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Romney campaign: Arm Syrian rebels

July 25th, 2012
06:18 PM ET

By Samuel Burke

The international community’s lack of a coherent policy for Syria’s spiraling situation has now allowed the power vacuum to begin to fill with al-Qaeda elements, a senior intelligence official has told Christiane Amanpour. In addition, Jihadi elements are also working to fill that space.

With the radical presence increasing in Syria, calls for Western help to arm the rebels are growing. Wednesday, Mitt Romney’s Senior Foreign Advisor Richard Williamson, reiterated that the Republican presidential candidate believes the U.S. should openly help arm the opposition – a stance the Obama administration rejects and White House spokesman Jay Carney in late May said would add to the “chaos and carnage” in Syria.

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, Williamson said, “This has gone on for seventeen months and early on Governor Romney said we should have people working with the opposition, trying to identify the moderate forces and help them unify.”

But when Amanpour pressed Richardson on other options to try and weaken Assad, he said Romney is reluctant. “He won’t join his friend John McCain and others who are calling for no fly zones and safe havens.” But he added, “Clearly it’s not something you can put off the table if this goes on.”

Vali Nasr, a former Senior Advisor to the Obama administration admits the U.S. has largely been reactive in Syria. “The conflict keeps metamorphosing into something worse. It goes in new directions, and then we try to come up to answers to what is happening.”

Nasr doesn’t believe the U.S. can continue its policy of non-engagement as Assad continues to lose his grip on power. “The danger now is that the situation in Syria is deteriorating very rapidly, and if we are going to have a policy of reaction to the latest development, then we will be chasing this ball in whatever direction itis going to go and that’s not where we want to be.”

The international community has pointed its fingers at China and Russia for blocking action against Assad by vetoing three resolutions in the U.N. On that matter Romney’s advisor said, “Yes, you work with them. But you don’t allow Russia to determine how the U.S. pursues its interest in Syria and you don’t allow Vladimir Putin to decide if you’re going to protect innocent people in Syria being killed in awful and horrific ways by a regime that’s going out the door.”

Williams echoed a chorus of criticism that is rising against the Obama Administration, accusing the U.S. of using Russia’s opposition to intervention in Syria as a convenient shield to postpone any action until after the November elections.

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Get Over It CNN Assad Is Not Going Anywhere.

    Get Over It CNN Assad Is Not Going Anywhere.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
    • Oh Yes He Is

      Except six feet under with Gadhaffi.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Reply
      • sherman the bedouin

        I had no idea tel aviv was only 6 feet away, the news makes it sound so much further.

        July 26, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Toby

      romney is an idiot worse rthan clinton, God help the world if he gets to power, no doubt he's thick as sh** and a danger to us all! he's probably an islamist fascist in diguise

      July 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
      • Papasan

        There is no god. But you are right about Romney. He'll be a republican religious puppet just like Bush was. They drag us deeper into war where ever they can.

        July 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • PAUL


      July 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • PAUL


      July 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • PAUL

      July 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  2. Abdulkader Hariri

    He just wants to win the Presidency Campaign! I mean they've already been armed with light weapons. Will he arm them with heavy artillery? I doubt it!

    July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  3. Frank Lynn

    Romney thinks a sledgehammer is a great way to kill a fly. Nobody is talking about Darfur, but Syria is treated like a disaster. It's a tragedy, but Darfur is a disaster, and Romney speaks out about something he has no stake in whatsoever. The schmuck will say anything to court the lunatic vote.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  4. jim

    Tall talk for a draft dodger. How about we stay at home and mind our own business?

    July 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
    • ed

      hiding in france for almost 3 years but where is the outrage from Monsenior=Mr. No Spin O'Reilly – tough guy was all over Kerry for his french speaking ways

      July 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
  5. Timus

    Yep Regan armed the rebels and now we call them the Taliban!!

    July 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Reply
    • Dan


      July 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  6. Dan

    Romney would say to do whatever Obama ain't. Duh.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  7. Mike

    Once again a stupid politician who seems to be oblivious to history. Lets look at how well it turned out for us when we decided to supply arms to the Mujahideen in the 80's. Last time i checked those weapons are still being used by Al-Qaeda and Afghans to kill American troops. Romney, your stupidity is just mind numbing.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  8. Partyforever

    The USSR and US both armed quite a few in Southern Africa. 3 million dead and displaced. A solution is not easy.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  9. Pamateur

    Can Russia still help keep Assad's administration in position? If yes, then let's see. If not, (1) Assad should fight to the end – win or lose battle with his own people. OR (2) Assad, his family and close associates should flee to Russia, and Russia should give safe haven to them. (3) Before fleeing, Assad must arrange to transfer ALL chemical and biological weapons to Russia. These c/b WMDs should NEVER slip into the hands of smaller/diverse groups. (4) In fact, it is even time for Russia to take hold of these c/b weapons before these slip into wrong/smaller/dangerous/irresponsible hands.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Reply
    • sherman the bedouin

      that is actually a great idea, don't want chem or bio weapons running around Mali. I can't vote Romney now, and I can't vote for Obama...looks like its mr Paul after all.....RON PAUL AFTER ALL!!!!

      July 26, 2012 at 11:26 am | Reply
  10. Pamateur

    It is time for Russia to decide not to keep his Assad puppet in Syria anymore. After all, he has failed his people. Let the people decide the country's destiny and leadership. Syria deserves Democracy, not Dictatorship. If Russia or China still arm/aid Assad regime, it is fair for the US to arm/aid Syria's opposition groups, however only through NATO's collaboration, and with limited conditions and time frame. Before this arming decision, diplomacy with Russia is highly important.

    July 26, 2012 at 12:05 am | Reply
  11. nestor

    It was article in NY Times yesterday that Al-Qaida infiltrating and high-jacking rebels forces and cause. So Romney want to arm Al-Qaida?
    Another future president want to shoot from the hip?

    July 26, 2012 at 1:34 am | Reply
  12. Kit Gainer

    You arm them rich boy. WE ARE BROKE.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:45 am | Reply
  13. rightospeak

    Not surprized. Romney ,just like Obama, represents the 1% and they want us in endless wars till we collapse.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:03 am | Reply
  14. Toni Law

    Romney is not serious. With Russia and China on the other side of the divide, matters will get out of hand. They will promptly start arming the rebels fighting the US and the West everywhere in the world. Romney has to personally go to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan to see the burning fields. People are dying enmasse in these countries. It is only a matter of time, the path to WW III is being laid. Where is democracy in Katar, UAE or S. Arabia? Let Romney speak out against this dictatorships!

    July 26, 2012 at 4:49 am | Reply
  15. Global Citizen

    Is he serious..yet another politician who thinks no human beings live in such countries ..Arm civilians and what you have is CHAOS and Anarchy after the war ends and the americans leave !! You don't have to go back to the 80's to look at the consequences...last year NATO armed rebels in Libya..yes..Gaddaffi was deposed but now you have guns in the hands of children, teenagers and every other walking soul in the country...small disputes are solved by has become very unsafe in this country and where did some of the guns end Somalia..worsening chaos in that country..arming civilians is not the answer...Iran has been controlled with embargoes and no innocent children die from guns in unsafe would you feel if your child died from a stray bullet? well we feel the same pain too....keep guns out of our countries and we will try and solve our problems no matter how long it takes..we are patient enough...Non-armed civilian transition is the only way to a successful democracy..

    July 26, 2012 at 5:19 am | Reply
    • deal2u

      well spoken

      July 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  16. Joel Edelstein

    The absurdity of it all. The rightwing nuts like to criticize CNN as being pro-Obama, if there ever was a piece of reporting more biased against Obama than this one it would be hard to find. Why not instead of having two people who think they have crystal balls (no pun intended) and that the US should be able to force it's agenda ("interests") on the world have a reasonable person who points out that arming "the moderate rebels" is a very dangerous position indeed. The only thing
    history teaches is that some folks don't learn anything from history. The "gentleman" expounding Romney's "position"
    is an arrogant deceiver trying to hold Obama responsible for deaths to innocent civilians in Syria. He should be held responsible for his irresponsible pontifications. Let's pray that his influence ends in this interview.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:01 am | Reply
  17. DS

    I think you've already armed them only that you're short of making it public. How else do simple people demonstrating on the streets also be able to respond with fire power when the government shoots at them? Thanks Romney for proposing to add more fuel to our already burning house.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:11 am | Reply
  18. sarge

    Send Mitt over there, he will bore them into surrender!

    July 26, 2012 at 8:12 am | Reply
    • Romney Blows

      Nice one 🙂

      July 26, 2012 at 8:19 am | Reply
  19. Romney Blows


    July 26, 2012 at 8:19 am | Reply
  20. scooby

    Let Mit go and fight in Syria and not ask the brave soldiers to do this. Their life is more precious than his.

    July 26, 2012 at 9:46 am | Reply
  21. willie

    Who do you think has been supplying the rebels with weaponry so far? Don't think they've just been saving their money, they've been funded by war pigs since the start.

    July 26, 2012 at 10:33 am | Reply
    • deal2u

      they get their weapons and ammo on line.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  22. TREX


    July 26, 2012 at 10:59 am | Reply
  23. Frank Rizzo

    Sure lets arm the terroist and their buddies and watch the whole place go to hell, what the heck is wrong with Mitt and his wakco advisers? Thank God Im voting for President Obama we need a leader in the whitehouse not some Bush wakco cowboy from the past lol.

    Were not at War with Syria, I dont remember Congress or the Commander In Chief informing us that we are in a State of War with Syria! So lets the Bull and get real here, arming the Terroist and their buddies would hurt our friends in the region besides we will be creating another Iraq type civil war and the only People would benifit from the this civil would be arm dealers and their stock holders, and victims will amount to the thousands if we allow this to move forward.

    July 26, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • deal2u

      you are certainly right.
      First of all Syria is a sovereign nation and the U.S. is not the police force of the world.
      Keep our nose out of where it does not belong!

      July 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  24. Big_D

    So Romney thinks arming people is the way to peace? I guess if he thinks tax cuts for the rich are the way to reduce the deficit this is understandable. Next he will tell you bombing Iran is the way to lower gas prices. Romney would be a joke if he wasn't running for the most important office in the world, but this isn't funny. These are militants and they could be just as bad as the Taliban. Romney, let's stick to arming people we know.

    July 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  25. Big_D

    Sounds like what they did in Afghanistan in the 80's. How did that work out Mitt? Who are the Taliban? When can the GOP run a candidate that isn't a dolt?

    July 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  26. S.R.

    Though an early supporter of the Vietnam War, Romney avoided military service at the height of the fighting after high school by seeking and receiving four draft deferments, according to Selective Service records. They included college deferments and a 31-month stretch as a "minister of religion" in France, a classification for Mormon missionaries that the church at the time feared was being overused. What a coward!!!

    July 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  27. Bill

    Because :

    1. It worked so well when we armed the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviets. Guess what happened to those arms after that war?!!
    2. It worked so well when we armed Iraq under Saddam in the 1980s against his war with Iran. Hello?
    3. It worked so well when we armed groups in Cambodia and Laos against North Vietnam.
    4. It worked so well when we armed the Contra rebels against the Communist Sandinistas.

    Let arm them, it works. Hurrah for the military complex!!

    July 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  28. Adge

    Arming the rebels sounds like a good idea...though one should keep in mind that Al Qaeda is also supporting the rebels. It will make for a strange situation where the Americans, and Al Qaeda, are on the same side. It'll be like old times when Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan and Russia was the occupier.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  29. SomeNameHere

    Romney = idiot. Ya, arm the rebels that you know nothing about and provoke the russians to do the same for the Syrian gov't. Romney = wreckless idiot.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  30. Gulamj

    Its so easy to give solutions from the outside..... Look at Iraq+ Egypt+ Libya... all become havens for the undesirables... lets be cautious and not open the can and not be able to put worms back

    July 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  31. TREX

    .............GREAT JOB's kinda tough to pizz off the Brits..........BUT YOU DID A GREAT JOB OF IT...........maybe when you meet Putin, you can exchange a few nuclear attacks for each other...............frickin mo ron..........

    July 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  32. 8YearOldsDude

    The fact that this bozo is the only thing the idiot Republicans could throw up as a candidate tells you all you need to know about that flailing party. Look for this clown to continue to falter and flail his way to a november loss.


    July 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  33. Frederick

    Christian am suprise by the the said statement you made as an internbational and well renowned jounalist for not taken sides when it comes to international politics. The statement goes..... "The international community has pointed its fingers at China and Russia for blocking action against Assad by vetoing three resolutions in the U.N." which international community do you mean when the UN is dorminated by those 5 countries with veto powers. i would have prefered you said the US and her allies have pointed fingers to Russia and China. Christian as a reminder, the UN general assembly does not take decision when it comes to international conflicts or peace only the UNSC so can you tell me if Botswana or Malawi or Nepal as well as Brazil, India or Greece or cameroon have pointed finger on Russia and china for supporting Asad or did you ever made mention of the international community pointing fingers at the US, and her allies about the attrocities caused in Libya i would be happy if you could open an investigation on this issue

    July 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  34. kdrcreativemedia

    So Romney is endorsing arming terrorists. Great. The rebels include Al Quaeda terrorists. Some of the fighters said they belonged to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. So much for being on the right side of the war on terror! If the situation was reversed and Syria was arming terrorists inside US territory would that be right too??
    He also puts Israels interests (War against Iran and stealing more Palestinian land in breach of the Road Map, UN resolutions) ahead of the US interests (not starting WW3, and a final settlement to the Israel/Palestine conflict) in the Middle East. He is no future president.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  35. Marty Rial

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    January 28, 2021 at 10:07 pm | Reply

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