GOP critical of White House's Syria policy

Many Republicans, including Congressman Mike Rogers, have their doubts about arming the Syrian opposition.
CBS News

(CBS News) The situation in Syria continues to grow tense following the recent Houla massacre. When there was a similar slaughter in Libya, President Obama ordered air strikes that ended the dictatorship there. Should the U.S. go to war again -- this time in Syria?

In the wake of the Houla massacre, Mitt Romney called President Obama weak, saying his... "lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals."

U.S. warns of failed Syrian peace plan
Despite massacre, U.S. still won't arm Syria rebels

Romney argues the U.S. should arm the Syrian opposition. But many fellow Republicans, including Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have their doubts.

"I'm not one that believes that we should be arming the rebels right now," he said. "We're having a difficult time getting a complete picture of who they are."

Asked what he thought of how the Obama administration has handled this Syrian crisis, Rogers said: "We should have been engaged earlier. We've had discussions months ago about certain possibilities that we could do."

A few Republicans, like Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have been pushing for U.S.-led airstrikes for months.

"Are there dangers and uncertainties and risks in this approach? Absolutely. There are no ideal options in Syria. All of them contain significant risk," McCain said on the Senate floor on March 5.

But, Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary under President Bush, warned on "CBS This Morning" that toppling the dictatorship is no guarantee of a better government.

"The world, obviously, would be better off with the Assad family out of there. But the question is what comes next? And that's a very tough intelligence question."

Rumsfeld: Syria without Assad would be better

Congressional Republicans contend the U.S. should have been the first to eject Syrian diplomats instead of following the lead of other countries. They want the president to put more pressure on Russia to stop selling arms to the Syrian regime.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.