President Barack Obama dismissed the idea that arming the Syrian rebels early in the country’s civil war may have prevented today's current crisis, calling it “horses**t,” according to a report.
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about developments in Iraq, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, from his vacation residence in Chilmark, Mass., during his family vacation on the island of Martha's Vineyard. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Syria critique was most recently made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an interview with the Atlantic.
Obama addressed the criticism while growing angry at lawmakers for questioning his actions during a private meeting before the Congressional recess, the Daily Beast reported, citing members of Congress present during the exchange.
One of the lawmakers told the news website that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) asked the president a question that included criticism over Syria. In response, Obama defended his policies and dismissed the idea that arming the rebels earlier would have prevented the current humanitarian crisis, saying it is “horses**t,” the unidentified lawmaker told the Daily Beast.
“The president still feels very strongly that we are deluding ourselves if we think American intervention in Syria early on by assisting these rebels would have made a difference,” Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who said he entered the meeting after the exchange, told The Daily Beast. “He still believes that. I disagree, respectfully. They were not looking for U.S. troops, they were looking for help and the Syria civil war started with the most noblest of causes.”
White House officials confirmed to the news outlet that a tense exchange occurred, but declined to say whether or not Obama used vulgar language.
The president has faced criticism in recent days for not arming the Syrian rebels after Clinton broke with the Obama administration’s stance and said the “failure” to do so created a power vacuum for Islamic jihad.
“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.
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