And so, if there's no international response to the use of these chemical weapons, then—then what effect or consequence could that have on North Korea, because they have a large chemical weapons stockpile also; or—where Iran may be going and may be wanting to go, we'll see, on development of nuclear weapons capability.
So, that's another component of this. So, how do you resolve the issue? Well, yes—there are a lot of bends in the road. There are a lot of twists and turns. But on this particular issue, where we are today on Syria, probably not Iran as much, but certainly Syria, with the Russians, with the OPCW in The Hague and the United Nations, I don't believe, and the president has said this, and I think he's absolutely right, that without the very credible threat of force, I don't think we'd be in the place we are today.
So, there is a component of power, of your military, that you have to employ wisely, judiciously, carefully. But it all does fit. So, I don't think there's a simple answer to was it luck, was it just the way it was. On the other hand, I think – actually I know – there was a lot of strategic thinking in this. But you have to remember that strategies never work out exactly the way you lay it out. There's no blueprint. There's no road map. There's no cook book.
You manage. You deal with the situation every 24 hours, but you've got to keep your eye on the larger strategic interest at the end. And then you have to constantly consider how try to manage all of the moving pieces. And in this, you've got to have a role for Russia somewhere.
Of course, in round one, you were the official to announce the administration's findings on chemical weapons use, the smaller-scale, 12 or so incidents that happened. In round two, with the horrible revelations on August 21, you were in Asia. I think you were in the Philippines. You were talking to world leaders in the Asia-Pacific region.
What were you hearing from them about what they hoped to see from the United States? And how do you think they would have reacted had the United States at the time not acted?
Well, that was a very interesting time, because I was with the ASEAN-plus group—we're 10 nations in ASEAN, and then eight other plus nations, which I was in along with the Russian deputy defense minister. I was with the Chinese defense minister as well. And the Japanese defense minister.
Breakfast must have been interesting.
It was. The South Korean defense minister was there too, in addition to all the ASEAN countries. So, all these components, all these key defense officials there at this time was particularly interesting. What I was doing—I was doing Asian business during the day and doing the Syrian-Middle East business at night.
And we noticed the bags under your eyes were getting bigger.
Getting up at 2 o'clock in the morning, 3 o'clock in the morning, and, you know, doing the secure SVTS with the National Security Council.