Richard Haass reacts to mixed White House messages on Syria

Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, talks to "GMA" about the U.S. airstrike in Syria, next steps for the Trump administration and the risk of sparking a larger conflict with Russia.
2:44 | 04/11/17

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Transcript for Richard Haass reacts to mixed White House messages on Syria
Let's get more from Richard Haass, the president of the council on foreign relations and author of the new book "A world in disarray." That word disarray can apply to what the administration is saying about a Syria policy. It's been all over the place. Clearly they want to properly, I think, strongly react to the use of chemical weapons. When you talk about regime change there is an enormous gap between where we want to go and where we are and the capabilities it would take. Not only what Sean spicer said yesterday about now maybe retaliating for barrel many Bos the secretary of state we rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who account crimes against the innocents anywhere in the war. Preet sweeping. Bear any burden. You have to narrow it down. The United States can't if you will become the policeman of the world. There is an awful lot of places where governments are acting really badly towards their own people and you've got to be much more narrow. You've got to side where your vital interests are at stake. Where you can use military force in ways that will make a difference at a cost you're prepared to pay. How about this showdown in Moscow again. We saw that one report that Moscow may have known about the chemical weapons attack, if they did, how much of a game changer is that? It's not. It's just another reminder that Russia is an outlier. It's not as though we need new information. This is a country that went into Ukraine, took over crimea and allowed bashar Al Assad to use chemical weapons and interfered in our own elections. Russia is a spoiler, an outlier. A remainder of who we're dealing with and under Vladimir Putin you have somebody who has enormous discretion to do what he wants to do often which is quite problematic. How do you deal with it? As I said earlier there's some concern that president trump, the secretary of state would be soft on Putin. Taking a much tougher line right now but it's at a time where our relations according to the Russians are worse than they were during the cold war. What you've got to do is two thing, set the table. We've got to create a context with the Russians know they can't use military force and easily get away with it so did a little in Syria -- I mean strengthening nato so Russia isn't tempted to invade any other country and have to be careful with our rhetoric. We don't want to humiliate the Russians or paint them into a corner. Is there a way to pull Putin away from Assad. Mr. Putin is many things. Sentimental is probably not one of them so, sure, I think what we want to do is try to drive a little wedge between Iran who is Syria's principal backer and the Russians and talk to them what's your long-term interest. Can you protect your long-term interests in a way that you separate yourself from Assad? It'll take several years but we ought to begin that process? Richard Haass, thanks for coming in.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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