Coons: White House not in a 'rush to war' with Syria

Obama met with Senators from both sides of the aisle on Tuesday, to sell the administration's case for possible military action in Syria. 

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The President is scheduled to address the nation on U.S. options in Syria on Tuesday night. 

The White House is threatening to begin targeted strikes against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. 

The strikes are in retaliation to the Assad regime's alleged use of large-scale chemical weapons attacks against rebel forces in the country's ongoing civil war.

However, Capitol Hill is pushing back on the White House's request, arguing action in Syria would lead U.S. forces back into a large-scale war in the Mideast. 

Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Obama made clear during Tuesday's meeting the White House is "very concerned about presidential overreach and learning the lessons of Iraq" as the administration looks to end the standoff with Syria. 

Should Congress grant the White House authority to take military action, Coons is confident Obama "would hold [off] . . . as long as there was any credible progress toward a diplomatic resolution," he said after a lunch meeting between the President and Senate Democrats. 

That said "it is easier to trust [Obama] with that authorization," given the president's track record "of being cautious about the exercise of [military] force," Coons added. 

Last Wednesday, Coons was one of seven Democrats and three Republicans on the Senate foreign relations panel to approve military action in Syria. 

The Delaware Democrat has said he is "inclined" to support action in Syria, but is not committed to the use of military force.

The full Senate postponed a vote on the committee's resolution authorizing action in Syria after Moscow unveiled a Syrian disarmament plan that would end the U.S. stand off in the country. 

The Russian-backed plan to force Syria to hand over its chemical weapons stockpiles to international control, led by the United Nations, could be the diplomatic solution administration officials have been seeking. 

The plan, which is under review by the White House, is a significant break from Russia's long-standing support for the Syrian regime since the beginning of the  civil war there. 

The Obama administration should be able to determine fairly quickly whether the Russia plan has a chance of succeeding. 

"That will not take very long, but I do think it is important to take a breather here. . . for us to assess whether or not" Russia can deliver on its proposal, Coons said. 

"Russia can very quickly here signal to the United States and the West whether they are willing to be a good faith partner or not," he added. 

On Monday, Obama said it would be "possible" for Syria to avert a military strike if it agrees to turn over its chemical weapons. 

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee the Pentagon is "hopeful that this option could be a real solution to this crisis."