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Former General: U.S. must pressure Assad into negotiation

June 18th, 2013
05:25 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“If you really want to end the bloodshed over [in Syria], I guess there’s two ways,” Former American General Wesley Clark told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“You could let him finish the job,” Clark said, creating millions more refugees, expanding the violence and sectarian warfare, and giving Iran more power, as he put it. “It’s a very short-sighted way to think you can stabilize the situation.”

The other way, Clark contended, is to “put the pressure on Assad.”

Clark has some experience forcing a strongman’s hand.

In the late 1990s, as supreme allied commander of NATO, General Clark led the bombing campaign of Kosovo that forced Slobodan Milosevic to the negotiating table.

Now, as Assad shows little sign of abating his fight to hold onto power, Clark says that it’s critical the U.S. use all the leverage it can get out of its plans to arm Syria’s opposition.

“Assad should want to negotiate while he’s winning. Right now. Before the leverage has any effect on the battlefield,” Clark told Amanpour. “So for the United States, it’s about putting the leverage in now, and then keeping the leverage going in, torqueing it up, while the negotiations are on.”

Watch the above video to hear why Clark thinks it’s smart for President Obama to play his Syria strategy close to the vest.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Ngoc Tran

    I can totally understand that sometimes, the only way to get both sides to the negotiating table is to balance the military, arm power first. However, as far as I know, this is not the case in Syria as President al-Assad has always and even now still shown interest in peace and negotiation talk with the Syrian opposition and it is the opposition who does not want to attend because they themselves are not united and majority of their members are terrorists and non-Syrian, those who do not have the right to attend the peace talk at all. I believe that the US and the international community only have total rights to arm and support the rebels militarily to balance the arm force, destroy the ruling of dictatorship and oppression, if President al-Assad refuses to conduct a fair election to determine a legitimate, democratic leader for Syria and uses arm forces to win the battlefield instead causing more and more bloodshed. At the moment, to be honest, all I see is that both sides, the government as well as the opposition just want to win using military arm forces with the support from their allies and in the end, only innocent civilians have to pay the most expensive prices for this battle of power here, losing their loved ones, their homes, their lives etc without gaining anything at all. Hope and pray for all the leaders that they will soon find a solution to end this crisis.

    Just listen to another Amanpour's interview today too regarding Russia, disagreeing with the other members of the G8. Someway somehow it reminded me of the debate over whether or not Britain should stay in the EU or not. I think life is about the balance between give and take. If you are over-generous and give all the time without taking anything, soon you will end up having nothing left, but on the other hand, if you just take all the time without wanting to give anything back, soon people will realise that you are nothing but selfish and greedy. Discussion is not about agreeing with each other all the time, but it is about everyone expressing themselves, their opinions and views openly to see all sides of the problem/argument in order to reach the best decision. It is indeed true that life would be a lot easier if there were no one to disagree with you, but bearing in mind, you can always disagree and fall out even with your most loved ones which means without communication, understanding and compromise, the world would end up being divided into millions of parts, fighting and bloodshed would become a norm/daily news because reconciliation would not be considered to be an option.

    June 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  2. jimmy lim

    I beg to disagree. Just bomb and take him out. After 93000 killed you still want to negotiate with Assad? If that is the case, should have negotiate 2 years ago and you save 93000 lives.

    June 19, 2013 at 7:21 am | Reply
  3. Ula Koto

    I don't understand why the President of the United States did not move in quickly. It's too late now. While Syria is the international focus, G8 summit is meaningless when China's Yuan has grown 35 percent stronger than the dollar at this time. So which do they prioritize first ? Let Israel handle their business.

    June 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  4. dean

    How about we simply stay out of this mess. You don't see China spending billions of dollars meddling in others disagreements no matter how violent. Israel is the big loser here, but must do whatever is necessary to provide safety to its citizens.

    June 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  5. rory

    Where this general has been living ? All along Assad wants to talk , it's American don't want to talk. Americans' style of negotiation: I want to talk to you but you have to be dead

    June 21, 2013 at 2:55 am | Reply
  6. rie matsumoto

    Hello,today's watch program.
    Syria:難民人数120万?!周辺国では,財政難.クエート会議での,支援金が届かない?!Syria内戦での周辺国への,影響といい,Syriaは,全てに,おいて,無責任な国だ. Singapore:smog,身体への影響,気をつけて下さい.
    気候変動,そう思います.最終的には,人間のせい.地球上で,今では,森林の,割合が減少,森林伐採が,真っ先に,脳裏に浮かぶ. 海(水)の量が,増えてない?!地盤の低い国の,行く先が,気になる.大丈夫だろうか!?
    Have a nice day)/~rie matsumoto

    June 21, 2013 at 7:27 am | Reply
  7. Reidges

    How about the leave the other country alone option. Did the ex General forget his exposure of the US plan from the 90's and early 2000'ds about it being US policy to force regime change in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and a few other unfortunate Mid East countries? Who's drummer are you puppeting to now General?

    June 21, 2013 at 9:04 am | Reply
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