Politico – by MIKE ALLEN and JENNIFER EPSTEIN
Retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, former CIA director under President Barack Obama, called strongly Saturday for Congress to back the White House on Syria, declaring that military action against the regime is “necessary” to deter “Iran, North Korea and other would-be aggressors.”
“Failure of Congress to approve the president’s request would have serious ramifications not just in the Mideast but around the world,” Petraeus said in a four-sentence statement provided to POLITICO.
With Congress set to return from summer break on Monday, Obama’s request is in trouble in the Senate and on a path to an embarrassing loss in the House. He will sit for interviews Monday with six TV networks as he makes his case for military intervention in Syria ahead of an address to the nation on Tuesday.
In his years as U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus was regarded by many Republican lawmakers as a god on military matters.
So the imprimatur of the former four-star general could help Obama woo skeptical Republicans, many of whom say their districts are overwhelmingly opposed to intervention. The Petraeus statement follows endorsements of Obama’s measure this week by Hillary Clinton, his first secretary of State; and Robert M. Gates, his first secretary of defense and a holdover from President George W. Bush.
The full text of Petraeus’ statement: “I strongly support congressional approval of President Obama’s request for authority to undertake military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad. Such action is necessary in order to deter future use of chemical weapons in Syria and to degrade the regime’s overall military capabilities.
“Failure of Congress to approve the president’s request would have serious ramifications not just in the Mideast but around the world. Military action against the Syrian regime is, thus, necessary not just to deter future use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere, but also to ensure that Iran, North Korea and other would-be aggressors never underestimate the United States’ resolve to take necessary military action when other tools prove insufficient.”
As part of a multi-pronged push to sell his plan to Congress and the public, Obama will tape interviews Monday afternoon with anchors from ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as with PBS, CNN and Fox News, the White House said. The interviews will air Monday evening.
The interviews will be conducted by ABC’s Diane Sawyer, CBS’s Scott Pelley, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Fox’s Chris Wallace, NBC’s Brian Williams and PBS’s Gwen Ifill.
On Wednesday, Petraeus will give his first paid speech since resigning as CIA director in November. It’ll be at Duke University and is titled, “America and the World: A Conversation with Gen. David Petraeus.” Petraeus is working with six veterans’ support groups, and is chairman of the newly created KKR Global Institute for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. He also is teaching this fall at the University of Southern Californiam, and beginning Monday at the City University of New York.