At a recent event in New York City, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spoke candidly about the civil war in Syria, which a human rights group said Wednesday has claimed over 100,000 lives since beginning in 2011.
At the June 19 forum, which was hosted by the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Kissinger warned that because of volatile ethnic tensions, a victory either by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (who is Alawite) or by the rebels (who are mostly Sunni) would be disastrous.
"If you put either of these sectarian groups in charge, there will be a bloodbath," he said.
Kissinger said he was "all in favor" of getting rid of Assad, but that "if you break up the state administration, you wind up like Iraq -- there is nothing to hold it together."
Kissinger also said the media has portrayed the Syrian civil war in a simplistic way.
"In the American press, [the war is] described as a conflict between democracy and a dictator, and the dictator is killing his own people and we have to punish him," Kissinger said, adding, "But on the whole it is an ethnic and sectarian conflict. … I have to say, we have misunderstood it from the beginning."
Kissinger went on to explain what he thinks would be the best result of the conflict: "An outcome in which the various nationalities agree to coexist together, but in more or less autonomous regions so that they cannot oppress each other ... [is] the outcome I would prefer to see," he said. "But that's not the popular view."
Click the video above to watch, and skip to the 19:35 mark for Kissinger's Syria comments.