Corker rips Obama on Syria speech

The President laid out the case for force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in stark terms, arguing that America's “ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria.”

“What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?” Obama asked during Tuesday night's speech. 

But to Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama did not go nearly far enough to establish the direct national security threat Assad's use of chemical weapons poses to the United States. 

"Our nation's credibility is on the line and [Syria] affects us regionally, relative to Iran and other things," according to Corker, who backs U.S. military action in Syria. 

"I got the strong impression he was going to take ownership of this issue," the Tennessee Republican said of his expectations for Obama's speech. 

Failing to do so has done irreparable harm to the President's credibility in the international community, but also among possible political allies on Capitol Hill. 

"This administration makes it so hard to help them" on Syria and other national security issues, Corker said citing the President's performance on Tuesday night. 

"The President has so much difficulty being our nation's commander in chief," he said. 

That said, "I hope we get lucky and end up with some diplomatic solution" to the Syrian crisis, according to Corker. 

"I will drop what I am doing and work with this administration on any serious issue . . . but I could not be more disappointed" in the White House's attempt to make the case for action in Syria. 

Corker was one of three Republicans and seven Democrats on the Senate foreign relations panel to approve military strikes in Syria. The resolution authorizing military action in the country cleared the Senate panel last Wednesday  by a vote of 10 to 7. 

The planned military strikes against Assad's forces were in retaliation for the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against anti-government rebels in the country. 

But Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAfter Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp GOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE pulled the plug on a full Senate vote on the resolution after an eleventh-hour proposal by Russia to push Syria to abandon its chemical weapon stockpiles. 

Moscow floated the proposal Monday, which would have Assad hand over the weapon stockpiles to international control, led by the United Nations. 

The plan was a significant break by Moscow from the country's long-standing support for the Assad regime throughout the more than two-year civil war in the country. 

The Russian plan has effectively put any possible Senate vote on military action on ice, while White House officials gauge the validity of Moscow's proposal, Corker said. 

"I'd be very surprised if over the next couple of weeks" a vote is held on U.S. military force in Syria. "I think this is on pause for awhile." 

But the Tennessee Republican has "below zero faith" Russia can convince Assad to give up the weapons and submit to international control. 

"I have almost no faith in the Russian government to do anything" to advance the disarmament  Corker said. "It is almost like below zero faith." 

The Russian plan, he added, was likely a stalling tactic to give the Assad regime breathing room in the face of American military intervention. 

"I think the Syrians and Russians . . . they know the momentum has been stalled off for a period of time," according to Corker. 

Recent reports state that Assad's forces have launched new attacks against rebel positions around Damascus, which were the same areas targeted by the alleged chemical attacks. 

"Whether they are serious or not serious, you can see why they kind maneuvered" toward a disarmament deal, he said. 

But "when there is an opportunity like this, you [have to] pursue it," he added.