Tags: James Stavridis | Obama | Syria | Sorrow | Shame

Adm. James Stavridis: Obama Will Remember Syria With 'Deep Sorrow, Some Shame'

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016 08:13 AM

One of President Barack Obama's strengths is that he's "deliberative and cautious," but when it came to the situation in Syria, he needed to make a move, retired Admiral James Stavridis said Wednesday.

"So often our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness," Stavridis, now the chief international analyst for NBC News and MSNBC told the "Morning Joe" program. "[Obama] will look back in deep sorrow and some shame."

It sent a "very bad" message when Obama drew his "red line," on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but didn't take action, said Stavridis.

Assad had agreed to stop the use of chemical weapons against his own people, but went on to kill more than 1,400 civilians with sarin gas in 2013, after Obama had said the use of the weapons would represent a "red line" that forced the United States to take action.

However, Obama did not launch airstrikes, deciding instead to allow Russia to settle the situation.

Stavridis, a former NATO commander and current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said Wednesday the biggest mistake Obama made was the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

"If we kept 15,000 there, you can drop a plumb line to the rise of ISIS and dissolution in Syria," he said. "In the Syrian context, it was not taking out Assad's air force as part of the move to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction, aka the red line. That's the moment where we could have made a difference with the facts on the ground. It's before Russia came in."

Moving forward, the United States, under incoming President-elect Donald Trump, needs to move toward a "transactional relationship" with Russia, and to "confront where we must," such as in Syria, Ukraine, and in the case of cyber attacks.

"Those are three big confrontational zones," said Stavridis. "We ought to look for areas of cooperation. We've got to establish a better transactional relationship.

"That doesn't mean surrendering our values but it means having a situation with Russia where we can use leverage on one side of the equation to bring pressure to bear. Sanctions can be connected to better behavior in other places."

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One of President Barack Obama's strengths is that he's "deliberative and cautious," but when it came to the situation in Syria, he needed to make a move, retired Admiral James Stavridis said Wednesday.
James Stavridis, Obama, Syria, Sorrow, Shame
365
2016-13-14
Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016 08:13 AM
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