In an interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose, Vice President Joe Biden addressed criticism by the 51 career diplomats who slammed the Obama administration's Syria policy last week and called for a new one that would take more aggressive action against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
"The president and I and previous presidents support the right of any diplomat to have a secure channel to voice a different view," Biden said. "But there is not a single, solitary recommendation that I saw that has a single, solitary answer attached to it -- how to do what they're talking about."
According to CBS News' Margaret Brennan, the unprecedented, classified internal cable does not make specific policy recommendations such as U.S. airstrikes, but comes close, arguing Assad's artillery and air power must be removed as threats to the U.S.-backed rebels.
"The president's been fastidious -- calls the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the intelligence community, the director of central intelligence, the C.I.A., et cetera. 'Tell me what will work. Will this work?' And the answer has repeatedly been, 'No,'" Biden said.
"What's interesting about this too, to me, is the idea that you got so many people who want you to do something about Assad first. You're smiling, you've heard it so often," Rose said.
"Yet when you press the elected officials, they say, 'Well, what do you want us to do about Assad? Take him out?' ... Is that what you want me to do? Tell me how this ends, Charlie. You know, if you're Sen. Charlie Rose, tell me how it ends, Charlie?" Biden responded.
Biden also discussed the issue of overthrowing dictators, including former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Some ask, would it have been better if they had stayed?
"I argued strongly against going to Libya. My question was, 'Okay, tell me what happens? He's gone. What happens?' Doesn't the country disintegrate? What happens then? Doesn't it become a place where it becomes a petri dish for the growth of extremism? Tell me. Tell me what we're going to do," Biden said.
"And it has," Rose pointed out.
"And it has," Biden said.
The vice president said he doesn't think the U.S. should use force unless it meets "certain basic criteria."
"Is it in the national security interest of the United States? Are our interests directly threatened? Number one. Or our allies, number two. Can we use it efficaciously? Will it work? And number three, can it be sustained?" Biden said. "Now, I can take you to any part of the world, and we put in 200,000, 300,000, or 150,000 troops, we can absolutely end the carnage, but we're there. Now, are we going to take them -- my dad used to have an expression. He'd say, 'Joey, if everything's equally important to you, nothing's important to you.' Tell me: What are our greatest concerns in terms of our existential existence?"