'This Week' Transcript: Stephanie Cutter and Eric Fehrnstrom

WILL: Well, it goes to Syria, first of all, which is the fact, do we want to become involved, as we're withdrawing from two wars in the Middle East, do we -- and that region, do we want to get involved in a third, that is, do we want to get involved in a civil war, in a sectarian tribal society? Governor Romney says we should be taking more assertive action to change the Assad regime. I don't know what that means. The question is, what does it mean?

FEHRNSTROM: I'll tell you what it means, because he -- he spelled it out. There are -- there are two things that we can say about the opposition in Syria. They're very brave, and they're not going away. What they need is the capacity to wage a fair fight.

So what Governor Romney would do is encourage the United States to work with our partners, to identify, organize, and arm the opposition. I mean, these are very brave people, and they're going up against vastly superior forces in Assad's army and have suffered 10,000 losses, just slaughtered by the government.

WILL: But a few decades ago, we armed the opposition to the Russians. We armed the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that didn't turn out so well.

FEHRNSTROM: Well, of course you -- well, of course you have to be careful in -- in selecting your partners within the opposition. But let's step back for a moment, because for the last year-and-a-half, this president has not engaged in organizing moderate forces within that opposition. So to the extent that there's a vacuum that's being filled by bad actors, that is the president's fault.

WILL: But once we start, it's hard to stop. We entered the war -- the civil war in Libya to prevent in Benghazi, one city, a humanitarian disaster. A no-fly zone soon became searching for targets on the ground. We didn't have mission creep; we had mission gallop. And eight months later, we were implicated in changing the regime. How do you stop once you engage?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, the governor's not talking about intervention.

WILL: No one...


FEHRNSTROM: What he's talking about is arming the opposition so that there's a level playing field.

WILL: That's an intervention.

BRAZILE: The chair -- the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and the ranking member believe that that is the wrong strategy, because we simply don't know who they are and exactly what they will do with those weapons. Look, Mr. Assad has turned out to be just like his daddy, a brutal dictator. Kofi Annan has it absolutely right. The Arab League and others in that region have to play a much larger role in trying to end the violence and getting Assad to leave, so the question is not, you know, if he should leave. It's when he should leave.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and the other question is -- I think George Will pointed up a lot of the questions about the governor's plan -- but what more can President Obama do right now to help push Assad out?

CUTTER: Well, we're doing everything possible to isolate that regime, whether it's leading the world to expel Syrian diplomats from our allied countries, you know, tough sanctions on Syria, everything we can to isolate and move the U.N. towards taking action.

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