Bloodshed in Syria — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 4/23/2012

Apr 23, 2012 3:45pm

TAPPER: On Syria, there have been reports that the opposition is running out of ammunition while, of course, the Syrian government, enjoying relationships with Iran and Russia, does not have that problem. Is it time, finally, for the international community or for the United States more specifically to seriously consider arming the rebels there? Or do you think — does the president think that the Annan plan still needs time to try to work itself out?

CARNEY: Well, as you know, we voted in favor of the U.N. supervision mission in Syria — the vote establishing that and expanding it, and we believe it can help decrease the violence and lay the foundation for Syria’s political transition.

But we are sober about the risks and very clear-eyed about Assad’s behavior with regard to the Annan mission and its failure to fully commit to a cease-fire or honor the other provisions of the plan, the Annan plan.

We still do not believe that contributing to the militarization of Syria is the right course of action at this time. We are working with our partners and allies, as part of the Friends of Syria but also at the United Nations, to further isolate and pressure Assad and to make clear to everyone that siding with Assad is making a bad choice, a choice that will not wear well as time passes, because Assad has brutally murdered his own people. His regime will come to an end. It’s a matter not of if, but when.

We believe that the measures we’re taking, working with the international community, assisting the opposition establish itself, providing humanitarian and other nonlethal aid to the Syrian people, is the right course of action to take. But there is no question that Assad’s brutality has not — has not ceased, even as it has abated at times during the course of the implementation of the Annan plan.

TAPPER: In response to the president’s speech this morning and the — and the discussion of the Atrocities Prevention Board, Senator John McCain suggested that there was a very — a great significance — similarity between Bosnia during the Clinton era and Syria today, and that in his view thankfully President Clinton came around to arming the victims (and ?) the opposition in the former Balkans, and that hopefully the president would — President Obama would step up and do the same. Does President Obama consider there to be any similarity?

CARNEY: Well, I have not seen Senator McCain’s comments making that comparison to Bosnia, so I — and I haven’t had that conversation with the president. I think that the president is extremely concerned about the appalling brutality that Assad has perpetrated on his own people. He has made clear, as have I and others when we talk about the actions that we can take in response to different situations in different countries, that there is not a cookie-cutter approach, that the actions we were able to take when Gadhafi’s forces were on the verge of overrunning Benghazi and, in his own words, killing the residents of Benghazi, the Libyan people there, that we were able to, because of a broad consensus and a very specific mission that was open to us, take direct action that prevented the overrunning of Benghazi and eventually prevented Gadhafi from taking over the country again.

So the president said today at the Holocaust Museum in his speech that we cannot — we have to do everything we can to prevent these kinds of atrocities. It does not mean that in response to every action, using our military is the right answer. We cannot do that, and we should not do that in response to every action. There are other tools that we have, and we have to use them. And right now that is the case with regards to Syria, and that’s the approach we’re taking.

-Jake Tapper

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