Meet the Press   |  September 08, 2013

McDonough responds to criticism of administration

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough defends the Obama administration's foreign policy practice from conservative critics.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> before you go, i want to allow you to respond to some criticism that has come from the right, a consistent critic, columnist charles krauthammer in "the washington post " really summing up some of the criticism against the president. i'll give you a chance to respond. i'll put it on the screen. assad has to go, says obama , and then lifts not a finger for two years. obama lays down a red line and then ignores it. shamed finally by massive poison gas attack, he sends kerry to make an impassioned case for retaliation and the very next day obama undermines everything by declaring an indefinite time-out to seek congressional approval. the stunning zigzag following months of hesitation, ambivalence, contradiction and studied delay left our regional allies shocked and our enemies gleeful.

>> a couple things. the president has led the international community and bringing to bear sanctions, travel bans, and greater isolation for them. but what we've learned is that is insufficient to stop them from using these dastardly weapons. and so it's a very precise question. he, having used these weapons, should be held to account. that question is before congress this week. and it's an opportunity for all of us. we're in partnership. we're stronger and i think charles krauthammer as well as anybody else would recognize that congress working together with the president makes us stronger and sends a very clear signal to damascus, tehran and beyond.

>> victory in syria means that assad can never use chemical weapons again.

>> victory in this targeted effort means that he is degraded from being able to do it again, and he is deterred from doing it again. ultimately resolution of the wider conflict, that's an issue for syrians to resolve. we will continue to support the moderate opposition in ways that the president has already laid out to the country. so we will resolve -- help them resolve it, but that's theirs to resolve. we have a very narrow issue here. that we need to address. which is the use of these dastardly weapons which have not been used against our guys in nearly 100 years. we want to make sure that continues.

>> the debate goes on. i appreciate your time very much.

>> thanks, david.