James Jones — who served as NSA under former President Barack Obama and as supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe during George W. Bush's presidency — said Monday that it isn't clear exactly what the White House wants to do in the Middle East because of apparently "disparate" messages it has sent. However, Jones ultimately expressed optimism that the United States will stay committed to the region.
"I think generally — with regard to the main threats: with regard to Iran, with regard to ISIS, with regard to Russia — I would say, at this point, because there's some confusion, I would say, no more than a C plus," Jones told CNBC's "Capital Connection" when asked what grade he would give to the administration's handling of the various issues in the Middle East.
On one such issue — the planned U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria — Jones said the tensions that have arisen between Washington and Ankara should not be litigated in public, but rather by careful discussion between the two governments.
"You really have to have serious meetings at both capitals with the intent of fixing what right now is somewhat fractured," he said.