From yesterday’s State Department press conference, regarding (1) a leader who is a key ally of Iran; and (2) a leader of a country of limited strategic significance – both of whom are presently killing their citizens to stay in power:
QUESTION: Do you feel that we are reaching a tipping point where you have perhaps to declare that Mr. Assad should step aside?
MS. NULAND: The Syrian Government has declared an interest in having a national reconciliation dialogue. So on the one hand, they claim to be talking the talk, but the walk we see them walking outside of Hama, et cetera, belies their interest in really having a national reconciliation dialogue, so we’re concerned.
QUESTION: What signs would there have to be by the Syrians to show that they are genuinely interested in pursuing talks with the opposition?
MS. NULAND: As we’ve said, we’d like to see their forces pulled back from cities, from the border. We’d like to see the violence stop. We’d like to see peaceful demonstrators allowed and we’d like to see a real dialogue begin. We want to see political prisoners released. We want to see repression and torture ending in Syrian jails.
Got it: pull back forces, stop the violence, release political prisoners, end the repression and torture, and begin a “real dialogue.” Check, check, check. No need for Mr. Assad to step aside.
QUESTION: It was reported today that Qaddafi has opened [a] line of dialogue with the opposition. Do you support such calls?
MS. NULAND: We’ve heard lots of reports of this kind – Qaddafi’s talking, Qaddafi’s not talking, Qaddafi’s leaving, Qaddafi’s not leaving. You know what the U.S. position is – that he needs to end the violence, pull back his forces, step down. …
QUESTION: So you don’t support a political solution or dialogue between the two factions?
MS. NULAND: We support whatever’s going to get us to a place where Qaddafi knows it’s time for him to go.
Got it: pull back forces, stop the violence, step down. Forget “dialogue” – it’s time for Qaddafi to go.
There must be a coherent foreign policy in there somewhere.