mr. Gates said in a statement, according to Politico. “Whatever one’s views on current U.S. policy toward Syria, failure by Congress to approve the request would, in my view, have profoundly negative and dangerous consequences for the United States not just in the Middle East but around the world both now and in the future.”

The support from Mr. Gates could give Mr. Obama a boost as he lobbies Congress to get behind a resolution for limited strikes against the Assad regime in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons last month.

House GOP leaders have thrown their support behind the effort, while acknowledging that passing a resolution through the chamber will be an uphill battle.

The Syria resolution, which narrowly passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, gives Mr. Obama 90 days to act and pushes him to take steps to help the rebels seeking to oust Mr. Assad.

Mr. Gates served as defense secretary from 2006 to 2011.