- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul said Friday that President Obama appears to be interested in “saving face” when it comes to his pending decision on whether to approve U.S.-led military strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Mr. Paul, a likely contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, said that Mr. Obama, a Democrat, painted himself into a corner by declaring in 2012 that the use of chemical weapons represented a “red line” for the United States.

“It sounds to me like saving face because he has made a promise, so he is going to follow through with his promise,” the Kentucky Republican said on “Fox and Friends.” “That’s why you ought to be very careful about drawing lines in the sand, or red lines, because now he feels that he looks weak to both his colleagues in the United States as well as his international colleagues. I don’t think that is enough reason to go to war.”

Mr. Obama said at a 2012 press conference that “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

“That would change my calculus. That would change my equation,” Mr. Obama said at the time.

Mr. Obama said this week that his administration has concluded that the Assad regime was behind the chemical weapons attack last week that killed citizens in the suburbs of Damascus and he called for an international response.

The British House of Commons, though, put a major dent in the White House’s push when it voted Thursday against getting involved in U.S.-led strikes — further isolating the Obama administration.

British lawmakers raised concerns related to the faulty intelligence that the Bush administration and former Prime Minister Tony Blair used to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Mr. Paul also said Friday the Constitution requires that Mr. Obama get congressional approval for military action.

“Both the president and the vice president, once upon a time, before they came into power, understood this,” Mr. Paul said. “As a senator, Barack Obama said that no president should unilaterally go to war without the authority of Congress. I still believe that.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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