(photo credit: Youtube Screenshot)
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said he has been wrestling
with the question whether a US military intervention in Syria's 22-month-old
civil war would help resolve the bloody conflict or make things worse.
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 UN officials. Transcripts of both
interviews were released on Sunday.
The United States has called on
Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, and has recognized an opposition
coalition - but has stopped short of authorizing US arming of rebels to
"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?"
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 Qaida-affiliated militants.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
said on Saturday that the United States will fly tankers to refuel French jet
fighters, expanding US 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 US
warplanes into the international effort to oust Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and
led a push to force Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office.
Syria, his administration wants to make sure US action would not backfire, he
"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
"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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