Krauthammer on Syria strike: ‘If you want to send a message, you call the Western Union’

On Tuesday’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” columnist Charles Krauthammer debated host Bill O’Reilly on the merits of the conservative arguments against President Barack Obama’s proposed actions against Syria.

O’Reilly argued some conservatives see this as an opening to attack Obama and aren’t opposed to a Syria strike out of principle. Krauthammer called that claim “cynical.”

O’REILLY: Some conservatives, knowing that or believing that, would say, “I’m going to oppose no matter what the right thing to do is, no matter if the unintended consequences are going to hurt the country. Just to damage Barack Obama, I’m going to oppose.” That mindset is in play as well.

KRAUTHAMMER: I’m not sure if that’s the reason why the list of people on the conservative side whom you say oppose this oppose it. That’s rather cynical. And I don’t see any reason I have to attribute that, because there are very good, substantive reasons why a conservative would oppose what Obama wants to do.

Krauthammer argued that the proposed action may not be serious enough, thus acting with force to just “send a message” may not be the proper action.

“I will tell you that if John McCain were the president or, let’s say, a Bob Gates, the former secretary of defense, were president, if we had a serious man in the presidency, he would not propose an air strike designed to achieve nothing,” Krauthammer said. “He would not propose an air strike, which is a message. If you want to send a message, you call the Western Union. If you want to use a tomahawk missile, which is a weapon of war designed to kill a lot of people, you do it with one objective, to alter the course of the civil war in Syria. That would be a serious use of force.”



Krauthammer acknowledged he is undecided and continued to debate O’Reilly on whether or not using military force was the proper move.

KRAUTHAMMER: Your assumption is completely wrong. How will a strike that is intended not to alter anything, simply — look, Obama — what did he call it, “a shot across the bow.”

O’REILLY: No, but, you know, Kerry said they’re going to degrade.

KRAUTHAMMER: Kerry is not the president. Obama is the one who decides. He is the one who decided Assad had to go and did nothing. He’s the guy who decided that chemicals are a red line, he did nothing. He is the guy who decided we were going to strike, he sends out Kerry, he makes an impassioned speech.

He says we have all the urgency in the world and then he spends the night, he thinks about it and decides we’re not going to do anything until he has a Congress that’s going to decided — what, it could be a day, a week, a month. No urgency at all. And you trust the judgment of this commander in chief?

O’REILLY: I don’t trust anything. And I want to make that clear to my audience because I know we’re going to get a lot of reaction there.

KRAUTHAMMER: Seriousness. The issue here is seriousness.

O’REILLY: I’m not trusting anything. I’m not trusting President Obama, I’m not trusting John Kerry, I’m not trusting John McCain. I’m saying that we should try to do the right thing. That’s what I’m supportive. And if the president of the United States is going to go in there and botch the military campaign where there isn’t going to be any — Assad isn’t going to be damaged, believe me, he’s through. End of story, he’s gone.

KRAUTHAMMER: Bill, he’s announced in advance that the purpose of the strike is not to bring down Asaad.

O’REILLY: We’ll see what the resolution is.

KRAUTHAMMER: He said in advance. That’s not a botch, that’s his objective, is to send a message. I say send a text. It’s less expensive.

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