John Bolton: Obama 'Out in the Tall Grass' on Syria

Friday, 14 Jun 2013 04:58 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The Obama Administration doesn't appear to have a clear idea of how to proceed with the crisis in Syria as the possibility of major bloodshed looms, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton says.

"We still don’t know what the administration plans to do about it. It was announced not by the president," Bolton told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"The president's out in the tall grass on the Syria issue just like he is on many other issues."

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Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes has said that President Barack Obama plans to accelerate military assistance to Syrian rebels following intelligence reports that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons against opposition fighters.

But Bolton isn't convinced.

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"It's announced by a White House staffer and they're virtually no specifics in it at all," he said.

"We don't know what weapons are going to be supplied to the Syrian opposition, we don't know when it's going to take place, we don't know a lot of things.

"So it gives the impression that it's more political hoopla than anything else."

Syria and the Russians, which support the country's Assad government, this week strenuously denied that chemical weapons are being used.

"We are just as far apart from the Russians on this as we have been for the last two-and-a-half years," Bolton said.

"Senator [John] McCain said correctly – this is a regional conflict largely because of the influence of Iran and Russia supporting the Assad government."

Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said he fears Syria could erupt with major violence if the rebels triumph.

"The risk is that if the rebels take control, there will be a bloodbath against those have supported Assad — the Christians, the Alawites [a Lebanese minority group in northern Syria], the Jews . . ." he said.

"[It] is very, very real and that risk has increased as the struggle has gone on . . . Support for Assad continues to erode."

Still, Bolton predicted, the most likely prospect in the coming month is that "the conflict simply grinds on," while the U.S. ignores "the true root of the problem is, which is the regime in Tehran and Moscow."

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