Rice: United States is leading with ‘lethal and non-lethal’ aid to Syria
June 6th, 2014
11:56 AM ET
5 months ago

Rice: United States is leading with ‘lethal and non-lethal’ aid to Syria

Colleville-sur-Mer, France (CNN) - Defending President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as one of global leadership – rather than the passive stance his critics portray – National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Friday the United States was taking important steps in Syria by offering both "lethal and non-lethal" aid to the moderate opposition fighting a bloody civil war.

“The United States has been the single largest contributor of humanitarian assistance, providing over 1.7 billion dollars,” she said in an interview with CNN. “That's why the United States has ramped up its support for the moderate vetted opposition, providing lethal and nonlethal support where we can to support both the civilian opposition and the military opposition.”

The Obama administration has said it wants to work with Congress on ramping up support for Syria’s opposition forces, which have been battling President Bashar al Assad for three years. The United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in nonlethal aid and humanitarian assistance since the war broke out in 2011.

In a speech last week at West Point, Obama said he wanted to increase support to rebels “who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators.”

But there are concerns that some forces fighting against Assad could be aligned with terrorist groups, including the jihadist Al Nusra Front. Those concerns have thus far prevented any public announcements of lethal aid to Syrian rebels.

Following Obama’s speech at West Point, officials said they were working with Congress to approve the increased support. They said lawmakers’ approval might be required under the War Powers Act.

Rice said on Friday the United States was working with Syria’s neighbors to help alleviate the dire situation of refugees, as well as working to confront an increasing threat that Syria’s becoming a hotbed for terrorists.

“We're working on the counterterrorism challenge because as we have seen there are increasingly emanating from Syria the threat of terrorism to the neighbors and beyond,” she said.

“Our efforts are increasing and why we'll remain very much engaged, both in trying to support the Syrian people and trying to support the Syrian opposition,” she continued.

Critics have cited Obama’s record in Syria as evidence of a failed foreign policy, saying his decision to forgo air strikes after Assad deployed chemical weapons displayed weakness to rivals.

Rice countered those claims by pointing to still-strong alliances between the U.S. and partner nations.

“I don't think the criticism has been fair,” she said. “I think the fact of the matter is we're living in complex times, there are many different challenges that the United States and the world faces. But our leadership is unmatched. Our role is indispensable.”

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Filed under: Foreign Policy • President Obama • Susan Rice • Syria
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I don't think the U.S. should offer lethal aid to Syria, at all. Syria is Russia's spawn, which means it's their problem to fix, not ours or the rest of the world. America has no business picking winners and losers in Syria. Let them figure it out for themselves, which is what the really want to do, anyway. They don't want anyone telling them how to run the lives no more than we would someone doing that to us.

    June 6, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Lily

    I have come to notice something. You just put a face of Susan Rice in whatever topics, it clicks the mind of republicans and take them to Benghazi. The same for Dems. You show the face of "W" it takes them directly to Iraq war. These two faces are taken as unwanted faces to both parties. One has to think deeply using these two faces. Am I right or wrong?

    June 6, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Donna

    The Obama administration has said it wants to work with Congress on ramping up support for Syria’s opposition forces,
    ----

    You mean the very same Congress youy have spurned, insulted, ignored and failed to work with for 4 years now? Obama has poisoned the well, burnt so many bridges, and proven he is not to be trusted. Now all of a suden he thinks people will want to work with him after the spit of the Obama administration is still fresh on Congressional faces for refusing to notify them about Gitmo releases for 5 high level enemy terrorist leaders?

    It is pretty clear Obama doesn't have a clue of relationships, building them, maintaining them, etc.\

    June 6, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. g

    looks like the cia has done their job and made a money maker for the military industrial complex

    June 6, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Marty

    It is difficult to believe this woman. I just don't have the confidence in what she says is accurate.

    June 6, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Obama has gotten us into wars in both Libya, and Syria, contrary to what most people realize.

    He has also sent our troops into several African countries, on missions.

    Obama is far from a guy who doesn't get involved in wars...........he just pretends he doesn't.

    June 6, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. smith

    Dumb move by the Obama admin. giving the rebels anything. 90% of the terroist who are waging a jihad against the US are Sunni. The rebels in Syria are Sunni, AQ are Sunni, Saddam was a Sunni, and the forces that manily fought in Iraq were Sunni. Yes, we issues with some Shia` groups(i.e. Hezbollah and Iran) but most of the time it s radical Sunni.

    June 6, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    The Obama administration has said it wants to work with Congress on ramping up support for Syria’s opposition forces,
    --

    You mean the very same Congress you have spurned, insulted, ignored and failed to work with for 4 years now? Obama has poisoned the well, burnt so many bridges, and proven he is not to be trusted.
    =======================================================
    The administration has invited Republicans to the White House for various reasons, including State Dinners, which Republicans have consistently failed to follow up on. Why? Probably because of outside groups promising to primary people if they're caught on camera entering or leaving the White House. This cold shoulder by the Republicans began on Day One of his administration. Republicans didn't even show up at some of the inauguration balls and parties,.

    But, I understand the source of your frustration. Sen. McConnell's plan failed. Pres. Obama was re-elected. Why? In large part because of the effort by the right wing to make sure that he wouldn't be re-elected. Isn't that ironic?

    June 6, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    The PRESIDENT's decision to forego air attacks in Syria has resulted in :The Removal of Chemical Weapons(a few small instances) from the Battlefield. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

    June 6, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. sonny chapman

    Rick McDaniel- Obama,even speaking at Oslo at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, has said sometimes War is necessary. During his 2008 Campaign he said that he wasn't against ALL War, just Dumb Wars. He also said, during the same Campaign, he would go into Pakistan , w/oot their permission, to take out Bin Laden. Stop misquoting the PRESIDENT to support your own Narrative.

    June 6, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Dean

    She lies as bad as Obama...that's why she was promoted. There seems to be a common denominator...

    June 6, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. sonny crapman

    sonny chapman
    The PRESIDENT's decision to forego air attacks in Syria has resulted in :The Removal of Chemical Weapons(a few small instances) from the Battlefield. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
    --

    You mean Putin's leadership right? It wasn't Obama's idea. He wanted to attack but was too afraid to do it on his own and then got showed up by Putin. All resulting in keeping Putin's man Assad in power to continue to kill his people.

    Nice try though, but people know better than to believe lies like the ones you post.

    June 6, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    sonny chapman

    The PRESIDENT's decision to forego air attacks in Syria has resulted in :The Removal of Chemical Weapons(a few small instances) from the Battlefield. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
    ------------------------------------
    Uh, I don't think Pres. Obama made such a decision. I seem to recall that he put it before the Congress, and the idea did not get enough votes to pass.

    But, the Republicans want us to forget all about that. Their narrative says Pres. Obama blinked, lied, or whatever when it came to responding to Syria crossing the line he had drawn. They want us to forget that the issue was put before the Congress, where military action of any kind was voted down. They want to blame Obama for breaking a promise, and projecting weakness on the world stage.

    June 6, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Donna

    Oh honestly Rudy, you aren't trying to sell the whopper of Obama knowing how to develop relationships are you? This is the guy that invites Republicans to events, sits then in the front row, then proceeds to attack and insult them., Obama is the guy that openly attacks and ridicules Supreme Court justices on national TV. Obama is guy that attacks and demonizes large segments of our economy and then wonders where all the jobs are.

    The guy is a personal relationship DISASTER than even Dr. Phil couldn't help!

    June 6, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. rs

    Donna

    The Obama administration has said it wants to work with Congress on ramping up support for Syria’s opposition forces,
    --

    You mean the very same Congress youy have spurned, insulted, ignored and failed to work with for 4 years now? Obama has poisoned the well, burnt so many bridges, and proven he is not to be trusted. Now all of a suden he thinks people will want to work with him after the spit of the Obama administration is still fresh on Congressional faces for refusing to notify them about Gitmo releases for 5 high level enemy terrorist leaders?

    It is pretty clear Obama doesn't have a clue of relationships, building them, maintaining them, etc.\
    ___________________________
    January 9, 2009 John Boehner and Mitch McConnell met in the Capital to discuss plans on how to make the President "fail" and be a one-term President by blocking each and everyone of the President's initiative. Use logic, Donna, this one is hard: Who poisoned the well?
    Face it, Congress will even filibuster its own bills to prevent anything happening in this nation. Your party is addicted to breaking the machinery of government.

    June 6, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    Obama has gotten us into wars in both Libya, and Syria, contrary to what most people realize.

    He has also sent our troops into several African countries, on missions.

    Obama is far from a guy who doesn't get involved in wars...........he just pretends he doesn't.
    ________________________
    Do tell, Rick- what is our troop strength in Libya and Syria?

    June 6, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. John

    CNN – May 28, 2014

    "National Security Adviser Susan Rice told CNN that sending weapons and ammunition to Syrian opposition groups would need "the authority and blessing of Congress."

    CNN – June 6, 2014

    "Defending President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as one of global leadership – rather than the passive stance his critics portray – National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Friday the United States was taking important steps in Syria by offering both "lethal and non-lethal" aid to the moderate opposition fighting a bloody civil war."

    June 6, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Tony D

    rs
    Do tell, Rick- what is our troop strength in Libya and Syria?
    -–

    We don't send troops to Libya, just defenseless unprotected Ambassadors to be slaughtered. I'll bet he sure wishes he had been given the troops/protected he requested. But Obama and Clinton decided it was just too high a profile. Result = four dead Americans.

    June 6, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Do tell, Rick- what is our troop strength in Libya and Syria?

    They can't tell the difference between their GI Joe dollies and real life, man. Let it go.

    June 6, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    @rs
    Donna

    The Obama administration has said it wants to work with Congress on ramping up support for Syria’s opposition forces,
    -

    You mean the very same Congress youy have spurned, insulted, ignored and failed to work with for 4 years now? Obama has poisoned the well, burnt so many bridges, and proven he is not to be trusted. Now all of a suden he thinks people will want to work with him after the spit of the Obama administration is still fresh on Congressional faces for refusing to notify them about Gitmo releases for 5 high level enemy terrorist leaders?

    It is pretty clear Obama doesn't have a clue of relationships, building them, maintaining them, etc.\
    ___________________________
    January 9, 2009 John Boehner and Mitch McConnell met in the Capital to discuss plans on how to make the President "fail" and be a one-term President by blocking each and everyone of the President's initiative. Use logic, Donna, this one is hard: Who poisoned the well?
    Face it, Congress will even filibuster its own bills to prevent anything happening in this nation. Your party is addicted to breaking the machinery of government.
    ----------–
    This has been a laughable conservative ploy. It is not even a good come back really. GOP members swore in public on on paper in their own words to NOT work with Obama. Donna is a classic conservative history revisionist.

    June 6, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "CNN – May 28, 2014

    "National Security Adviser Susan Rice told CNN that sending weapons and ammunition to Syrian opposition groups would need "the authority and blessing of Congress."

    CNN – June 6, 2014

    "Defending President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as one of global leadership – rather than the passive stance his critics portray – National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Friday the United States was taking important steps in Syria by offering both "lethal and non-lethal" aid to the moderate opposition fighting a bloody civil war."
    ====

    Cute, John, but you failed to read and comprehend the rest of the article and therefore just made a very broken attempt at "gotcha." Lethal aid is not being given without Congressional involvement and approval:

    "The Obama administration has said it wants to work with Congress on ramping up support for Syria’s opposition forces, which have been battling President Bashar al Assad for three years" and

    "Following Obama’s speech at West Point, officials said they were working with Congress to approve the increased support. They said lawmakers’ approval might be required under the War Powers Act."

    June 6, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Bill from GA

    Reagan gave chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein in 1988, and he is a Top hero to the righties.
    If Obama gives aid in Syria, and one stick of chewing gum winds up in enemy hands, righties will call for his
    impeachment.

    Go for it, Barry. Do the Right thing. Show em who's Boss.

    The humanitarian crisis in Syria is as much a place for American involvement as anywhere in the World. If we can't step in there, we should just cut our military to one THIRD of its current size and stay home from any problem.

    June 6, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Bill from GA

    Lily – " ... You show the face of "W" it takes them directly to Iraq war "

    Gee, I don't know, Lily. When I see "W", I think of World Economic Collapse.
    Now, if I saw cheney's face, I might think of 'Iraq War'.

    June 6, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. smith

    So Susan Rice is bragging about aiding a group that -1.are terrorist 2. beheaded a catholic priest 3. committed an act of cannibalism. This woman is beyond the realm of stupid.

    June 6, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. Ol' Yeller

    @TonyD
    "But Obama and Clinton decided it was just too high a profile. Result = four dead Americans."

    Yes, I remember when the House voted to provide them with unlimitted monies for our Embassy Security and Obama and Hillary said, "Nah, we'd rather have a good friend of ours die rather than take away any of the uber weatlthies tax cuts.
    Oh but wait... it wasn't like that all, was it?
    faux fed lies- turn the channel, read a book, do something, man....

    June 6, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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