Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, questions Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the Obama administration's Syria policy.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been working to finalize a ceasefire between Russia, Syria and American-backed forces since February. The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that President Obama's top military and intelligence advisers were presuring the White House to come up with a 'Plan B' to counter Russia in Syria, in case the ceasefire fell apart.
Violence has continued to plague Syria, and U.S. and Russian forces have both violated the ceasefire multiple times.
Corker repeatedly asked Blinken to explain what the backup plan was, and Blinken repeatedly failed to give an answer. Eventually, Blinken explained that the 'Plan B' was still being conceived: "The president has asked all of the agencies to put forward options, some familiar, some new, that we are very actively reviewing. When we are able to work through these in the days can ahead, we’ll have an opportunity to come back and talk about them in detail."
Corker summed up the back-and-forth: "Okay, so let me just say what we already know. There is no Plan B."
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN): There have been discussions of a 'Plan B.' Sec. Kerry talked to many of us in Munich in February about the [cease-fire] discussions. There was going to be a Plan B if they failed. I've never seen signs of a Plan B. I know Russia and Assad don't believe there is a Plan B. Iran doesn't believe there is a Plan B...
How can a Secretary of State have any chance of success in ending the murder, the torture, the rape of innocent people, the killing of young people. How can a Secretary of State have any chance of success when the White House is unwilling, at any level, to have a backup to what he is doing if diplomacy fails?
ANTONY BLINKEN, STATE DEPT.: Mr. Chairman, on all of these isseus, including Syria, we work through a cery deliberative process, including all of the agencies, that are relevant to the issue... And we try to work through these things deliberately and make the best possible assessment... and to evaluate the benefits and risks of any course of action... In the case of Syria, first it is useful to step back, and ask ourselves this question: How do civil wars typically end--
CORKER: I don't want a history lesson.
I’d like to understand what Plan B is, the mysterious Plan B that’s been referred to since February. The mysterious Plan B that was supposed to be leverage to get Russia to quit killing innocent people. to get Assad to quit killing innocent people. Just explain to us the elements of Plan B.
BLINKEN: Plan B is the consequence of the failure, as a result of Russia’s actions, of Plan A. What is likely to happen now if the agreement cannot be followed through on and Russia reneges totally on its commitments--
CORKER: Which it has.
BLINKEN: It appears to have done. This is going to be bad for everyone, but it’s going to be bad first and foremost--
CORKER: I want to hear about Plan B. I understand all the context here.
BLINKEN: I think, sir, this is important because Russia has a profound incentive in trying to make this work. It can't win in Syria, it can only prevent Assad from losing. If this now gets to the point where the civil war actually accelerates, all of the outside patrons will throw in more and more weaponry against Russia, Russia will be left propping up Assad in an ever smaller piece of Syria.
CORKER: All of us understand all that. What is Plan B? Give me the elements of Plan B.
BLINKEN: Two things: Again, the consequence to Russia, as well as to the [Syrian] regime will begin to be felt of Plan A not being implemented because of Russia's actions.
As I indicated, the president has asked all of the agencies to put forward options, some familiar, some new, that we are very actively reviewing. When we are able to work through these in the days can ahead, we’ll have an opportunity to come back and talk about them in detail.
CORKER: Okay, so let me just say what we already know. There is no Plan B... Diplomacy without any plan for failure is something that can not be successful.