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O'Reilly endorsed assassinating Syrian leader if he "doesn't help us out"

Media Matters | October 5 2005

On the October 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly called for the assassination of Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad, if Assad does not help promote stability in the Middle East by maintaining Iraq's borders. O'Reilly claimed that "we could take his life, and we should take his life if he doesn't help us out." O'Reilly was responding to Fox News contributor Gen. Wesley Clark's suggestion that the United States use diplomacy to bolster regional support for the Iraq war among uncooperative neighbors.

From the October 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: And joining us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, is Fox News military analyst General Wesley Clark, who has been thinking about Iraq policy. OK, General, go. What would you do if you were in charge?

CLARK: Bill, it's always taken a three-legged stool to succeed in Iraq. Leg one is the military, leg two is the politics inside Iraq, and leg three is the diplomacy in the region and especially with Iraq's neighbors.

Now, for the first year we were in Iraq, we only had leg one, the military. Then we added the political. The political is bringing a constitution to be voted on later this month that's going to really anger 20 percent of the population. And when it passes, which it probably will, we'll have deeper animosities inside Iraq.

So the mission is in trouble. You're right; it's a big mess. The reason is the Bush administration has never really grasped the diplomatic problem in the region. If we want to fix Iraq, we've got to work the diplomacy of the region. Now, how do we do it? We meet individually, we send emissaries in, we talk to Iraq's neighbors. Turkey, Jordan -- no problem. Kuwait -- no problem. Syria and Iran -- that's really tough. This administration doesn't want to talk to either one of them directly. And yet, they're part of the problem in Iraq. When we invaded Iraq, we let Syria and Iran know they were next.

We're putting the squeeze on Syria right now. We'd like to run -- the administration would like to run -- Bashar Assad out of town and get rid of this government in Syria. So he's got no incentive right now to try to help us work in Iraq. And as far as Iran is concerned, we've got a looming nuclear crisis with Iran, and we're not talking to them. So our military people, our mission in Iraq is being held hostage by the neighbors. We're going to have to talk to the neighbors if we want to make this mission work.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, Syria, I think you can probably make a deal -- is you spare Bashar's life if he cooperates with us. I agree with you.

[...]

O'REILLY: All right. So let's sum up. So you want to -- you want to --

CLARK: Take that common interest, and build out of it a regional dialogue, and let the United States then train the Iraqi forces, step back as the guarantor of regional security in the region, and then let each of these countries guarantee Iraq's border, and let their --

O'REILLY: All right. It's an optimistic viewpoint that they would do that.

CLARK: It's a possible viewpoint, Bill.

O'REILLY: North Korea proves that, although we don't know if North Korea is going to do what they say they're going to do. So it's a dangerous world. But look, I'm not opposed to having conversations with Syria and Iran to try to help us out over there, but I don't -- Syria, I think you could do it, because as you said, you know, it's Bashar's life. I mean, we could take his life, and we should take his life if he doesn't help us out. Iran -- different nut.

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