Romney slams Obama on Syria as U.S. expels diplomats
May 29th, 2012
02:26 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney slams Obama on Syria as U.S. expels diplomats

(CNN) – Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, said Tuesday he welcomed the decision to expel Syrian diplomats from the United States, but that President Barack Obama was weak in his handling of the troubled nation.

"I welcome the expulsion of Syrian diplomats by the United States and other partner nations," Romney wrote in a statement. "But it only underscores the need for more assertive measures to end the Assad regime. President Obama's lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals."

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On Tuesday the United States, along with seven other countries, announced they were expelling Syrian diplomats after a massacre over the weekend in Houla. Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada joined the U.S. in the coordinated move.

The U.S. State Department decided to expel the Syrian charge d'affaires, two State Department officials told CNN. Zouheir Jabbour was called to the department Tuesday morning and was told that he and his family have 72 hours to leave.

He has been the top Syrian envoy in the United States since the ambassador, Imad Moustapha, was called back to Syria in October in a response move after the United States said it was pulling its ambassador out of Syria.

Romney has said in the past that Obama, along with his national security team, are weak in dealing with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In his statement Tuesday, Romney said the U.S. should put pressure on Russia to stop dealing weapons to the Syrian government.

"We should increase pressure on Russia to cease selling arms to the Syrian government and to end its obstruction at the United Nations," Romney wrote. "And we should work with partners to arm the opposition so they can defend themselves."

In the White House briefing Tuesday, press secretary Jay Carney said arming the Syrian opposition could lead to more trouble.

"The concern is that further militarization of the situation in Syria could lead to greater chaos, could make it harder to achieve the political transition that the Syrian people deserve," Carney said. "The nature and shape of and membership of the opposition is still something that we and our partners are assessing and that is another consideration that has to be acknowledged when efforts like that are undertaken."

Romney said over the weekend that the United States needed to take on a bigger role in Syria, writing the killings in Houla signaled it was time for intervention.

"The Assad regime's massacre of civilians in Haoula-many of them young children-is horrific," Romney wrote in a statement Sunday. "After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for the United States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime."

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Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney • Syria
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Christopher Graham

    This is important: Mitt Romney will say that we should do whatever the opposite is that Barack Obama is doing...if we had sent troops, Mitt Romney would say we should pull them out; if the U.S. goes up, Mitt Romney will say we should go down...Romney is not intelligent enough to venture an opinion on the subject of Syria since all he knows is what he has read on the internet...

    May 29, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Winning

    Yep Mitt, we have to make sure we get hastily involved in another country's civil war as quickly as possible. There are no precedents in history to suggest that this is an incredibly bad idea. None at all. Vietnam, easy. Afghanistan, no big deal. Iraq, piece of cake. I agree Mitt, getting involved militarily without a clear objective nor an understanding of the foreign country's internal politics really works out well. Thanks for that advice.

    May 29, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. livefree

    If we were to jump and put boots on the ground without any outside support we would have a disaster on our hands. If you loved the Afghanistan and Iraq war then just wait and see what mitty has in store for you.

    May 29, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. ptw

    Obama has been politically cowardly on this issue, and oddly enough it's largely Bush's fault. Seriously.

    The US is very war-weary, and so the prospect of a non-trivial military intervention–no matter how justified–is going to be viewed as extremely unpopular by the citizenry. So Obama declines to take needed action because he doesn't want it to cost him the election. Political cowardice.

    But why is the US so war-weary in the first place, forcing Obama to not take action? It's because Bush got the US into a totally unnecessary war in Iraq and handled it with incredible incompetence. This simultaneously lengthened the Afghanistan War, and so now everyone is sick of war.

    This shows the danger of getting into unnecessary conflicts like Iraq: it can tie your hands when military intervention truly is needed, and people are dying as a result.

    Republicans are putting up false arguments about taking lesser steps like arming the rebels. All that is going to do is make things worse and get more people killed, not to mention the potential long-term fallout. Either go in strong, or stay out. Giving low-levels of military assistance will just lead to a stalemate in the fighting and nothing gets accomplished while the death tolls rise.

    It's easy for Romney to take potshots from the sideline, saying how he would act more decisively and show more leadership. After all HE doesn't have to deal with the fallout of making those decisions.

    May 29, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Ravelli

    Vote for mitten if you want another two wars that will bleed our country dry. Good-bye Afghan and Iraq hello Syria and Iran!

    May 29, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. Wake up people

    Here we go again.....if the birth certificate thing doesn't work, we will use our old stand by......fear. Wake up people, this country cannot afford another unwinnable war and that is EXACTLY where Mittens is headed. How many more young men and women have to die?? I bet none of his sons will enlist, but he will want ours to. Fellow citizens we have a very intelligent, diplomatic man occupying the Oval Office, let's give him a chance to do even better this time by giving him a congress that cares about the people, not just the party.

    OBAMA 2012!

    May 29, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. FLIndpendent

    This is a repeat of Libya where the Repubs first said Obama needs to intervene, then when he did, they said he shouldn't have done so and he did it without Congress's approval, etc. Why does the U.S. have to go into every country that is having internal turmoil – we need to stop policing the world. Why is it that there is NEVER talk about the cost to go into these countries but when anything is discussed to help our own citizens there's ALWAYS a money problem. I'm so sick of Romney's bashing as he knows nothing of what the President is facing.

    May 29, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. mm

    Hey, Mitt, why don't you and your girly sons boot up and go to war!

    May 29, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Richmond

    It is sickening that Romney took this absolute horrific carnage of people and tried to turn it into a political opportunity. I mean seriously, think about it. Wasn't it just a month ago Romney was slamming Obama for using Bin Laden's death as a political win? A guy responsible for 9/11 and two wars that cost thousands of heroes and trillions of dollars? But dozens of women and children get hacked to death and that is okay to politicize? Think about it.

    May 29, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Linda

    Romney as President will be another President that will get us into Iran, North Korea, and Syria.....but he will use your sons, daughters, grandchildren, neices, and nephews, his sons won't go, nor will the rich and powerful send in their sons or daughters, but it doesn't bother them one bit for the poor and middle class of this country to have to do their fighting and dying......to them when a soldier dies it's just another poor or middle class person that wil come off the Social Security rolls, one less veteran to pay benifits to.....so they can spend more money for more weapons and war equipment to start more Wars.......

    May 29, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    Mitt Romney must be using the Sarah Palin playbook which is attack the president on everything he does no matter what, even if you have NO clue what you're talking about.

    May 29, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. lolo

    @ my view is, I see that you are on the clown train as well. Your comment makes no sense what so ever. Just go ahead and vote for the wimp called Romney. All you care about is getting President Obama out of the white house, no matter the outcome. Stupid is what stupid does. Romney does nothing but lie and you swear it is the truth. As a matter of fact the whole GOP/TP party does nothing but lie, use scare tactics to get their base in line. The hatred in your heart will become your downfall. Like your buddy Norquist has said before they just need a president to sign legislation and the nominee is Mittens Romney. The man has no convictions or backbone. All they have to do is tell Mittens to jump and he will ask how high and comply so that his party wil not be upset with him. A shame that the man cannot speak for himself and a double shame that youare voting for him. Please return to reality, it will do you some good and stop thinking about your self. You are not the only one who pays taxes and in November you will see the truth.

    May 29, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. Independent Voters

    Mitt we need to worry about our own country..Our troops need to be home with there family not in another war.
    Romney you are out of touch with america.

    May 29, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. NYC REPUB

    This man, Is Not fit to tie the Presidents' shoe, & he definitely not fit to comment on foreign affairs.....This imposter, must & will be stopped.

    May 29, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Paqrat137

    We are not the Cops of the World that Romney seems to think we should be. The supposed might of even the threat of the USA getting involved in a conflict does not hold the weight it did. That ended after Korea.

    Our involvement since then has unfortunately demonstrated to our enemies, and our friends alike, that having the USA on your side in any conflict does not guarantee the outcome. Our humiliation in Vietnam, despite the bravery and sacrifice of 53,000+ Americans, the debacle of destroying Iraq, only to squander our treasure on it, the lack of courage in Afghanistan by the Bush administration has made us weary and wary of sending our troops anywhere.

    Romney appears to see the geopolitical situation from the 1950's, 60's, 70's and 80's, where there were good guys and bad guys, where countries were not interlinked by economies and technology, where there were good guys and bad guys. That world does not exist today. Didn't he once recently characterize Russia as an ongoing threat to the USA?

    The steady slow ally building that the Obama administration has been pursuing to meet threats int eh world is the way we need to go. The USA can no longer afford to spend it's fiscal treasure (what is left of it after the Bush Wars) and our human treasure in places where, in the end, our intervention will make no difference, except to the corporations waiting to exploit the lands we pay so dearly for.

    Remember to visit Vietnam on your next cruise! Check the origin of your clothing and shoes, only 53,000 of your fellow Americans died for that privilege

    No more – bring our soldiers home to defend OUR nation first...let other people fight their own battles, we've got more needs here for our citizens!

    May 29, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Steve

    Mr. Romney, why not have your sons volunteer for service in the Army. Then we can go to war in Syria (and, of couse, Syria's backers: Iran, Russia and China). When your sons come back from combat that will probably involve chemical and biological weapons (we know Syria has them), they can educate you as to why our leaders should be very careful about taking this country to war.

    May 29, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. AmericaGetReal

    Its time to understand that the wars we are getting out of has cost america too much money, stopped our growth in its tracks, and seems to have even shattered our domestic policies. We can point fingers all we want but realistically you vote for mitty you are voting for collapse. Lets pls learn from the Romans if not from our own mistakes. Focus Domestic Obama 2012

    May 29, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Joi Gibson

    Please be quiet Willard. All you do is offer ill-informed rhetoric when you do not have all the information. Besides, we all know that no matter what President Obama does, you will disagree with so why bother speaking.

    OBAMA/BIDEN/FIRST LADY MICHELLE 2012!!!

    May 29, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. John

    Mitt Romney is showing his idiot stripes. If he were CIC the BEST he might do is what Obama is doing. Let's hear what he would do different that would work better. And assertive? What, MITT assertive? He has a hard time sounding assertive even with things he might actually control, you think he could push the Russians and Chinese around? HA!

    May 29, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. rs

    Romney is right! He would have just fired them!

    May 29, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    "Hey, dictatorships are people, too."- Mitt Romney

    May 29, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
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