The Cable

Not everyone thought it was a good idea to arm Syria's rebels

A major policy rift between the White House and President Obama's national security team broke into the open Thursday when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that they had backed a plan, crafted by former CIA director David H. Petraeus, and supported by then-Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, to arm Syria's rebels. But there was one prominent national security advisor who was not part of the intervention faction: Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

On matters of war, Rice, one of Obama's longest-serving foreign policy advisors, has positioned herself close to the president. When it came to Syria, Rice made clear to me during an interview I conducted with her in September for the Washington Post, she was not in the intervention camp. "I'm not of the view that this is a circumstance in which external military intervention is wise for the United States or others," she said.

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