“We could have easily identified the Free Syrian Army, the freedom fighters, working with our allies … had we had a better plan in place to begin with, working through our allies,” Ryan said. “But no, we waited for (former U.N. peace envoy) Kofi Annan to try and come up with an agreement with the U.N.. That bought Bashar Assad time.”
He didn't offer a plan for moving forward, however.
Biden said the administration has been working in parallel with U.N. efforts all along.
“We are working hand-in-glove with … all the people in the region, attempting to identify the people who deserve the help so that when Assad goes — and he will go — there will be a legitimate government that follows on. Not an al Qaeda-sponsored government,” Biden said. “You're in a country that is heavily populated in the midst of the most dangerous area in the world. And if fact it blows up and the wrong people gain control, it's going to … potentially cause a regional war.”
More than 25,000 people have died since the rebellion against Assad broke out 18 months ago. The U.S. response to the crisis seemed likely to dominate the foreign policy discussion prior to the election until the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, pushed Syria off the front page.