Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican and former vice presidential candidate, broke his silence Wednesday about a possible U.S. strike against Syria, calling President Barack Obama’s military threat an “ill-conceived, half-hearted proposal.”
"I believe the president's proposed military strike in Syria cannot achieve its stated objectives. In fact, I fear it will make things worse,” Ryan said in a statement. “The president says a show of force will preserve our credibility. But a feckless show of force will only damage our credibility.”
Ryan’s comments came a day after Obama asked members of Congress to delay a vote on a resolution that would authorize a strike. The delay, Obama said, would provide time to pursue a diplomatic solution in cooperation with the Russian government that would force Syria to turn over its arsenal of chemical weapons to international authorities. Obama also told lawmakers that the threat of a U.S. strike needed to remain on the table throughout the negotiating process.
On Tuesday night, Obama outlined his plan in an address to the nation from the White House. "This initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force,” Obama said.
In response, Ryan said he believed Obama’s change of course — the president called on Congress to pass a resolution only a few days ago — had “reinforced” what he called a “credibility gap.”
"After making the case for a firm, rapid response, President Obama has called for an indefinite delay,” Ryan said. “He lacks a clear strategy, and now he's following Russia's lead.”
As a vice presidential candidate last year, Ryan was critical of Obama’s inaction in Syria, which has been embroiled in civil war for more than two years. During a debate with Vice President Joe Biden in October 2012, Ryan said he agreed with the red line set by Obama that said the use of chemical weapons would provoke a U.S. response.
Before Tuesday, Ryan, who is considered a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, resisted taking a position before hearing more details about the president’s plan. To date, none of the potential future Republican contenders for the White House has declared public support for Obama’s actions on Syria.