Ranking Republican Richard Lugar (R-IN) objected even to that. “I still feel that we should not include a reference to Assad in the paragraph,” he said.
“For us to get into a situation where are making these sorts of judgments seems to be overstepping without really having a fundamental debate,” said Lugar “We crept on this before during the Libya situation… and we’ve never really had a debate. The personalization of this resolution is not a good idea.”
Rogin’s headline makes the story one of divisions among Republicans on the committee, but the more interesting part is why more Republicans on the committee voted against the resolution than for it (five of the nine voted no). Judging from Lugar’s remarks here and the other statements in the report, it seems that they were reluctant to endorse a call for Assad’s departure because there has been no consideration of the implications, and because it would oblige the U.S. to take actions to bring about that outcome. Lugar also seems to have been wary of personalizing the issue by focusing so much just on Assad. That’s understandable. Assad’s departure wouldn’t represent the end of the regime, nor would it remove the incentives that the communities more or less aligned with the regime have to prefer the continuation of the regime to whatever might replace it. The biggest mistake that the administration has made on Syria is its insistence that Assad “must go” when there is no obvious way to make him give up power that wouldn’t exacerbate Syria’s conflict. The Foreign Relations Committee just made the same mistake.