Facing questions from reporters, the President again resisted calls to use U.S forces to stop President Assad’s crackdown in Syria in which 7500 people have been killed.
“For us to take military action, unilaterally as some of you suggested, or to think that somehow there’s some simple solution, I think, is a mistake.”
Mr. Obama said the situation is more complicated than that one in Libya where NATO air power last year helped to protect anti-government forces against the crackdown by that country’s leader Mohamed Gadhafi. The President advocates using economic sanctions and diplomacy to pressure Mr. Assad into step down.
President Obama also defended his use of sanctions to press Iran’s government to give up its pursued nuclear weapons.
“Iran is feeling the bite of the sanctions in a substantial way. The world is unified. Iran is politically isolated.”
Mr. Obama said there’s a window of opportunity in which the dispute with Iran can still be resolved diplomatically. He accused his Republican Party political opponents of beating the drums of war for criticizing his emphasis on diplomacy.
“Those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They are not commander in chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in the war.”
The President said Iran needs to return to negotiations and discuss ways to prove that its intentions for its nuclear program are peaceful. He spent several hours meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, discussing ways to address Iran’s nuclear threat.
On Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said preparations continue for the transition of security responsibilities from NATO to Afghan forces in 2014.
He said he’s concerned about the accidental burning of the Koran by U.S and allied forces, but that resulting violence against Americans is not acceptable.