President Obama on Sunday saluted the Russia-Syria chemical weapons pact. Obama said the pact is a good “foundation” that could lead to a political settlement of the civil war which has killed tens of thousands of people over the last two years.
While Obama hailed the Syrian pact he also said the US was in a “better position’ to prevent President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from using chemical weapons on his own people.
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos Obama added:
“Look, we’re not there yet. We don’t have an actual, verifiable deal that will begin that process. But the distance that we’ve traveled over these couple of weeks is remarkable.”
President Obama also took credit for applying pressure to Syria and then backing off from a military strike.
“Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy,” Obama said. “We know that, because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq war until it ended up blowing in our face.”
President Obama also said his administration didn’t want to start a war and that they were ultimately focused on applying pressure to Syrian officials over the last two weeks.
“If that goal is achieved, then it sounds to me like we did something right,” he said.
When asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin was “playing” him from the start President Obama responded:
“I welcome him being involved. I welcome him saying, ‘I will take responsibility for pushing my client, the Assad regime, to deal with these chemical weapons.’ “
President Obama recognized recent disagreements between the United States and Russian but admitted that the two countries can still work together despite differing values.
“I know that sometimes this gets framed or looked at through the lens of the U.S. versus Russia, but that’s not what this is about,” Obama added.
In his weekly video address President Obama spoke in length about pursuing a diplomatic solution in Syria: