Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on Sunday said the White House should not take a “victory lap” in the wake of a U.S.-Russian deal that would force Syria to turn over its stockpile of chemical weapons to the international community.
“I don’t think this is a time for the White House to be boastful,” McCaul said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I would exercise humility here … I quite frankly think what won the day here is that Putin looked in his own backyard … he decided to step in and fix the problem.”
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, announced a pact Saturday that calls on the Syrian government to turn over its chemical weapons to international control. The leaders said the initial agreement would have the backing of a United Nations resolution.
And Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Obama deserves the credit for the rare diplomatic victory in the two-year Syrian civil war.
“We would not be at this point had it not been for the president’s credible threat of the use of force,” Van Hollen said on the Fox program. “That’s what brought the Russians to the table. That’s what brought Assad to the table.”
However, GOP critics over the weekend said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had actually outplayed Obama.
“What concerns us most is that our friends and enemies will take the same lessons from this agreement — they see it as an act of provocative weakness on America’s part,” Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said in a statement Saturday. “We cannot imagine a worse signal to send to Iran as it continues its push for a nuclear weapon.”
Van Hollen hit back at that criticism on Sunday.
“That’s absurd,” the Maryland congressman said. “Putin was acting from a position of weakness.”
Under the U.S.-Russian agreement, the first international inspection of Syria’s chemical weapons is scheduled for November and destruction of the arsenal is set for next year.