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Henry Kissinger tells Christiane Amanpour: 'I support President Obama' on Syria

September 9th, 2013
03:12 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“We can’t be the world’s policeman,” he told Amanpour, “but we can be the world’s last resort.”

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday that, despite some reticence, he now supports a limited military intervention in Syria.

“I have been against American military intervention, and have said so publically,” Kissinger told Amanpour in New York. “This, however, is a use of weapons of mass destruction, which has consequences beyond Syria. … For that reason, and for the limited purpose of penalizing the use of weapons of mass destruction, I support President Obama’s request.”

Kissinger said that as much as he can, he has urged congress to authorize the U.S. president’s request to use force.

“It would have been a lot better if this had had a formal vote at the UN,” Kissinger said. “But in the last resort, and if the issue is important enough, the United States may have to act – really for the sake of everybody.”

“We can’t be the world’s policeman,” he told Amanpour, “but we can be the world’s last resort.”

Despite his support for an American intervention, Kissinger said he was worried by President Obama’s surprise decision to take his proposal before congress, instead of action without its consent, as the president did in Libya (albeit with UN Security Council support).

“I think it was unwise to put it before the congress,” Kissinger said. “It creates the impression … that the president really doesn’t have the authority to act unless he has congress, and that therefore there’s substantial delay which the congress deliberates.”

President Obama himself, when announcing his intention to take his proposal to congress, acknowledged that he has the authority to act without congressional support, but said that he believed an intervention would be “stronger” and more “effective” with congress’ support.

But Kissinger warned that the very realistic alternative, that President Obama is denied his request for congressional authorization, would set a grave precedent.

It would “be dangerous for the world if the president of the United States were repudiated on a matter that he considers of the importance of the campaign he has now put forth,” he said.

President Obama is seeking to act unilaterally, without UN Security Council support, partly because of the support given to President Assad by Russia – a country with which Kissinger had much experience as a long-serving secretary of state during the Cold War.

“Putin is a man who wants to restore Russia to some respect,” Kissinger said. “But he comes from a country that has a tradition of flexing its muscles. So sometimes the conduct is confrontational.”

Despite being bitter enemies during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were able to develop a kind of détente – a détente that seems to be lacking even now.

“In the end, we and Russia can develop common objectives because where we clash are issues like Syria, where I believe we both should have the same objective,” Kissinger said, “which is the radicalization of the Arab world. Because a radical Arab world will spread over into Russia before it spills over into us.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Syria
soundoff (70 Responses)

    His situation valuation.

    September 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply

    His situation valuation.

    September 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  3. Janaina


    September 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • Jonathan

      Shut up!

      September 10, 2013 at 7:35 am | Reply
    • allenwoll

      YES ! : Shut Up ! !

      September 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • mundilata

      Yes i agree andamerica cant deal with a weak american presidentthat is looking consnsus all the time...

      September 11, 2013 at 10:20 am | Reply
  4. Miko

    Wise words

    September 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  5. saeed

    western and all none muslim cultures are a joke hollow and without any soul dont worry we dont want your ugly face in islam go home to russia kissinger were moore ugly people like you live.

    September 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Reply
    • Nasar

      Saeed, please. If you truly are a Muslim like your fellow brothers you wouldn't place messages like this no matter how angry you are. It is individuals like you that overshadow the goodness of our brothers and sisters. I have plenty of friends from different nations, religions, socio-economic statuses and you know what...WHEN WE BLEED WE ALL BLEED RED. Same for you.

      If you are just some random person who is just using this as propaganda to stir trouble, you are a terrible human being. Yes, terrible. It is people like you keep fueling hatred in this World.

      Remember, what you throw back comes back times 3.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Reply
      • allenwoll

        EXCELLENT Advice ! ! !

        September 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
      • Dude

        If he were a good muslim, he would be obedient to the Koran and kill all non-muslims, especially christians and jews. I'm glad there's not many good muslims!

        September 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

      innocent Muslim dying out of few interest, we have seen his own people protesting they don need him , how many Muslim of Syria are refugee , die, , let US get the hell out of HIM . no right for the president to use chemical weapon on his people meaning his fail his people .. weather is the east, west, north, or south does not matter. may be u talking can be a victim of this chemical weapon

      September 10, 2013 at 4:32 am | Reply
  6. justininrome

    the issue has nothing to do with Congress, or even the US president – the UN Security Counsel or General Assembly only have the legal ability to mandate military intervention in another sovereign country's civil war – without such resolution the military action is illegal

    September 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • Jonathan

      Good point Justin but you fail to realize that the UN has done virtually nothing for decades in terms of substantive action in these kinds of situations! They cant because of countries veto power!

      September 10, 2013 at 7:38 am | Reply
  7. Peke Jacky

    if Kissinger supports Obomba, it is obvious what we should do... exactly the opposite!

    September 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
    • Jonathan

      Peke must be very popular at his/her military school. Tell me do you and your thug friends haze those who wont accept the scripture?

      September 10, 2013 at 7:40 am | Reply
  8. Swuden

    Kissinger should be put on trial at ICC for Nam!

    September 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  9. hopeful

    Kissinger is a war criminal hang him ,what is wrong with reporters why are they interviewing warcriminals

    September 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  10. Swuden

    Agent Orange was a chemical weapon, but U.S. got away with it because it was new at the time and it was not banned for use.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • Jonathan


      September 10, 2013 at 7:41 am | Reply
  11. Engineer Farid Muti

    During Afghanistan war with russian syria support russian not afghanistan

    September 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  12. Dimitrios Gr Stravolemos

    anevakos!new!press!!*! ... anevakos!.. comment... * σχόλιο! ... Χαμένες! .... Πάντα είναι οι μάχες! που δεν δίνονται!.! αι! .. Ε! ... ε! .... μην! κρυβόμαστε,! ...!.! .. anevakos! ..! .. Ο κ.Ομπαμα Προσπαθεί νά Ενώσει Ολους Τούς ανθρώπους γιά νά αντιμετωπισθούν οι Καταστροφικές συνεπειες απο χρήσεις τών χημικών οπλων Πού εχουν εναντιον του ανθρώπου.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  13. Josh

    ....Says one of the most evil politians in US history. You already know Kissingers barbaric actions in Vietnam; now go research his decisions in Laos and Cambodia

    September 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  14. Chris

    Kissinger should be charged for war crimes not asked for his opinions on Syria....

    September 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Reply
    • Lula

      What a disgrace, how can you degrade yourself by interviewing such a creep, are you deteriorating?

      September 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  15. stx

    Kissinger is old id... ottt!!!! viiolance will spark just new violance!!!!! stop US military actions!!!!
    people from Czech – and Slovakia

    September 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  16. Tsdh

    Tell the truth about Syria. CNN.

    People look at storm clouds gathering dot com

    September 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  17. Pete

    Obama is a foreign-policy disaster.

    He would make much more good for America rap-dancing.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  18. Unisecular

    The last para was the key....his sees the arab world as not to be radicalized and rather should be saved from it...but the rest of the world is witnessing the pick era of 'secular radicalization' around the globe...and there's nobody to stop it...but he believes as well as fears that the only 'arab radicalization' aka 'Islam' would be enough to spoil the game of greed, divide and conquer rules of 'Secularism'...thats exactly why he was seeking a common ground with russia and the rest of the other countries, which happens to historically disagree with the philosophy of America...i say both the America and Russia have more uglier and murderous history than the so called 'arab radicalization' stop pretending and start hating 'secularism'...its a pure disease and the world has seen enough of it...period.

    September 9, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  19. Glenn E Stockley

    of course he does....he's one of the biggest war criminals from the second half of the last century.....keep up the flow of propaganda........there are some real journalists left who haven't sold out.....

    September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  20. JAMES


    September 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  21. Denker

    One Nobel Peace Prize winner supports another Nobelist's proposal for war.

    September 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  22. Robert Powell PhD

    Kissinger is a complete idiot and moron who was wrong about pushing starting Wars in Vietnam and Iraq, etc.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:13 am | Reply
  23. Robert Powell PhD

    CNN should be ASHAMED of themselves giving this CREEP KISSINGER any coverage and credibility!
    What kind of lousey PRPAGANDA is CNN putting out?? INCREDIBLE!

    September 10, 2013 at 12:15 am | Reply
  24. infam

    The Red line was a Red Herring! We refuse to be told lies by the people that are supposed to bring us truth! Here is the truth and real news! It's time for our people to wake up, to be shown the extreme and war mongering acts of the US government. Our people need to know that they are about to start a world war!

    Please! This is an urgency of most importance! What you decide may just depict how our future pans out! Are we really going to stand by and allow this corrupt government to send us into World War 3!? As of now, people are blind, they refuse to believe anything bad is going to happen. They have been brain washed and taught for so many years that extreme things don't happen anymore, most outside of the states don't even believe the government are using fully-armed Marines to confiscate weapons in the states. Also that at the same time, they are sending weapons into Syria for none other than the Al Qaeda in order to out-balance Syria and over-weigh its government!

    It's depressing to say the least, people are so blinded and believe to their core that their government are perfect and have only the best intentions, that they have the peoples interests in mind and at heart. But this is far from the truth and this war has been fueling for many a years, it has always been about protecting the dollar, power and about resources! It has never been about weapons of mass destruction! Our soldiers have been dragged into these wars and killed on so many occasions for nothing!

    In my workplace, my company has always said, in case of an armed hold up (as much as this is off topic, it has truth to it), "no amount of money is worth a human life!"

    So where does it stop? How many more have to die to save this precious dollar!!? To give this government more power! It stops when the people know what is going on. It stops when people open their eyes. It stops when people start saying "WE'VE HAD ENOUGH! NO MORE DEATH!". It stops when our media tell us the truth, help open the eyes of those who are blind! Media is supposed to be the governments watch dog not the governments lapdog.

    Make a move citizens of the world, before it's too late, before we lose everything in this selfish war!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:08 am | Reply
  25. elena

    It really sounds wise unless you take into account the fact that the conflict had been brought on by the 'outside powers'. These are the words for the ones who don't look at the heart of the matter(((

    September 10, 2013 at 1:46 am | Reply
  26. OntheBeach

    His last paragraph is the most important and he is correct.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:32 am | Reply
  27. apollo

    Kissinger is right.World can't rejoice cruelity done in syria by Assad.Obama must take action against this.

    September 10, 2013 at 6:49 am | Reply
  28. captainpac

    dog fight!

    September 10, 2013 at 8:06 am | Reply
  29. aktap

    Kissinger is a war criminal, why on Gods green earth would anyone do what that butcher said!

    September 10, 2013 at 9:24 am | Reply
    • Chris


      September 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  30. pieterhcreyneke

    Obama is busy with a home game. He wants to apiece congress. They will not vote for an attack and he can get out of the Syrian "mess". Nobody in their right mind can predict what will happen in the Middle east if Assad falls. He is evil, the other side is just as evil.

    The bottom line is Obama is trying to get congress on his side for votes on policy matters concerning the internal matters of the US.

    The current deployment of weapons is for containment and not attack and to protect the Middle East from the spread of violence should Assad fall or anything unforeseen happens.

    I don't blame him.

    Nobody is wise enough to understand the situation or to predict the outcome.

    If it is true that the US is just stirring things in Syria to prevent the Iran, Iraq, Syrian oil pipeline from being build, then it is another story. (But this pipeline is kind of conspiracy theory stuff)

    September 10, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
  31. Raymond from Sydney Australia

    Hey Henry, what right do you have to talk about one war criminal when you are a war criminal as well? You rot in hell. Every life in Bangladesh, each of three millions lost would count

    September 10, 2013 at 11:09 am | Reply
  32. Saigonist

    If compared with the South Vietnamese people previously, Kissinger would have supported ROV to fight the communist. But he chose the versa action, he sold Vietnam for communist,; Hence, it created the worst and most miserable tragedy for Vietnamese people so far.
    Their Vietnameses'destinies were decided by his evil action!

    September 10, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
  33. M McKenzie

    If Kissinger supports it, then I know it’s the absolutely the wrong thing to do.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  34. Jonathan Onche Edeh

    Kissinger should have been behind bars for his murderous roles in US policies around the world

    September 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  35. dominic

    Chrstiane, do yourself a big favor and interview people with a brain and credibility that are both still intact!

    September 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  36. Betances Albizu

    Why is Amanpour interviewing Kissinger? He is no statesman. Kissinger is a war criminal who should be tried for his crimes at the War Crimes International Court. He is directly responsible for the other 9/11. That is, the violent military takeover of Chile by the blood thirsty dictator Augusto Pinochet. The terrorist acts in the US on 9/11 caused the deaths of close to 5,000. The repression in Chile resulted in the assassination of over 30,000, and further led to the hemisphere-wide assassination program called Operation Condor where victims were persecuted all over the hemisphere and killed by Pinochet's special police. THAT IS HENRY KISSINGER. A close friend of bloody dictators. THAT IS HIS TRUE LEGACY.

    September 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • Ed

      you got that right, a war criminal pimping for another war criminal, spare us

      September 10, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  37. samoosapur

    Amanpour could you please pass this on to Kissinger.

    September 11, 2013 at 2:03 am | Reply
  38. Rufus Reeta

    I am against war/fighting in Syria. But from what i have heard from the Arab league and the evidence possessed by France, UK, USA, Isreal plus the fact that Russia does not deny the use of chemical weapons surprises me what some People are saying in their comments. The fact of the matter is that chemical weapons have been used that should not have been used and that should never happen again. So the five permanent members of the security council should find ways to ensure that those chemicals are never used again. If you are against it, you might as well look forward to a future of chemical weapons stockpiles by rogue states eventually ending in the hands of terrorists like taliban and al-qaeda and other madmen of this world who have lost the ability to be peaceful and joyful and don't care if there is life or not.

    September 11, 2013 at 4:27 am | Reply
  39. Nihal

    Kissinger backing Obama may sound right but please remember that he is a dinosaur from another era.

    He is a war criminal that should have been tried and hanged for genocide & treason. He was Rockefellers puppy. He armed the Iranians to the teeth, was responsible for the massive increases in oil prices that almost scuttled the US and western economies in the 70's and bungled US foreign policy in Latin America.

    But as they say..The Victors Can Write The History As They Wish!

    However the truth still remains.

    I hope the loser reads this!

    September 11, 2013 at 6:06 am | Reply
  40. Special Agent in Charge

    Kill Em All then let GOD sort Em out, that's the American Way! Then after the dust settles, it will be time for a Whiskey for our men and Beer for our horses, that's how we conquered the West, it's called MANIFEST DESTINEY 🙂

    September 11, 2013 at 8:18 am | Reply
  41. acrabahyiouspe

    What does Mr. Geopolitics have to say about helping Al Qaeda and Islamism against Secularism, by weakening Assad? Isn't that self-defeating, Mr. Expert?

    September 11, 2013 at 11:49 am | Reply
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    November 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
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    War criminal Kissinger should had stayed in Germany during WW2

    December 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Reply
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