After a massacre of civilians on Friday night in Syria — including dozens of children — which the U.N. strongly hinted was perpetrated by government forces, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney blamed the Obama administration for not taking decisive enough action against the Syrian regime.
The plan Romney and his aides proposed to deal with the crisis, however, sounds a lot like the one Obama administration officials discussed with press just a few days before. “The United States should work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves,” the campaign said in a release on Sunday. On CNN this morning, top Romney aide Andrea Saul echoed the call, saying that Romney would “work with our allies to help arm the Syrian opposition.” Watch it:
If all that sounds familiar, it might be because, three days before the Romney statement, that’s exactly what Obama administration officials told the AP they were setting a plan in motion to do. The AP reported:
[T]he Obama administration is preparing a plan that would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.
The effort, U.S. officials told the Associated Press, would vet members of the Free Syrian Army and other groups to determine whether they are suitable recipients of munitions to fight the Assad government and to ensure that weapons don’t wind up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked terrorists.
As for the goal of pushing for a transition in Syria, the New York Times reported on Saturday — the day before Romney’s statement — that “ President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.”
The Romney campaign “doesn’t want to really engage” on foreign policy issues. Perhaps that’s because so many of his proposals sound like what the Obama administration is already doing — albeit with more hawkish bluster. Last month, Vice President Biden, while criticizing Romney’s “loose talk of war,” noted that, other than the rhetoric, the policies were the same: “Governor Romney has called for what he calls a ‘very different policy’ on Iran. But for the life of me it’s hard to understand what the governor means by a very different policy.”