Retired Gen. Jim Jones, the first of former President Barack Obama's national security advisers, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that the last president's decision to draw a "red line" in Syria was "a colossal mistake.”
Jones, who is widely considered to be among four contenders for President Donald Trump's next national security adviser, told host Jim Sciutto that the Obama administration's failure to enforce the Syrian red line caused a “loss of confidence” in “a very important part of the world.”
"I think at the very least the penalty for [Syrian President] Bashar al Assad for having used chemical weapons on his own people should have been the forfeit of a piece of his territory for -- where refugees could have been handled and might have prevented the flow of refugees into Europe,” Jones said.
In August 2012, Obama used rhetoric indicating he had a "red line" that Syria must not cross as regards Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons. He later backed away from those statements. Some observers believe the backtracking was a result of the Obama administration trying to avoid threatening negotiations with Iran over the Iran nuclear deal as Syria was a regional ally of Iran.
Jones was also asked about the national security adviser position and who might be the right person to fill the seat after the forced resignation of Michael Flynn Monday. Jones said that individual must be "steeped in geopolitics," be a big picture thinker and must "resist getting involved in the tactical operations of our efforts around the world."