Colin Powell: U.S. shouldn't go to war in Syria even though strategy to quell violence "not working"

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" June 13, 2012.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" June 13, 2012.

(CBS News) Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday that he opposed the United States directly intervening in the violence in Syria even as he acknowledged that the international community's strategy to stop the bloodshed is "not working."

The retired general, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, told Gayle King and Charlie Rose that he agreed with the assessment that the 15-month-long conflict between the regime of President Bashar Assad and the opposition has become a civil war.

"It's getting worse, not better, and what's out there in the way of plans is not working," Powell said.

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Powell said he would be surprised if a nation or global body, such as the United Nations, decided to intervene with military force.

"The question always comes down to, well, should somebody go in and intervene and that someone almost always turns to be the United States, and I don't think we can do that," he said. "I don't think we should find ourselves in the middle of this because, remember, it's not just a matter of intervening. If you take out this government, as we learned in Afghanistan and Iraq, you've now become responsible for the country, and I don't think that should be our responsibility. I don't sense any energy to do that."

Powell voiced his support for the work of international envoy Kofi Annan, whose cease-fire plan between the regime and rebels in April didn't last.

"I don't know that there is much that the United States can do," said Powell, "other than work with the international community and try to apply sufficient economic, political and diplomatic pressure on President Assad -- who I know and I worked with and he's a liar of the first order -- anything you can do to get this guy to realize the urgency of the situation and start to work with the opposition or get out of the country."

Above, watch Colin Powell discuss Syria, the presidential race and military life