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Topics in the News: Syria


Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Jun 17, 2014
2012: We helped Syrian rebels, but we should have done more

Mrs. Clinton argues that President Obama made a mistake by not more aggressively arming the moderate Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces:

"As more parts of Syria slipped free from the regime's control, we would also help local opposition groups provide essential services, such as reopening schools and rebuilding homes. But all these steps were Band-Aids. The conflict would rage on. (Page 464)

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Wall Street Journal on Hard Choices, by Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Jun 6, 2014
I wanted to arm Syrian rebels, along with regional partners

I returned to Washington reasonably confident that if we decided to begin arming and training moderate Syrian rebels, we could put in place effective coordination with our regional partners.

The risks of both action and inaction were high. Both choices would bring unintended consequences. The Presidents' inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels. No one likes to lose a debate, including me. But this was the President's call and I respected his deliberations and decision. From the beginning of our partnership, he had promised me that would always get a fair hearing. And I always did. In this case, my position didn't prevail.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Hard Choices, by Hillary Clinton, CBS pre-release excerpts

Newt Gingrich on War & Peace : Mar 23, 2014
Obama "screams loudly & carries no stick," in Russia & Syria

Sen Graham (R-SC) and Newt Gingrich co-authored an op-ed on CNN saying Obama's "scream loudly and carry no stick" foreign policy had failed to deter Russia: "It's no wonder Putin has concluded that he's unlikely to face serious consequences for his imperial adventure. The U.S. did nothing when he invaded Georgia in 2008. More recently, we did nothing after the Syrian regime violated the 'red line' Obama had established regarding the use of chemical weapons there," they wrote.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: The Hill blog on 2014 South Carolina Senate race

Rick Perry on Foreign Policy : Mar 8, 2014
Russia & Syria crises: price we pay for not leading world

America cannot sustain its current fiscal course. We cannot continue to borrow trillions from bankers in Beijing, Brazil and Tokyo. The downgrading of our credit for the first time two years ago should not have surprised anyone. Our debt has soared by trillions in the last 5 years.

How can the greatest nation on earth continue to spend its way to astounding debt without the bill ever coming due? How can we explode federal and state budgets with unreformed entitlement programs without the bill ever coming due?

How can we appease a Syrian tyrant, and embolden his Russian ally, without the bill ever coming due? There is a price to be paid for policies that destroy our economy and embolden our foreign enemies.

And I am here today to say we don't have to accept recent history. We just have to change the presidency. It is not too late for America to lead in the world. But it starts by leading at home. And it starts by returning to the founding principles of our democracy found in the Constitution.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: Speech at 2014 CPAC convention

John Bolton on Foreign Policy : Mar 7, 2014
Weak America means trouble in Russia, China, & Libya

We do not accept an America that is weak & declining. We do not accept an American military that is weak & poorly equipped, and in particular, we do not accept and American president who is weak, indecisive and apologetic about our country
Click for John Bolton on other issues.   Source: Speech at 2014 CPAC convention

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Jan 28, 2014
Support rebels in Syria who oppose terrorism

While we have put al Qaeda's core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we'll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks.

American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria's chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve--a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2014 State of the Union address

Peter King on War & Peace : Sep 9, 2013
Steadfastly support Israeli defense against Syria

As unrest continues to rock the Middle East, it is more important than ever that the United States steadfastly support the Jewish State's right to defend itself. The volatility in Syria presents substantial security risks to Israel and the world, particularly in terms of the power vacuum and the country's weapons stockpiles. On the Egyptian border, there is instability in the Sinai and a stream of weapons smuggling into Gaza. Moreover, President Morsi has made disgusting comments about Jews. I will remain vigilant in monitoring the various regime changes in the Middle East and their impact on Israel.
Click for Peter King on other issues.   Source: Congressional website, peteking.house.gov, "Issues"

Paul Ryan on War & Peace : Sep 5, 2013
2012: Red line on use of chemical weapons by Syria

President Obama declared that Syria's use of chemical weapons would cross a red line: "We have been very clear...that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized," Obama said on Aug. 20, 2012.

Few disagreed with Obama's red line back then. Indeed, during the V.P. debate, Paul Ryan said that the GOP ticket agreed with Obama's red line on Syria's use of chemical weapons. Here's the exchange:

Q: What happens if Assad does not fall?

A: Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. He's a sponsor of terrorism. He'll probably continue slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our credibility on this.

Q: So what would Romney-Ryan do about that credibility?

A: We agree with the same red line they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons. But what we should have done earlier is work with those freedom fighters, those dissidents in Syria."

Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: Mark Murray on NBC News

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Sep 5, 2013
Don't allow Syria to give WMD to terrorists

Looking back to 2012 is instructive: There was little disagreement--from Democrats or Republicans--about the potential consequences of Syria's use of chemical weapons.˙Obama declared: "We have been very clear...that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized," on Aug. 20, 2012.

On Aug. 24, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that the US could send troops into Syria to secure lose chemical weapons: "I think we have to also be ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we do not have any kind of weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and whether that requires troops, or whether that requires other actions by our friends and allies."

When asked about the threat that Syria's chemical weapons posed, Romney added: "There's a wide array of potential threats, but clearly the concern would be that some terrorist group would receive the capacity to carry out a mass destruction event."

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Mark Murray on NBC News

Andrew Cuomo on Foreign Policy : Sep 4, 2013
Follow Congressional process in Syrian intervention

Cuomo waded into Washington's debate on US military action against Syria: "I want to see an intelligent, sober, non-political discussion that comes up with an intelligent conclusion through a deliberative process," Cuomo said. "I want to see the federal government work, which means I don't want to see the gridlock we've been seeing. I don't want to see the hyper-partisanship we've been seeing that has political discussion rather than policy discussion."

Cuomo's comments come as Pres. Obama seeks authorization from Congress to strike Syria. Cuomo appeared to endorse Obama's approach of seeking congressional approval, even as Obama himself asserted that he retains the right to order strikes against Syria even without such authorization.

"This is a truly serious, phenomenally serious, topic," Cuomo said. "You're talking about a loss of life. You're talking about possibly putting Americans' lives in harm's way. So the process and the fact that government works and works well is critical here."

Click for Andrew Cuomo on other issues.   Source: Wall Street Journal: 2014 New York State gubernatorial race

Rand Paul on War & Peace : Sep 1, 2013
No involvement in Syria, even if gas attack proven

Q: The intelligence suggests this was a sarin gas attack at the hands of the Assad government. Is that enough for you to now vote to authorize the president to use force?

PAUL: No. And I think it's a mistake to get involved in the Syrian civil war. I would ask, "Do you think that it's less likely or more likely that chemical weapons will be used again if we bomb Assad?" Is it more likely or less likely that we'll have more refugees in Jordan or that Israel might suffer attack? I think all of the bad things that you could imagine are all more likely if we get involved in the Syrian civil war.

Q: Secretary Kerry says for you and others not to authorize force is really hurtful to US credibility.

PAUL: The one thing I'm proud of the president for is that he's coming to Congress in a constitutional manner & asking for our authorization. That's what he ran on: his policy was that no president should unilaterally go to war without congressional authority. And I'm proud that he's sticking by it.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Rand Paul on War & Peace : Sep 1, 2013
No US interests in either side of Syrian war

Q: The president says that the US must draw a line at the use of chemical weapons. Do you agree with that line in the sand?

PAUL: The line in the sand should be that America gets involved when American interests are threatened. I don't see American interests involved on either side of this Syrian war. I see Assad, who has protected Christians for a number of decades, and then I see the Islamic rebels on the other side who have been attacking Christians. I see Al Qaeda on the side we would go into support. And I don't see a clear-cut American interest. I don't see [the rebels, if] victorious, being an American ally.

Q: How would the US look if the president decided to take military action and Congress does not give that authority?

PAUL: I think it would show that he made a grave mistake when he drew a red line. When you set a red line that was not a good idea to beginning with, and now you're going to adhere to it to show your machismo, then you're really adding bad policy to bad policy

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Aug 31, 2013
Syria chemical attack violates essential international norm

Joe Biden said there is "no doubt" that Bashar al-Assad's regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack earlier this month on Syrian civilians. "There is no doubt that an essential international norm has been violated--violated. Chemical weapons have been used," the vice president told the American Legion National Convention. "And there is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime."

"We know that the Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons--have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons," he continued. "And instead of allowing U.N. inspectors immediate access, the government has repeatedly shelled the sites of the attack and blocked the investigation for five days."

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria"

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Aug 31, 2013
Obama rejected her 2012 plan to arm the Syrian rebels

Although Hillary Clinton hasn't weighed in on possible military intervention in the days since the latest chemical attack in Syria, she discussed the conflict in Syria in January, when asked what it would take for "America to intervene."

Clinton answered that while she thinks "we have been very actively involved," there needed to be a "credible opposition coalition," saying, "You cannot even attempt a political solution if you don't have a recognized force to counter the Assad regime."

"I think I've done what was possible to do over the last two years in trying to create or help stand up an opposition that was credible and could be an interlocutor in any kind of political negotiation," Clinton said.

In February it was revealed that the president rebuffed a plan last summer by Clinton, the CIA Director & Defense Secretary to arm the Syrian rebels.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria"

Marco Rubio on War & Peace : Aug 31, 2013
Equip and train non-jihadist Syrians to topple Assad

Rubio released a statement noting that the nation has "significant national interests at stake in the conflict in Syria" and accused the president of "leading from behind."

Over two years ago, Rubio said, he urged the U.S. to "identify non-jihadist groups in Syria and help train and equip them so that they could not only topple Assad, but also be the best organized, trained and armed group on the ground in a post-Assad Syria." But failure to act means that "we are now left with no good options."

"Military action, taken simply to save face, is not a wise use of force," Rubio said. "My advice is to either lay out a comprehensive plan using all of the tools at our disposal that stands a reasonable chance of allowing the moderate opposition to remove Assad and replace him with a stable secular government. Or, at this point, simply focus our resources on helping our allies in the region protect themselves from the threat they and we will increasingly face from an unstable Syria."

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria"

Rand Paul on War & Peace : Aug 31, 2013
No US weapons to kill Christians in Syria

Rand Paul continued to stress that "Congress declares war, not the president." Start with the Constitution, he said in an interview. "We have a separation of powers. The constitution says when we go to war Congress declares war, the president executes the war so congress doesn't get involved in the details of the war, but congress does have a very important role in whether we go to war or not."

Paul, a reliably libertarian voice, said in a statement that the situation in Syria lacks a "clear national security connection" to the U.S. but that the nation "should condemn the use of chemical weapons." There needs to be an "open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement."

Among his concerns, Paul said, is that there are "too many Christians that live in Syria... and I just don't want to see my kids or weapons of the U.S. used to kill Christians in Syria."

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria"

John Bolton on War & Peace : Aug 31, 2013
Military force in Syria is counterproductive

Bolton said that while the civil war in Syria does involve American national security interests, action at this stage--more than two years into the bloody conflict--would be counterproductive. "It is a mess largely of the president's own creation," Bolton charged. "I think our credibility has been damaged, I think the president's credibility has been. But feckless use of military force would damage the country's credibility more."

Bolton said the Syrian opposition contains factions that are deeply hostile to the U.S., and there's no indication that propping them up would be any better for American interests. The U.S. would be better off focusing on threats emanating from Iran, he said. "If you use massive military force against Assad, then that will tip the balance, which I think would be a mistake," Bolton said, acknowledging that the situation is complicated. "If you use minimal force, you won't make the point about deterrence."

Click for John Bolton on other issues.   Source: Politico.com "Bush vets split"

Marco Rubio on War & Peace : Jun 16, 2013
Syria: arm rebels last year; now just work with some

Q: You pushed for a long time for the US to arm the rebels. Is this going to make a difference?

RUBIO: In foreign policy, timing matters. These were options for us a year and a half ago, before this became this chaotic. It behooved us to identify whether there were any elements there within Syria fighting against Assad that we could work with, reasonable people that wouldn't carry out human rights violations, and could be part of building a new Syria. We failed to do that. So now our options are quite limited. Now the strongest groups fighting against Assad, unfortunately, are al Qaeda-linked elements.

Q: So here, now, what would President Rubio do? Would you commit US forces to a no-fly zone?

RUBIO: If I was in charge of this issue, we never would have gotten to this point. That being said, I think we need to continue to search for elements on the ground that we can work with, so that if & when Assad falls, they will manage a future, hopefully democratic Syria, and peaceful Syria.

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: ABC This Week 2013 series of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Jun 15, 2013
Syria's Assad crossed "red line" by using chemical weapons

Former GOP vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor Sarah Palin told a Washington audience Saturday that the U.S. should not get involved in the Syrian civil war. Palin argued that the U.S. should not intervene in any Middle East conflict as long as President Obama remains in office.

"Until we have a commander in chief who knows what he is doing....let Allah sort it out!" she told the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The statement shows how far Palin has drifted from former running mate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is the chief Senate proponent of U.S. military action to help the Syrian rebels.

This week, the White House announced it had concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels, thereby crossing a "red line." Obama has now decided to arm select elements of the Syrian rebellion.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Erik Wasson on TheHill.com

Sarah Palin on War & Peace : Jun 15, 2013
No military intervention in Syria: 'Let Allah sort it out'

Former GOP vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor Sarah Palin told a Washington audience Saturday that the U.S. should not get involved in the Syrian civil war. Palin argued that the U.S. should not intervene in any Middle East conflict as long as President Obama remains in office.

"Until we have a commander in chief who knows what he is doing....let Allah sort it out!" she told the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The statement shows how far Palin has drifted from former running mate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is the chief Senate proponent of U.S. military action to help the Syrian rebels.

This week, the White House announced it had concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels, thereby crossing a "red line." Obama has now decided to arm select elements of the Syrian rebellion.

Click for Sarah Palin on other issues.   Source: Erik Wasson on TheHill.com

Joe Biden on Foreign Policy : May 9, 2013
Iraq's lesson: Be cautious on declaring Syrian WMDs

Q: Sen. John McCain has criticized the administration's foreign policy for not being tough enough, for issuing veiled threats, at best, and being overly cautious. Now that we know Syria is using chemical weapons on its own people, how does that change the administration's approach?

A: I disagree with the basic premise. When we came into office, there were two wars raging: one without any sense of how to end it and the other without any sense of how to manage it; Al Qaeda was on the ascendancy; all of that has changed. But with regard to Syria: we don't want to blow it like the last administration did in Iraq, saying "weapons of mass destruction." We know that there have been traces found of what are probably chemical weapons. The president is likely to use a proportional response in terms of meaningful action [inclusive internationally and within Syria]. The one lesson we learned from Iraq and the last administration is, in managing the affairs in Iraq, they destroyed every institution.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Douglas Brinkley in Rolling Stone Magazine

Peter King on War & Peace : May 5, 2013
Assad is evil, but arming rebels brings another dictator

Q: Is it time for the US to directly arm the Syrian rebels?

KING: I have real concerns. The reason I say that is that so much time has gone by, and unfortunately, to a large extent, al Qaeda elements have a lot of control within the rebel movements. My concern is that, by arming the rebels, we could be strengthening al Qaeda. So, whatever arming we do--and obviously, Assad is evil, and everyone is interested that he go--but if we are going to arm the rebels, we have to make sure that those arms are not going to end up in the possession of al Qaeda supporters nor at the end game is al Qaeda going to be in a position to take over this movement.

Q: That's a pretty high bar, right? I mean, we put weapons into countries a lot and don't know where they're going to end up.

KING: Until we have a better understanding of where the weapons will be going, I'm very concerned that we're just replacing one terrible dictator with a terrible ideological movement, which is aimed at our destruction.

Click for Peter King on other issues.   Source: CNN SOTU 2013 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Martin O`Malley on Foreign Policy : Apr 24, 2013
Respect my right to shy away from foreign policy

On his 8-day trip to Israel, Jordan & the Palestinian territories, O'Malley said, "I'm sure all of you will ask me foreign policy questions. I respect your right to ask them, and I hope you'll respect my right to shy away from answering them."

On the news of the day--apparent differences between Obama and the Israeli military on whether chemical weapons had been deployed by the Syrian military--O'Malley deferred to the president's judgment. "It's certainly one of the great challenges," he allowed.

Asked whether the American people, weary from a decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, would be ready to engage in another military operation to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, O'Malley avoided specifics. "I believe that the president will make that call," he said, "and the president will have the primary responsibility of making that case to the American people and also to Congress."

How about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? "All of us hope for peace in the Middle East."

Click for Martin O`Malley on other issues.   Source: N.Y.Times on 2014 Maryland gubernatorial race

Martin O`Malley on Foreign Policy : Apr 24, 2013
Israeli separation barrier might be called "peace wall"

Governor O'Malley, 50, said it was his third visit to Israel, and that he had brought with him about 50 high-tech executives, Jewish leaders, and Maryland officials for what is essentially a trade mission. After a side trip to Jordan in which he met with Prince Faisal--"What we spoke about was the huge challenge that the ongoing conflict in Syria has for the entire region"--much of his itinerary here is filled with companies that have offices in his home state, including one that makes radar for the vaunted Iron Dome missile defense system.

A reporter pointed out that on his way into Bethlehem, he would see the controversial separation barrier Israel has erected in the West Bank. O'Malley said he had seen something similar in Northern Ireland. "They call it the peace wall," he noted.

Click for Martin O`Malley on other issues.   Source: N.Y.Times on 2014 Maryland gubernatorial race

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Mar 4, 2013
Syria's Assad must go, but carefully vet who gets aid

The US and Israel have a shared interest in Syria. Assad has shown his father's disregard for human life and dignity, engaging in brutal murder of his own citizens. Our position on that tragedy could not be clearer: Assad must go. But we are not signing up for one murderous gang replacing another in Damascus.

That's why our focus is on supporting a legitimate opposition not only committed to a peaceful Syria but to a peaceful region. We're carefully vetting those to whom we provide assistance. That's why, while putting relentless pressure on Assad and sanctioning the pro-regime, Iranian-backed militia, we've also designated al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization.

And because we recognize the great danger Assad's chemical and biological arsenals pose to Israel and the US, to the whole world, we've set a clear red line against the use of the transfer of the those weapons. And we will work together to prevent this conflict and these horrific weapons from threatening Israel's security.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Feb 4, 2013
Assad is no longer fit to lead the Syrian people; he must go

I'll be meeting with the leaders of the Syrian Opposition Coalition. Pres. Obama and I and nearly all of our partners and allies are convinced that President Assad, a tyrant, hell-bent on clinging to power, is no longer fit to lead the Syrian people and he must go.

We can all agree on the increasingly desperate plight of the Syrian people and the responsibility of the international community to address that plight. Just this week the international community came together to pledge $1.5 billion for humanitarian support for the Syrian people and refugees fleeing the violence. As part of that effort, President Obama announced that we would be contributing $155 million.

In Libya, NATO acted quickly, effectively and decisively. And now we are working together to support Libya in building effective institutions of governance. We've joined forces in response to the unprecedented promise & unresolved turmoil of the Arab Spring--from Tunis to Tripoli to Sana'a--and it's going to be required to continue.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 22, 2012
We organized world community to agree that Assad has to go

Q: It's been more than a year since you told Assad he had to go. Since then 30,000 Syrians have died. Should we reassess our policy?

OBAMA: What we've done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We've mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance, and we are helping the opposition organize. But ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own future. Everything we're doing, we're doing in consultation with our partners, including Israel and Turkey and other countries in the region that have a great interest in this. Now, what we're seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking, and that's why we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition. I am confident that Assad's days are numbered, but we also have to recognize that for us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step.

ROMNEY: Syria is a humanitarian disaster.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Oct 22, 2012
Syria is humanitarian disaster; arm the rebels

OBAMA: We have to help the [Syrian] opposition [in a way] that we're not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us. But what we can't do is, as Gov. Romney has suggested, give heavy weapons to the Syrian opposition.

ROMNEY: First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster. Secondly, Syria's an opportunity for us because Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea. It's the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens our ally Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. A replacement government is critical for us [but] we don't want to get drawn into a military conflict. And so the right course for us is to identify responsible parties within Syria, bring them together in a form of council that can take the lead in Syria, and then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Oct 22, 2012
No military involvement in Syria; work with our allies

ROMNEY: [In Syria], we should be playing the leadership role there, not on the ground with military--

OBAMA: We are playing the leadership role. We organized the "Friends of Syria." We are mobilizing humanitarian support and support for the opposition.

Q: Would you go beyond what the administration would do? Like, for example, would you put in no-fly zones over Syria?

ROMNEY: I don't want to have our military involved in Syria. I don't think there's a necessity to put our military in Syria at this stage. I don't anticipate that in the future. As I indicated, our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in place a new government which is friendly to us--a responsible government, if possible. And I want to make sure the get armed and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves but also to remove Assad. But I do not want to see a military involvement on the part of our troops.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Paul Ryan on Foreign Policy : Oct 11, 2012
Equivocating makes our enemies more likely to attack us

RYAN: We should have spoken out right away when the Green Revolution was up and starting, when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people. We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights, and we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we're cutting our own defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness, and when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us, they're more brazen in their attacks.

BIDEN: With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey.

Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2012
Syria not like Libya; intervention would ignite the region

Q: In March of last year, President Obama explained the military action taken in Libya by saying it was in the national interest to go in and prevent further massacres from occurring there. So why doesn't the same logic apply in Syria?

BIDEN: It's a different country. It's a different country. It is five times as large geographically. It has 1/5 the population that is Libya. It's in a part of the world where you're not going to see whatever would come from that war. If it blows up and the wrong people gain control, it's going to have impact on the entire region, causing potentially regional wars. And all this loose talk of [Ryan and] Romney, about how we could do so much more there, what more would they do other than put American boots on the ground? The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East.

RYAN: Nobody is proposing to send American troops to Syria. But we would not be going through the UN.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Paul Ryan on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2012
No boots on the ground in Syria, but stop acting thru UN

BIDEN: All this loose talk of [Ryan and] Romney, about how we could do so much more there, what more would they do other than put American boots on the ground? The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East.

RYAN: Nobody is proposing to send American troops to Syria. How would we do things differently? We wouldn't refer to Bashar Assad as a reformer when he's killing his own civilians. We wouldn't be outsourcing our foreign policy to the UN. After international pressure mounted, then President Obama said Bashar Assad should go. It's been over a year. The man has slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people and more foreign fighters are spilling into this country. So the longer this has gone on, the more groups like al-Qaida are going in.

BIDEN: What would you do differently?

RYAN: We would not be going through the UN. Things like embargoes and sanctions and overflights--those are things that don't put American troops on the ground.

Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Paul Ryan on Foreign Policy : Sep 14, 2012
Confident exercise of US leadership keeps peace in Mideast

Peace, freedom, and civilized values have enemies in this world, as we have been reminded by events in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. [Our enemies] are extremists who operate by violence and intimidation. And the least equivocation or mixed signal only makes them bolder. Look across that region today, and what do we see?Amid all these threats & dangers, what we do not see is steady, consistent American leadership. In the years ahead, American foreign policy needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose. Only by the confident exercise of American influence are evil and violence overcome. That is how we keep problems abroad from becoming crises. That is what keeps the peace. And that is what we will have in a Romney-Ryan administration.
Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: Speech at 2012 Values Voters Summit

Condoleezza Rice on War & Peace : Aug 29, 2012
We should support free people, including Syria

We have seen that the desire for liberty and freedom is, indeed, universal, as men and women in the Middle East rise up to seize it. Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty, internal strife, and hostile neighbors our challenging the young, fragile democracy of Iraq. Dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their people and threat to regional security. Russia and China prevent a response, and everyone asks, where does America stand?

Indeed, that is the question of the hour. Where does America stand? You see when the friends or foes alike don't know the answer to that question, unambiguously and clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic place. Since world war II, the US has had an answer to that question. We stand for free peoples and free markets. We will defend and support them.

Click for Condoleezza Rice on other issues.   Source: 2012 Republican National Convention speech

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Aug 24, 2012
Troops to Syria if Assad spreads chemical weapons

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday that he would send U.S. troops to Syria if needed to prevent the spread of chemical weapons.

"I think we have to also be ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we do not have any kind of weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and whether that requires troops, or whether that requires other actions by our friends and allies," Romney said in an interview, specifically noting that Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been involved in the region.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Steve Peoples on Huffington Post Politics

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Aug 21, 2012
Syrian use of chemical weapon is "red line" for intervention

Obama has declared the threat of chemical or biological warfare in Syria a "red line" for the US, outlining for the first time the point at which his administration could feel forced to intervene militarily in the Arab country's increasingly messy conflict. It is widely thought that Syria possesses extensive chemical and biological weapon stockpiles, and it has threatened to use them if the country comes under foreign attack.

"That's an issue that doesn't just concern Syria. It concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel," Obama said. "We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people."

The president said: "We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region, that that's a red line for us, and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front, or the use of chemical weapons." Obama reiterated his call for Assad to step down.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Associated Press in Newsday

Ted Cruz on War & Peace : Jun 22, 2012
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan went on too long

Both candidates agreed that the U.S. should not commit to military action in Syria, and said that while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began for noble reasons, they went on too long. Only a bit of disagreement came when Dewhurst said the Obama administration pulled combat troops out of Iraq too soon and should have left some behind.
Click for Ted Cruz on other issues.   Source: San Francisco Chronicle on 2012 Texas Senate debates

Marco Rubio on Foreign Policy : Apr 25, 2012
Military action should be on the table in Iran & Syria

Rubio argued for an American foreign policy that remains engaged in foreign lands, saying the U.S. should become involved in Syria, and arguing that military action may need to be taken to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

And Rubio made clear that military action should be on the table in Iran. "We should also be preparing our allies, and the world, for the reality that unfortunately, if all else fails, preventing a nuclear Iran may, tragically, require a military solution," he said.

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: MSNBC on Rubio's speech to Brookings Institution

Marco Rubio on Foreign Policy : Apr 25, 2012
America needs a foreign policy of engaging abroad

Rubio argued for an American foreign policy that remains engaged in foreign lands, saying the US should become involved in Syria, and arguing that military action may need to be taken in Iran. "I disagree with voices in my own party who argue we should not engage at all. Who warn we should heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go 'abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,'" said Rubio. "I disagree, because all around us we see the human face of America's influence in the world."
Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: MSNBC on Rubio's speech to Brookings Institution

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Dec 22, 2011
Syrian brutality must end; Assad must step down

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threatens to "fan the flames" of sectarian conflict not only in Syria but in the wider region, Biden said. "Assad and his regime are the source of instability in Syria now and pose the greatest danger to fanning flames of sectarian conflict not only in Syria but beyond," Biden told the Turkish president when they met Friday.

Biden said the "number one objective" was to get the Syrian regime to stop killing civilians and for Assad to quit power. "The US position on Syria is clear. The Syrian regime must end its brutality against its own people and President Assad must step down so a peaceful transition that respects the will of the people can take place," Biden said.

Biden called for a peaceful transition in Syria and broader global sanctions over the crackdown. "Syria's stability is important. That is exactly why we are insisting on change -- it is the current situation that is unstable," Biden said in response to emailed questions from a Turkish newspaper.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Agence France Presse on Naharnet Newsdesk (Lebanon)

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Dec 13, 2011
Iran is isolated, and will be more so when Syria falls

Q: After the Iraq war, is Iran in a stronger position than it would have been without the Iraq war? Because Saddam Hussein was Iran`s sworn enemy, and now, a new Iraq is in some ways a de facto ally of Iran.

BIDEN: Well, the argument was made early on that we removed two of Iran`s most greatest concerns, Saddam in Iraq, and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the result now, in part because of some really outrageous moves that Iran has made, it actually has lost power in the entire region. The fact of the matter is its only ally left in the region is about to be toppled. That is in Syria with Bashar Assad. But the biggest thing that`s happened is the president has been able to unite the world, including Russia and China, in continuing to ostracize and to isolate Iran. So, the truth is, the capacity of Iran to project power in the Gulf is actually diminished. They are less feared. They have less influence than they have had any time, I would argue, in the last 20 years.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Interview in MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show"

Rick Perry on War & Peace : Nov 22, 2011
Sanction the Iranian Central Bank; no-fly zone over Syria

Q: Do you believe that there is any set of sanctions that could be put in place that would stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

PERRY: Absolutely. We need to sanction the Iranian Central Bank. That would be one of the most powerful ways to impact that. That is what we need to do before we ever start having any conversations about a military strike, is to use every sanction that we have. And when you sanction the Iranian Central Bank, that will shut down that economy. At that particular point in time, they truly have to deal with the US. All of them working together--and I'm talking about Syria--bring them into the mix as well. One of the options is to have a no-fly zone over Syria at the same time you're putting those types of sanctions against Iran. And in that moment, they will understand that America is serious. This President refuses to do that, and it's another show of lack of leadership from the President of the US.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate

Sarah Palin on Foreign Policy : Sep 24, 2008
We cannot meet rogue leaders without conditions

Q: Should the U.S. negotiate with leaders like President Assad and Ahmadinejad?

A: I think, with Ahmadinejad, personally, he is not one to negotiate with. You can’t just sit down with him with no preconditions being met. Barack Obama is so off-base in his proclamation that he would meet with some of these leaders around our world who would seek to destroy America and that, and without preconditions being met. That’s beyond naive. And it’s beyond bad judgment. I’ve never heard Henry Kissinger say, “Yeah, I’ll meet with these leaders without preconditions being met.” Diplomacy is about doing a lot of background work first and shoring up allies and positions and figuring out what sanctions perhaps could be implemented if things weren’t gonna go right. That’s part of diplomacy.

Click for Sarah Palin on other issues.   Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric

Barack Obama on Foreign Policy : Jul 22, 2008
Appropriate for Israel to take out Syrian nuclear reactor

Q: How likely do you think a preemptive military strike by Israel against Iran may be?

A: I will not hypothesize on that. I think Israel has a right to defend itself. But I will not speculate on the difficult judgment that they would have to make in a whole host of possible scenarios.

Q: This is not a speculative question then. Was it appropriate, in your view, for Israel to take out that suspected Syrian nuclear site last year?

A: Yes. I think that there was sufficient evidence that they were developing a site using a nuclear or using a blueprint that was similar to the North Korean model. There was some concern as to what the rationale for that site would be. And, again, ultimately, I think these are decisions that the Israelis have to make. But, you know, the Israelis live in a very tough neighborhood where a lot of folks, publicly proclaim Israel as an enemy and then act on those proclamations.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Jan 31, 2008
Can’t let the Iraqis think the US will be there forever

We have to send several messages at once. We are withdrawing, and I believe that is the best message to send to the Iraqis. That they need to know that they have to get serious, because so far they have been under the illusion that the Bush administratio and the Republicans who have more of the same will be there indefinitely. It’s important to send that message to the region, because Iran, Syria, the other countries in the neighborhood, are going to find themselves in a very difficult position as we withdraw. Be careful what you wish for. They will be dragged into what is sectarian divisiveness with many different factions among the 3 main groups. Therefore, we need to start diplomatic efforts immediately, getting the Iranians, the Syrians, and others to the table. It’s in their interest, our interest, and certainly in the Iraqis’ interest. Bush has taken the view that I find absolutely indefensible, that he doesn’t have to bring any agreement about permanent bases and ongoing occupation.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday

Mike Huckabee on War & Peace : Jan 27, 2008
Saddam might have had WMD and got them to Syria before 2003

Q: At the last debate you said that Saddam Hussein may, in fact, have had weapons of mass destruction when the US invaded in 2003. You said, “Now, everybody can look back and say, ‘Oh, well, we didn’t find the weapons.’ It doesn’t mean they weren’t there Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted.” Governor, the Iraq Survey Group looked around Iraq for months after the invasion, could find no evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active WMD program when he was ousted, nor any active stockpile of weapons. Do you have any evidence for that contention?

Q: Oh, I don’t have any evidence. But he was the one who announced openly that he did have weapons of mass destruction. My point was that, no, we didn’t find them. Did they get into Syria? Did they get into some remote area of Jordan? Did they go to some other place? We don’t know. They may not have existed. But simply saying, “We didn’t find them, so therefore they didn’t exist,” is a bit of an overreach.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series

Barack Obama on Principles & Values : Nov 11, 2007
Gave away all Rezko “boneheaded” donations to charity

Obama’s longtime relationship with a Syrian-born realtor, Antoin Rezko, has dented his image. Rezko, now under federal indictment for favor-trading and fraud, was one of Obama’s first funders, and over the years he contributed about $150,000 to Obama’s various campaigns. Obama’s law firm represented Rezko, and as a state legislator he recommended the developer for state housing grants that netted Rezko and a partner $855,000 in fees. Obama didn’t seem to notice that a number of Rezko buildings in his low-income district failed.

Obama has given all the Rezko money currently in his larder to charity, and he has called the land deal [he made with Rezko for Obama’s personal home] “boneheaded,” putting it down to anxieties about purchasing a first home (though his family had previously lived in a Hyde Park condo). No one has alleged that Obama did anything illegal, but his slip-sliding response to questions about Rezko suggests that, should he succeed, he will not drive every pig from the trough.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 74-76

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Aug 5, 2007
Keep option to attack Al Qaeda in Pakistan, but don’t say it

Q: Sen. Obama said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf will not act, we will.” You said you didn’t agree with Obama’s plan and you called it “ill-timed and ill-considered.”

A: Yes, I think Barack Obama is confused as to who are our friends and who are our enemies. In his first year, he wants to meet with Castro & Chavez & Assad & Ahmadinejad. Those are our enemies. Those are the world’s worst tyrants. And then he says he wants to unilaterally go in and potentially bomb a nation which is our friend. We’re trying to strengthen Musharraf.

Q: But if the CIA said, “We had Osama bin Laden in our sights, Musharraf says no,” what do you do?

A: It’s wrong for a person running for the president to get on TV and say, “We’re going to go into your country unilaterally.” Of course, America always maintains our option to do whatever we think is in the best interests of America. But we keep our options quiet.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate

Barack Obama on Foreign Policy : Jul 23, 2007
Meet with enemy leaders; it’s a disgrace that we have not

Q: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this: the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them--which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration--is ridiculous. Ronald Reagan constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when he called them an evil empire. He understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward. And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

CLINTON: I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don’t want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC

Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy : Jul 23, 2007
Diplomacy yes; propaganda no; when meeting enemy leaders

Q: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba & N.Korea?

OBAMA: I would. The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them is ridiculous. I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

CLINTON: I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort but not a high level meeting before you know what the intentions are. I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration. I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we’re not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro & Hugo Chavez & the president of North Korea, Iran & Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC

Mike Huckabee on War & Peace : Jun 10, 2007
Insist that Iraq’s neighbors assist military & financially

Q: The United Nations says there already have been two million refugees who have fled Iraq, mostly to Jordan and to Syria. Isn’t this a huge refugee crisis already?

A: It is a huge problem. But imagine if millions and millions more go to these countries, whose infrastructure simply can’t absorb them. Then you have a destabilized region. One of the things that the US must do is to more strongly insist to the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Turks, the Kuwaitis that their involvement militarily, their involvement financially, their involvement even theologically with the more radical wings of the Islamic faith are critical for us to solve this issue.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer

Newt Gingrich on War & Peace : May 20, 2007
Iraq & Syria are enemies--ok to talk if we understand that

GINGRICH [to Dodd]: The Baker-Hamilton Commission suggested that we engage Iran & Syria, who are our enemies in the region. The fact is the Iranians want us defeated. The Iranians are providing weapons, training and money to defeat us. This would be like saying, “Why don’t we turn to Nazi Germany to help us manage fascist Italy?”

DODD: The idea we don’t talk to the Syrians & Iranians in a moment like this, I think, is terribly naive and dangerous for the country, in my view.

GINGRICH: I’m perfectly happy to talk to Syrians and the Iranians. We’ve had a number of secretaries of state who’ve gone to Damascus, several of whom have been snubbed. Our secretary of state was snubbed the other day by the Iranians. I just want us to understand who we’re talking about. Reagan had no doubt that the Soviet Union was an evil empire. He had a clear vision of the Cold War. He said, “We win, they lose.” And he did what you’re calling for. They unraveled the Soviet empire, largely without firing a shot.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 12, 2004
Terrorists are in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran

OBAMA: The Bush administration could not find a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. WMD are not found in Iraq. And so, it is absolutely true that we have a network of terrorists, but it takes a huge leap of logic to suddenly suggest that that means that we invade Iraq. Saudi Arabia has a whole bunch of terrorists, so have Syria and Iran, and all across the globe. To mount full-scale invasions as a consequence is a bad strategy. It makes more sense for us to focus on those terrorists who are active to try to roll them up where we have evidence that in fact these countries are being used as staging grounds that would potentially cause us eminent harm, and then we go in. The US has to reserve all military options in facing such an imminent threat- but we have to do it wisely.

KEYES: That’s the fallacy, because you did make an argument just then from the wisdom of hindsight, based on conclusions reached now which were not in Bush’s hands several months ago when he had to make this decision.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: [Xref Obama] IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network

Condoleezza Rice on War & Peace : Oct 16, 2001
Syria must decide: either for terrorism or against it

Q: How about Syria?

A: We do not believe that Syria can be against al Qaeda, but in favor of other terrorist groups. But we have had some discussions with Syria. President Bush invites countries to stop the practice of harboring terrorism.

Q: So if Syria does not cooperate against people who are from Jihad or Hamas, they should be targeted also?

A: We have ruled out at this point issues that draw distinctions between types of terrorism. We just don’t think that’s the right thing to do. You can’t say there are good terrorists and there are bad terrorists. But the means that we use with different countries to get them to stop harboring terrorists may be very broad. And there are many means at our disposal.

There are not a lot of discussions with Syria, but we have had discussions with Syria that suggest: get out of the business of sponsoring terrorism. We’re asking that of every state of the world. You cannot be neutral in this fight; you either are for terrorism or against it.

Click for Condoleezza Rice on other issues.   Source: National Security Advisor Interview with Al Jazeera TV

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Nov 11, 1999
Extend peace treaties to Palestinians, Syrians & Lebanese

The message of Oslo [was]: How we can fulfill Rabin’s legacy by bidding farewell to generations of war and ushering in a new century of real and lasting peace? The same must be true on all of Israel’s borders so that the peace that now covers some will be a peace that extends to all-Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Remarks at Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center

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