Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is still grappling with what role the United States should play in Syria's bloody conflict, which began nearly two years ago and has claimed the lives of 60,000 people, according to a United Nations estimate.
In interviews released Sunday, the president pushed back on criticism from political rivals that his administration has been overly detached from foreign unrest, including the ongoing Syrian civil war.
"Muammar Qaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment," Obama told "60 Minutes."
"Syria's a classic example of where our involvement, we want to make sure that not only does it enhance U.S. security, but also that it is doing right by the people of Syria and neighbors like Israel that are going to be profoundly affected by it," he explained later. "And so it's true sometimes that we don't just shoot from the hip."
Since Syrian rebels first began trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, the United States has waded into the conflict incrementally. In December Obama said the U.S. government would recognize the leading Syrian opposition coalition, though stopped short of saying the U.S. would join other nations like Qatar in providing the rebels with weapons.
The U.S. has provided more than $200 million in funding and humanitarian aid to the Syrian opposition, and has pressed them to establish a leadership structure.
Sixty-thousand people have died in Syria since the uprising began two years ago, and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced, according to U.N. estimates.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appearing alongside the president on "60 Minutes," called the situation in Syria a "wicked problem," but argued there was no clear blueprint for American involvement in the country.
"We are on the side of American values. We're on the side of freedom. We're on the side of the aspirations of all people, to have a better life, have the opportunities that we are fortunate to have here. But it's not always easy to perceive exactly what must be done in order to get to that outcome," she said.
In a solo interview with The New Republic, Obama listed the large questions that must be answered before the U.S. intervenes more substantially in Syria's civil war.
"In a situation like Syria, I have to ask, can we make a difference in that situation?" he told the magazine.
"Would a military intervention have an impact? How would it affect our ability to support troops who are still in Afghanistan? What would be the aftermath of our involvement on the ground? Could it trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons? What offers the best prospect of a stable post-Assad regime? And how do I weigh tens of thousands who've been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?"
"Those are not simple questions," he said, explaining that the aim for his presidency is to make "more right calls than not."
Ultimately, the United States won't be able to "control every aspect of every transition and transformation," Obama told "60 Minutes."
"Sometimes, you know, there'll be unintended consequences," he said.