During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, CNN embarrassed themselves with a biased question that President Obama dismantled with facts.
MR. CARNEY: The next question comes from Jim Acosta of CNN.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Arigato, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. President, in regards to the Senkaku Islands, I just want to make sure that this is absolutely clear. Are you saying that the U.S. would consider using military force were China to have some sort of military incursion in those islands to protect those islands? And how does that not draw another red line that you would have to enforce — of putting U.S. credibility, your credibility on the line once again, as it was in the case with Syria and Russia? And on another key security issue, you mentioned North Korea in your meeting with the Prime Minister. Are you issuing a warning to North Korea that there should not be another nuclear test?
And to Prime Minister Abe, do you have confidence in President Obama’s assurances about your security when the U.S. and the West were unable to stop Russia’s advances in Ukraine? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jim, let me unpack that question because there’s a whole bunch of assumptions in there, some of which I don’t agree with.
First of all, the treaty between the United States and Japan preceded my birth, so obviously, this isn’t a “red line” that I’m drawing; it is the standard interpretation over multiple administrations of the terms of the alliance, which is that territories under the administration of Japan are covered under the treaty. There’s no shift in position. There’s no “red line” that’s been drawn. We’re simply applying the treaty.
At the same time, as I’ve said directly to the Prime Minister that it would be a profound mistake to continue to see escalation around this issue rather than dialogue and confidence-building measures between Japan and China. And we’re going to do everything we can to encourage that diplomatically.
With respect to the other issues that you raise, our position, Jim, the United States’ position is that countries should abide by international law; that those laws, those rules, those norms are violated when you gas children, or when you invade the territory of another country. Now, the implication of the question I think is, is that each and every time a country violates one of those norms the United States should go to war, or stand prepared to engage militarily, and if it doesn’t then somehow we’re not serious about those norms. Well, that’s not the case.
Right now, we have 87 percent of serious chemical weapons have already been removed from Syria. There’s about 13 percent left. That’s as a consequence of U.S. leadership. And the fact that we didn’t have to fire a missile to get that accomplished is not a failure to uphold those international norms, it’s a success. It’s not a complete success until we have the last 13 percent out.
With respect to Russia and Ukraine, we’ve been very clear about the fact that there’s not going to be a military solution to the problem in Ukraine, but we have already applied sanctions that have had an impact on the Russian economy and we have continued to hold out the prospect, the possibility to resolve this issue diplomatically. There was some possibility that Russia could take the wiser course after the meetings in Geneva. So far, at least, we have seen them not abide by the spirit or the letter of the agreement in Geneva. And instead, we continue to see militias and armed men taking over buildings, harassing folks who are disagreeing with them, and destabilizing the region, and we haven’t seen Russia step up and discourage that.
On the other side, you’ve seen the government in Kyiv take very concrete steps, in introducing an amnesty law and offering a whole range of reforms with respect to the constitution, that are consistent with what was discussed in Geneva. And my expectation is, is that if, once again, Russia fails to abide by both the spirit and the letter of what was discussed in Geneva, that there will be further consequences and we will ramp up further sanctions.
That doesn’t mean that the problem is going to be solved right away. These are difficult issues. But what we try to do is to make sure that we are very clear about what we stand for, what we believe in, and we are willing to take actions on behalf of those values, those norms, and those ideals.
The question from the CNN reporter was absurdly biased because it was based on the Republican talking point about President Obama’s “red line.” The fact that Acosta mentioned Syria, and appeared to have no idea that 87% of the chemical weapons had been removed demonstrated that he had bought the Republican propaganda hook, line, and sinker.
Acosta also tried to make the news instead of reporting it by suggesting that the U.S. might use military action against China. According to the press that is covering President Obama, a treaty now equals a red line. Getting the chemical weapons out of Syria without a shot fired is a foreign policy failure, and Obama is threatening military action against China.
It’s one thing for the media to be this bad at home, but it is worse when they embarrass the nation on the world stage. The media can’t report facts, because they aren’t interested in them. Apparently, you can take the media out of Washington, but you can’t take the Republican bias out of the media.