Tags: Donald Trump | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism | chemical | weapons | attack

Former US Diplomat Burns: 'U.S. Had to Respond' in Syria

MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

By    |   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017 03:23 PM

The United States "had to respond" to the Syrian chemical weapon attack last week, former U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday.

"The use of sarin gas, of chemical weapons repeatedly by the Syrians, it had to be met with a response; the U.S. was the only country with a capacity to do that," said Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, who was formerly the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in President George W. Bush's administration.

He then explained his belief the strike was an important signal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying it is significant "because chemical weapons have been banned for the last 30 years, and the U.S. led the chemical weapons convention, and these are uniquely dangerous weapons to civilians. You saw the damage they've done over many years. That's the reason why the U.S. Had to respond."

Burns told The Washington Post last week the Trump administration has got to take this forward and articulate a strategy that capitalizes on the new credibility that they have."

The former ambassador to NATO and Greece identified "the problem the administration has right now is they're all over the map in what they're saying about what their objectives are and contradicting each other. . . . They haven't put together a coherent strategy they can articulate. 

"As [Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson goes to Moscow, the Russians are in a much stronger position. The Russians are aligned with the Syrian government, with the revolutionary guards of Iran and Hezbollah on the ground. They have a position they can hold. The U.S. is really not in the game. So, the secretary – it's going to be tough for him to push the Russians in the directions of international negotiations. The right thing to do, but tough to move the Russians."

He added later, "Tillerson is right. Push the Russians toward international negotiations. It could take years, but you have to start somewhere."

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The United States "had to respond" to the Syrian chemical weapon attack last week, former U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday.
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2017-23-11
Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017 03:23 PM
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