The Daily Beast reports: Senior White House official Ben Rhodes told Syrian-American activists at a gathering on Wednesday that he was “not proud” of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, according to three people who participated in the interchange.
But Rhodes waved off any suggestion that the United States should be responsible for a conflict that has left millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead, those attendees said.
“We aren’t proud of our Syria policy — but we don’t have any good options… nothing we could have done would have made things better,” Rhodes said, according to three individuals present: Ibrahim Al-Assil, a fellow at the Middle East Institute; Kenan Rahmani, a policy adviser with the Coalition for a Democratic Syria, and a third individual, who requested to stay anonymous.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council disputed the activists’ characterization of the conversation. Rhodes “in no way indicted or distanced himself from our Syria policy,” Price said.
The three activists, as well as a fourth activist, the Syrian American Council’s Omar Hossino, were present for various parts of the conversation with Rhodes. Hossino told The Daily Beast that he began to weep as he told Rhodes about the cost in human life that had taken place as a result of the war, and excused himself from the conversation.
“We’re not the ones killing Syrians. [President Bashar al-]Assad is the one killing people,” Rhodes said, according to three of the individuals present.
It was, as one advocate said, a poor explanation. “It would be as if the Bush administration argued that ‘a hurricane destroyed New Orleans, so it’s not our responsibility,’” Al-Assil told The Daily Beast. [Continue reading…]