On ABC's This Week, Obama defends Syria policy



President Obama has received some of the most brutal criticism of his presidency with his handling of the situation in Syria. In the new edition of Time, left-center columnist Joe Klein writes that Obama's contradictory positions regarding Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's crossing a red line by using chemical weapons "has damaged his presidency and weakened the nation’s standing in the world, " adding "It has been one of the more stunning and inexplicable displays of presidential incompetence that I’ve ever witnessed."

But the President pushed back by giving yet another television interview on Sunday (after he went on six networks last Monday night), this time to George Stephanopoulous on ABC's This Week.

"Folks here in Washington like to grade on style,” Obama said in response to Stephanopoulos’ recounting of some “armchair criticism” the president has taken. “Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear, they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy. We know that because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq War.”

Some arms control experts seriously question the viability of the deal reached on Saturday between the U.S. and Russia that calls for Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed on destroyed by the middle of 2014. The deal calls for Syria to submit a complete list of its chemical weapons and storage and production facilities within a week. It also calls for "immediate and unfettered" access to chemical weapons by international inspectors.

Obama said "there are a lot of technical issues about getting chemical weapons out, generally. It becomes even more complicated where you’ve got a live war going on." But he added "if we have a verifiable (VOICE) agreement with specific timelines, that the Russians have taken— responsibility for, along with Assad— that, in and of itself, is a very positive development. It becomes much less likely that chemical weapons are used again. And there’s a mechanism whereby the world can potentially hold— hold— Syria accountable."

Under the framework agreement, international inspectors are to be on the ground in Syria by November.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Republican Representative Michael McCaul of Texas said it will be "extremely difficult" to disarm Assad's chemical weapons and asked whether American troops should be used in the disarming effort, McCaul said he would prefer to see Russian troops be used instead.

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