AMERICAS > Obama weighs military intervention in Syria


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President Barack Obama said he has been wrestling with the question whether a U.S. military intervention in Syria's 22-month-old civil war would help resolve the bloody conflict or make things worse.
In a pair of interviews, Obama responded to critics who say the United States has not been involved enough in Syria, where thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced according to U.N. officials. Transcripts of both interviews were released on Sunday.
The United States has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, and has recognized an opposition coalition - but has stopped short of authorizing U.S. arming of rebels to overthrow Assad.
"In a situation like Syria, I have to ask: can we make a difference in that situation?" Obama said in an interview with The New Republic published on the magazine's website.
Obama said he has to weigh the benefit of a military intervention with the ability of the Pentagon to support troops still in Afghanistan, where the United States is withdrawing combat forces after a dozen years of war.
"Could it trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons? What offers the best prospect of a stable post-Assad regime?
"And how do I weigh tens of thousands who've been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?" he said.
Obama's comments come as world leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, said they wished the United States were more engaged in geopolitical issues such as the conflicts in Syria and Mali, where France is attacking al Qaeda-affiliated militants.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday that the United States will fly tankers to refuel French jet fighters, expanding U.S. involvement, which had been limited to sharing intelligence and providing airlift support.
In an interview with CBS television program "60 Minutes," Obama bristled when asked to respond to criticism that the United States has been reluctant to engage in foreign policy issues like the Syrian crisis.
Obama said his administration put U.S. warplanes into the international effort to oust Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and led a push to force Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office.
But in Syria, his administration wants to make sure U.S. action would not backfire, he said.
"We do nobody a service when we leap before we look, where we ... take on things without having thought through all the consequences of it," Obama told CBS.
"We are not going to be able to control every aspect of every transition and transformation" in conflicts around the world, he said. "Sometimes they're going to go sideways."


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mara mcglothin

1/29/2013 3:33:59 PM

GOODFELLOW I would just say that the USA should learn from their past mistakes and stay out of other countries. UMMAH is the first to suggest We(USA) do something to get rid of Assad, and then he would show up here and post criticism of our operation. UMMAH Do you really believe that the USA/the people wanted to stay in Iraq for years? I know people who built the same school three times and everytime it was destroyed again by the appreciative Iraqis. No good deed goes unpunished.

ilker avni

1/29/2013 5:31:50 AM

@ Hakan salci I find myself agreeing with you.Muslims killing each is excepted as the norm in the west,why? because muslims are regarded as barbarians,the fact that these Muslim Brotherhood want to impose Sharia law (which is regarded as barbaric by the west) against the will of the majority of its citizens. Its these religous nut jobs whose agenda is to take power away from the people and to put it in they pockets and rule over them with a iron rod with anti western propergander.

ilker avni

1/29/2013 5:08:20 AM

The USA should stay out,but should arm the oppostion with better weapons,we dont want another muslim brotherhood in Syria you only have to look at Egypt who is in turmoil. Islam doesnt do Demorcracy its not in the Koran,seeking demorcray is a pipe dream or is used as a smoke screen by those who want change in a dictatorship to implement so called demorcracy but a muslim version,which is another form of athortarian rule which is evident in most muslim countries,Iran,Egpyt a prime example.


1/28/2013 11:33:28 PM

Hacked emails from defense contractor Britam reveal a plan “approved by Washington” and funded by Qatar to stage a chemical weapons attack in Syria and blame it on the Assad regime, fulfilling what the Obama administration has made clear is a “red line” that would mandate US military intervention

Jon Goodfellow

1/28/2013 11:29:38 PM

Speaking of Muslims, the Ummah, and interventions, anyone noticed how Qatar and Sauds oppose intervention by French in Mali? Do Sahel black Muslims count in the ummah? Or do they just also support thugs who murder, maim, burn ancient libraries and even residents? And both Obama and Mara have a point. US could back rebels to oust Syria's Assad, but influence over post-Assad situation would be limited, and fanatics there same as those in Mali whose mayhem is affront to God's creation.

Eric Martin

1/28/2013 11:22:48 PM

The Turkish position of not giving weapons to the rebels is poor. They need jets and antiaircraft missiles. Give them the weapons. Quit waiting for the USA to do something. What's with all these Arabs or Syrian comments? The people there hate Assad and want freedom! Down with the dictator.

Aslam Benli

1/28/2013 9:09:00 PM

no American troops please; now they are calling for them, tomorrow's headlines will be "Americans killing Muslims again"

mara mcglothin

1/28/2013 7:23:10 PM

UMMAH There are enough Egyptians for example who have been educated in the "West" and they are no better off than any of the other countries involved. You cannot mix religion and democracy. I simply will not work. Already there has been a crackdown on women in Egypt and their rights are at risk. As I just said in previous posts, the unification of Muslim powers will take years because they insist on fighting among themselves instead of governing.

Ummah Muslim

1/28/2013 6:44:19 PM

And one more thing. You say ''islamist government''. What do you mean with that? The muslims can only unite with a democratic system. So after the muslim country's will open their borders and become a empire with more then 1 billion inhabitants )From Marocco to Pakistan)they will use democracy as their main system. Power to the people.

Ummah Muslim

1/28/2013 6:40:03 PM

Yea but the intervation is for the destroying of the assad army. And that's it. No problem with that. But if the west attack Syria just like Iraq , and kill 1 million muslims and stay for more then 10 years in that country , well then i say stay out. But if you just come and destroy the army of assad and leave, then its ok for me.
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