January 28th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

Obama explains Syria hesitancy

By Kevin Liptak

President Barack Obama is still grappling with what role the United States should play in Syria's bloody conflict, which began nearly two years ago and has claimed the lives of 60,000 people.

In interviews released Sunday, the president pushed back on criticism from political rivals that his administration has been overly detached from foreign unrest, including the ongoing Syrian civil war.

"Muammar Qaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment," Obama told "60 Minutes."

"Syria's a classic example of where our involvement, we want to make sure that not only does it enhance U.S. security, but also that it is doing right by the people of Syria and neighbors like Israel that are going to be profoundly affected by it," he explained later. "And so it's true sometimes that we don't just shoot from the hip."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appearing alongside the president on "60 Minutes," called the situation in Syria a "wicked problem," but argued there was no clear blueprint for American involvement in the country.

"We are on the side of American values. We're on the side of freedom. We're on the side of the aspirations of all people, to have a better life, have the opportunities that we are fortunate to have here. But it's not always easy to perceive exactly what must be done in order to get to that outcome," she said.

In a solo interview with The New Republic, Obama listed the large questions that must be answered before the U.S. intervenes more substantially in Syria's civil war.

"In a situation like Syria, I have to ask, can we make a difference in that situation?" he told the magazine.

Read more about the comments on CNN's Political Ticker

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Diplomacy • Syria
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Attorneys

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    August 17, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  2. Tony

    President Obama is a disgrace to USA and the future will hold him and his cabinet responsible of what is going on in Syria. Israel short vision for not letting USA intervening to stop the conflict in Syria will lead to a catastrophic out come to both Israel and the region.

    January 30, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  3. Petra Bolashnik

    The US has repeatedly vowed to take action, even threatend unilateral action in Syria if the UN Security Council didn't pass a resolution to "handle" Syria (Russia and China will not vote to allow UN action in Syria, b/c they are allies with Syria). Problem is China and Russia have also told Ms. Clinton at multiple UN meetings discussing the subject that if the US takes unilateral action, Russia will take action against the US. Research it, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov speaks in Cold War rhetoric-style...and the US is afraid to wake the sleeping bear.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:55 am | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      Wrong, Petra. We have absolutely no business in Syria, none at all except to try to get the Assad regime and the so-called "rebels" together to work out some kind of peace plan. This country needs no more satellite states in the Middle East or elsewhere!

      January 29, 2013 at 11:12 am | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        At it again puny boy, its to late for that, the rebels are already using qualified personnel to get the infrastructure back up and running in quite a few of these towns and ciities, Syria's own poeple are doing this, Al Assad is a murderer and will probably die because of his actions, which can't happen fast enough. He is just like those before him, and once the snake has his head chopped off, the rest of his cronies will try and hide, with little success. These men too will meet with a bitter end. Puny boy, if your going to pretend to be me, at least put up something with some depth.

        Peace

        January 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • frank

        wjm, you are right and you are wrong.

        The Syrian people are setting up and trying to restore things on their own, however, when it's all said and done, the thing that matters is who holds the power at the end of the day. Sadly, I do not think the Syria people can fight off the armed rebels and terrorist organizations.

        January 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Hugo

    Too little too late. Syira will be one of the failed US foreign policies. I lived there for 7 years and I am familiar with their nice guest loving people. The US let Syira destroy itself so there is one less problem for the ally: Isreal.
    But as there is no help for the syrian people just from Alqaida and islam militants you will have a new Iran just at the gates of Israel with no fear of death.

    Shame on the US policy.

    January 29, 2013 at 12:56 am | Reply
  5. Tony

    The conflict in Syria is aglobal conflict and USA is a big player in that. USA want Assad to stay..they gave him time after time to confine his resistance.. Assad is the protector of the gollan Heights and the safety of Israel. It is for the benefit of Israel to have weak choatics region. USA is the one to be blamed of such disaster and suffering. USA is preventing all neighbouring country to help the rebels in Syria with different excuses and fake reasons. Obama and Hilary Cliniton washy politics is a good example of such intention.

    January 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  6. Tony

    Obama is a castrated modern black slave who can be aloquent and sofisticated. He cannot defy his masters the AIPAC and the neoconservative who brought him to the white house. The AIPAC least care about the innocent Syrians. They all wish them to die and enjoy watching them in such status. They are the chosen people . USA and it's economy and population to be slave to them.

    January 28, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Reply
    • Tom

      hint if you can't spell eloquent; dont try and define a president. Fool.

      January 28, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
      • Tony

        Sorry for my mistake but you should be sorry for your self and the world for your welfare check that you get beside the drugs you are selling. You ready to kill for 25 cents...

        January 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  7. Jeff H

    What we need to do is set the example as born again christians and prsy to the all mighty father that he deliver them from the termoil. the people need help. The US is a war withered soldier. We cannot protact this world alone. We dont have the money to do this. Other nations need to step in and help out. The great rapture will happen soon and then Christ will return to reign for the next 1000 years. The the true end will come to this evil and Satan shall be bond forever! Amen!

    January 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
    • Bibi The Play yer

      Boi ‘o boi . . . .we can sure mess up a country. economically or militarily . . . our victims include Iraq, Libya, Greece, Lebanon, Iran (except they got tired of taking an a$$ whooping and shut us out completely- that's why we're after them so hard) . . . yup!

      We can basically destroy anyone (FJK, MLK, Paul Wellstone, Ron Brown . . .the list is long) . . . .just watch out!

      Remember this: our boi obama is ours . . .we own her, we control her, she does what she's told to do. obama is our b.it.ach! LOL and we love making her hump for us.

      Remember . . . almost everyone in the American government is our puppet.

      If you think otherwise, then you are a fool!

      We control you, we own you, and we do want we want.

      we are the zine-0-ists in israelies and we run the world . . . .heeeee-hawwwww! giddy-up tonto and tonto is America!

      get used to it!

      January 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  8. Macc

    It would be politically incorrect to say "You want us to help the people, who helped fund 9/11 and danced in the streets when our towers fell? Get bent!" That would not be presidential nor in good manners.

    January 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • falalala

      i agree with you macc they need to suffer and fight there own battles they caused us pain so why can't we cause them pian

      January 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  9. Hahahahahaha

    Let the Towel Heads kill each other. Hahahahahahahaha

    January 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • Bibi The Play yer

      Hahahahahaha . . . .yeah . . . . .let's kill everyone who doesn't wear a dolie . . . . . kill 'em all . . . . . .yeah . . . . .we are the zine-0-ists of israel . . . . Hahahahahaha included . . . . . . and we love to confuse dummies . . . . we work everyday to use you , to beat, to play you, to con you, to steal your money, to rape your children, to give you porn, to wreck your society, to promote g.a.y.i.s.m. and trans genderism, to destroy your school, to infect your mind with evil thoughts . . . . .Hahahahahaha . . . . we are the zine-0-ists of israel . . . .ain't that right Hahahahahaha?

      January 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      Towel heads taught your ancestory how to clean themself...how to write and distinguish human from animals. People of your kind of race are the one who committed the holocast, wars.. and agony to human kind. Your ancestors did not figure it out how to defecate in a washroom and clean their behind ....Mr. Racist....

      January 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  10. George Patton

    Syria hesitancy? What we need to do is take a total hands off approach to the situation in that country and mind our own business!

    January 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      hey phunnie boy, here you go again. I did not post above comment, phunnie boy did it. and I support droning and bombing all muslim conflicts, if al Qaedas are invloved..

      January 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Reply
      • Lyndsie Graham

        You really must harbor a venomous hatred toward George Patton seeing how you never miss a chance to drag his name through the mud by posting your right-wing BS under it. You need to be ashamed of yourself!

        January 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
      • Hahahahahaha

        Lyndsie Graham Hahahahahaha !!!

        January 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Tony

      USA and Israel are the main players in any conflict in the Middle East. If you want to have a hand off, you got to ask your president and your industry to stop making weapons to be used in war. The war industry make USA rich my dear phunnie boy.

      January 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Reply
      • wjmccartan. true blue to the red and white

        It also allows for a free and diverse society, and the free countries will always remain so. Oh and about that other thing I'm going to take a dump, could you help I'm a slow learner.

        January 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

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