Hillary: If Assad Gave Up His Chemical Weapons, "That Would be an Important Step” Forward

Posted: Sep 09, 2013 5:05 PM

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made some brief and widely anticipated remarks today at the White House about the ongoing crisis in Syria. In short, she reaffirmed her support for President Obama’s proposed resolution to launch limited airstrikes against the Assad regime -- but also said that if the Syrian dictator gave up his chemical weapons, that would be an “important step” forward towards resolving the situation peacefully. CNN reports:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she backs President Barack Obama's push to take military action in Syria.

If Syria's government immediately surrendered its chemical weapons stockpiles to international control, "that would be an important step," Clinton said Monday during an event at the White House. "But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction. And Russia has to support the international community's efforts sincerely or be held to account."

Seven months after leaving her post as the United States' top diplomat, Clinton said she discussed the latest developments in Syria with Obama on Monday.

Among them, she said, was the possibility floated earlier in the day that Syria could hand over control of its chemical weapons.

"It is very important to note," she told reporters, "that this discussion that has taken hold today about potential international control over Syria's stockpiles only could take place in the context of a credible military threat by the United States to keep pressure on the Syrian government as well as those supporting Syria, like Russia."

A potential Democratic contender for president in 2016, Clinton received questions and some criticism for not speaking out immediately after chemical weapons were allegedly used by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Robert Gates, David Petraeus, Leon Panetta and now Hillary Clinton are all former high ranking government officials who now support interventionism in Syria. The problem? Most Americans do not. In fact, a new poll out today shows that almost six in ten are staunchly opposed to the idea. Fortunately for the president, however, there is reportedly a "third way" on the horizon to resolving this crisis: The Russians are urging the Assad regime to put their stockpiles of chemical weapons under the purview of the international community. Of course, it seems utterly implausible (even with extra pressure from the pro-Assad Russian government) that the Syrian dictator would bow or cave to international pressure. But it's apparently not off-the-table. Yet.

Meanwhile, President Obama is still slated to deliver his major, primetime address tomorrow night pushing for military action. We'll see if he successfully rallies the public (and Congress) around him. So far, the odds haven't really been in his favor.

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