Rep. Schiff: Obama’s Syria Strategy ‘Brilliant,’ But U.S. Will Be Blamed for Any 'Massacres'

By Alissa Tabirian | September 16, 2013 | 1:38 PM EDT

( – After praising the Obama Administration for the “brilliant” deal it struck with Russia Saturday that requires Syria to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons by next year, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) warned that the U.S. will be held responsible for supplying the Syrian rebels with weapons if the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime results in “chaos” and “massacres”.

MSNBC host Alex Witt began the discussion Sunday by calling attention to “so many who have criticized this president” for lacking a “cohesive message. And yet the fact is, the President said, we want you to stop using chemical weapons, and it would seem that, if this deal goes through, he’s won without launching one Tomahawk missile.”

“If we look back say six or nine months ago,” Schiff responded, “and we were to see in a crystal ball that we’d be at the point today where Syria would be signing the chemical weapons convention, agreeing to UN inspectors to take away these weapons and destroy them, all without a single shot fired, we would say any administration that can make that happen has got to be brilliant.”

“Now, it’s been ugly getting here,” he admitted. Referring to recent reports that the CIA has already begun supplying Syrian rebels with light weapons, Schiff warned about escalation of the conflict.

“I don’t think we’re talking about a level of weaponry that’s likely to change the balance on the battlefield,” Schiff said, predicting that “we’re going to be called on to provide more weapons." The military aid would eventually include “even more sophisticated weapons," he said.

“Pretty soon you are stuck in the middle of this war and taking ownership for it. And then if the regime falls too precipitously and there’s chaos, and Sunnis start massacring Alawhites, then it’s going to be our responsibility to fix this broken object,” Schiff said. “No one wants to take ownership of this.”

The California Democrat added that arming the Syrian rebels could be a "slippery slope" for the U.S.

However, in a joint statement, Republican Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the administration’s agreement with Russia “meaningless” as it “does nothing to resolve the real problem in Syria.”

“It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the start of a diplomatic blind alley, and the Obama Administration is being led into it by Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin,” they said.

“What concerns us most is that our friends and enemies will take the same lessons from this agreement – they see it as an act of provocative weakness on America’s part."