Ex-Obama defense secretaries question Syria strategy - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Ex-Obama defense secretaries question Syria strategy at SMU event

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The White House is taking notice of criticism from two former defense secretaries who talked in Dallas about the situation in Syria.

Robert Gates and Leon Panetta both described what they consider flaws with President Barack Obama's policy at a Tuesday night Tate Lecture Series event at SMU.

Both said the president should not have gone to congress to seek approval for a military strike and neither is confident about Russia's role with negotiations to get chemical weapons out of Syria.

However, they differed on whether to rule out military action altogether.

"If we launch a military attack, in the eyes of a lot of people, we become the villain instead of Assad. The key here is to make Assad and his henchmen the villains and go after them," Gates said.

Panetta had a different view.

"When the president of the U.S. draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word," Panetta said.

Obama said there's evidence the Syrian government was behind a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians.

The White House on Wednesday welcomed the criticism from Gates and Panetta and said it shows how complicated the situation is in Syria.

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