Sen. Ted Cruz: 'A Military Attack Is a Mistake'

By Susan Jones | September 9, 2013 | 5:42 AM EDT

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (AP File Photo)

( - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "is a brutal murderer" who deserves worldwide condemnation, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Sunday. Nevertheless, "I think a military attack is a mistake," Cruz told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week."

Cruz gave two reasons why a U.S. attack on Syria would be a mistake:

"One, because I think the administration is proceeding with the wrong objective; and, two, because they have no viable plan for success. They're beginning from the wrong objective because this attack is not based on defending U.S. national security. It is not based on defending Americans or our allies, rather it is explicitly framed by President Obama, by Secretary Kerry, as a defense of what they call 'international norms.' And I don't think that's the job of our military, to be defending amorphous international norms. There are many other steps we can do to express strong disapproval to Assad's murderous conduct," Cruz said.

Cruz said he believes the U.S., instead of attack Syria, should cut off the $500 million in aid it sends to Iraq unless Iraq stops letting Iran fly over its territory to resupply Assad. And he said the U.S. should "force a vote in the U.N. Security Council condemning Assad's use of chemical weapons to murder his own citizens."

Cruz agreed that Russia and China would veto such a resolution. "But we should make them veto it on the world stage," he said.

"And if they do veto it, we should respond by, with respect to Russia, we should reinstate the anti-ballistic missile station in Eastern Europe that was canceled at the beginning of the Obama administration to appease Russia. And with respect to China, we should go through with selling the new F-16s to Taiwan that again this administration put the kibosh on."

Cruz mentioned some of the unintended consequences of U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war.

"[J]ust because Assad is a murderous tyrant doesn't mean his opponents are any better." Cruz pointed to U.S. intelligence showing that of the nine major rebel groups in Syria, at lease seven appear to have significant ties to al Qaeda.

"And the problem with this strike is, one of two things is possible. Either the strike is really significant, it weakens Assad and the result is the rebels are able to succeed. And if what happens there is al-Qaida taking over or al-Nusra taking over and extremist terrorists getting access to those chemical weapons, that hurts U.S. national security."

Cruz said he's traveled across Texas for the past two weeks, and "it has been unanimous" with "Texans saying, 'Don't put us in the middle of a sectarian civil war,  particularly when doing so would help al-Qaida terrorists.'"

If President Obama strikes Syria without congressional authority, "It would be contrary to the Constitution," Cruz said.

"And, listen, this is not the time for politics," he continued. "This is a grave and serious moment. I would like to support our commander in chief. I would like to see our commander in chief focused on protecting U.S. national security.

"One of the problems with all of this focus on Syria is it's missing the ball from what we should be focused on, which is the grave threat from radical Islamic terrorism. I mean, just this week is the one-year anniversary of the attack on Benghazi. In Benghazi, four Americans were killed, including the first ambassador since 1979. When it happened, the president promised to hunt down the wrongdoers. And yet, a few months later, the issue has disappeared. You don't hear the president mention Benghazi. Now it's a phony scandal. We ought to be defending U.S. national security and going after radical Islamic terror."