McCaskill pushes back against White House critics on Syria

Senate Armed Services Committee member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Sunday pushed back against former top administration officials who have harshly criticized the White House's handling of Syria.


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"I think it's very easy to always Monday morning quarterback in a very difficult mess like this is," McCaskill said Sunday.

"There are no good solutions to this problem. There was no good answer," she added during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

Her comments come days after former Pentagon chiefs Leon Panetta and Robert Gates hammered President Obama's decisions on the U.S. response to the ongoing Syrian crisis.

During a national security forum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Gates said U.S. presidents -- including Obama -- have been too quick to “reach for the gun to solve an international problem,” according to news reports.

"I believe to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple of days to underscore or validate a point or principle is not a strategy," Gates said Tuesday.

Panetta said Obama should have avoided requesting congressional approval for a military strike in Syria.

"Mr. President, this Congress has a hard time agreeing as to what the time of day is," Panetta said during the same event.

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U.S. forces were poised to begin targeted strikes against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in retaliation for alleged chemical weapon attacks against rebels in the country.

Obama had said the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a so-called "red line" which would trigger an armed American response.

But Assad's initial steps to disarm his chemical stockpiles, with the support of Russia, are proof that Obama's Syria strategy is a success, according to McCaskill.

"He's got [Russian President Vladimir] Putin doing the right thing and he's got [Syrian President Bashar] Assad recognizing and admitting that he has chemical weapons and then moving in the right direction to get rid of them," she said.

"That's what this is about," the Missouri Democrat added.

While Russia is a key architect in the Syria disarmament plan, Moscow continues to side with Assad's claims the chemical attacks were launched by rebel forces.

Putin has also publicly denounced any threats of military action by Washington to force Assad to comply with the disarmament deal.

Russia has also indicated it may block any U.S.-led effort to keep American military action on the table, as part of the disarmament deal, during this week's U.N. Security Council meeting.