During the recent vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan blamed former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for not being able to resolve the escalating conflict in Syria.
On a CNN interview to be aired Sunday, Annan struck back saying, "He was dead wrong. He was dead wrong."
At the debate, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Vice President Biden, "In March of last year, President Obama explained the military action taken in Libya by saying it was in the national interest to go in and prevent further massacres from occurring there. So why doesn't the same logic apply in Syria?"
When Ryan got his chance to respond, he said:
How would we do things differently? We wouldn't refer to Bashar Assad as a reformer when he's killing his own civilians with his Russian-provided weapons. We wouldn't be outsourcing our foreign policy to the United Nations, giving Vladimir Putin veto power over our efforts to try and deal with this issue. He's vetoed three of them. Hillary Clinton went to Russia to try and convince him not to do so; they thwarted her efforts. She said they were on the wrong side of history. She was right about that. This is just one more example of how the Russia reset's not working.
And so where are we? After international pressure mounted, then President Obama said Bashar Assad should go. It's been over a year. The man has slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people and more foreign fighters are spilling into this country. So the longer this has gone on, the more people — groups like al-Qaida are going in. We could have more easily identified the Free Syrian Army, the freedom fighters, working with our allies, the Turks, the Qataris, the Saudis, had we had a better plan in place to begin with, working through our allies. But no, we waited for Kofi Annan to try and come up with an agreement through the U.N. That bought Bashar Assad time. We gave Russia veto power over our efforts through the U.N. and meanwhile about 30,000 Syrians are dead.
Annan was assigned as the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria in February, and had resigned in August after not accomplishing what had been hoped.
On Sunday, Annan told CNN's Fareed Zakara, "It is a piece of unmitigated nonsense, in effect, saying, 'Don’t even try to resolve it peacefully, don’t give the Syrians hope. Give weapons and let’s kill each other.”
“You know who said that?" responded Zakaria. “At the vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan named you and he said the administration put their faith in Kofi Annan and that was the problem.”
“No," answered Annan. "And he was dead wrong. He was dead wrong. Honestly, this is one of the first situations where I’ve seen people claim that attempt to mediate complicates or allows more killing to go on. And in almost every situation, we try to find a peaceful solution. If it works, well and good. You save people."
With the final presidential debate Monday, it seems a metaphysical certitude we haven't heard the end of this.