I'll leave a segment of Barack Obama's interview with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg without much comment for now.
GOLDBERG: Can you just talk about Syria as a strategic issue? Talk about it as a humanitarian issue, as well. But it would seem to me that one way to weaken and further isolate Iran is to remove or help remove Iran's only Arab ally.Obama is not motivated, never has said and likely never will say that he is motivated in Syria primarily by the goal of minimizing the loss of human life.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely.
GOLDBERG: And so the question is: What else can this administration be doing?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, there's no doubt that Iran is much weaker now than it was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. The Arab Spring, as bumpy as it has been, represents a strategic defeat for Iran, because what people in the region have seen is that all the impulses towards freedom and self-determination and free speech and freedom of assembly have been constantly violated by Iran. [The Iranian leadership is] no friend of that movement toward human rights and political freedom. But more directly, it is now engulfing Syria, and Syria is basically their only true ally in the region.
And it is our estimation that [President Bashar al-Assad's] days are numbered. It's a matter not of if, but when. Now, can we accelerate that? We're working with the world community to try to do that. It is complicated by the fact that Syria is a much bigger, more sophisticated, and more complicated country than Libya, for example -- the opposition is hugely splintered -- that although there's unanimity within the Arab world at this point, internationally, countries like Russia are still blocking potential UN mandates or action. And so what we're trying to do -- and the secretary of state just came back from helping to lead the Friends of Syria group in Tunisia -- is to try to come up with a series of strategies that can provide humanitarian relief. But they can also accelerate a transition to a peaceful and stable and representative Syrian government. If that happens, that will be a profound loss for Iran.
GOLDBERG: Is there anything you could do to move it faster?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, nothing that I can tell you, because your classified clearance isn't good enough. (Laughter.)
Do the people of Syria oppose the policies of the Assad government that Obama opposes? Syria's support for Hezbollah and Hamas? There has never been an indication that this is the case.
Do the people of Syria believe Israel is a legitimate state any more than the Iranian people who by a margin of seven to one believe Israel is an illegitimate state that should not exist? There is no reason to believe they do and good reason to believe they do not.