Beltway Confidential

Chuck Hagel: I don't trust Syrian opposition

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Foreign Relations Committee,Secretary of Defense,Syria,Martin Dempsey,Chuck Hagel,Chemical Weapons,Bashar Assad

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel acknowledged that he doesn't trust the Syrian opposition, though the top U.S. general argued that a strike on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad ought not be regarded as support for the opposition.

"That's not my business to trust anybody," Hagel said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing when Rep. Tom Marino, R-Penn., asked if he trusts the Syrian opposition. "Every nation, every individual, every group, responds in their own self-interest ... [T]he focus is not on good guys [versus] bad guys."

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried to distinguish between serving as "the military arm" of the opposition and a limited strike on Syria as a response to Assad's decision to use chemical weapons "to clear a neighborhood," as he would any other conventional weapon.

"That runs great risk for Syria, it runs great risk in the region, and the globe," Dempsey said. "We should do something in our national interest based on the use of chemical weapons without committing to supporting the opposition to overthrow the regime."

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