President Barack Obama does not regret drawing a red line in Syria
and not enforcing it, White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest said Tuesday, as the situation would have been much worse had that happened.
"Even if we had done that, Syria would still have a declared chemical weapons stockpile," Earnest told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program
. "Right now they don't."
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Further, he continued that the United States knows "right now" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "does not have a nuclear weapons pile," and the United States has also "destroyed that chemical weapon stockpile," which means Assad "can't use those against his own people."
He also contended that the weapons will not fall into the hands of extremists so they can't be used by terrorists to fight opponents, including Americans.
The Obama administration worked with Russia to organize the peaceful removal of Assad's chemical weapons, Earnest said, and pointed out that President Barack Obama's meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin allowed both to be "quite candid" while discussing Syria.
Obama on Monday talked about an organized transition to remove Assad from power, while Putin prefers he remain there, but still, Earnest said it's important to note that Russia has acknowledged that political agreement is necessary on the issue.
Also, he commented that Russia understands that with all the challenges faced with standing up to Islamic State extremists, "the political problem is the root problem."
And while there is a tendency to try to make the Putin-Obama meeting personal, Earnest said, "this isn't about trying to keep Vladimir Putin's ego in check — there's no denying it's quite healthy, which is fine."
Instead, he said the challenge is to keep Syria "from descending into total chaos."
It's not there yet, Earnest said, but he thinks it's "pretty close," and while the multi-national coalition has put some significant pressure on ISIS, "ultimately we'll need to find a political solution. There's no denying on what that political solution looks like."
But Obama has decided early on not to commit significant numbers of U.S. military "boots on the ground," and "we're going to need to martial the international community to respond," he continued.
Earnest said Monday was his first time to sit in on an in-person meeting between Obama and Putin, and he described that face-to-face talk as being "not intense, not heated."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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