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With Syria Vote on Hold, Obama Still Makes Pitch for ‘Just-in-Case’ Authorization in the Works

"To my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America's military might with the failure to act when a cause is so plainly just."

by
Bridget Johnson

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September 10, 2013 - 8:05 pm
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WASHINGTON — President Obama’s Syria speech to the nation on Tuesday addressed some of his critics’ arguments — and took direct aim at his naysayers on the left and right — but revealed little new about the administration’s case as the intention still appears to be gaining public support for just-in-case strike authorization.

Statements from Democrats after the address hinted at how the Capitol Hill part of the Syria endgame is shaping up: a revised resolution authorizing force if Bashar al-Assad fails to follow through on any vows made in a Russian deal, the initial details of which range from becoming a signatory to the chemical weapons convention to having his massive stockpiles monitored or destroyed.

“On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off-limits, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war,” Obama said of the Aug. 21 attack in a primetime speech from the East Room.

“When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory, but these things happened. The facts cannot be denied.”

Obama reiterated points he’s made in recent days about the violations of international law and threats posed to U.S. allies in the region.

“This is not a world we should accept. This is what’s at stake. And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike,” he said. “The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use.”

He added that he realizes “that after the terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of any military action — no matter how limited — is not going to be popular.”

“Others have asked whether it’s worth acting if we don’t take out Assad. Now, some members of Congress have said there’s no point in simply doing a pinprick strike in Syria,” Obama continued. “Let me make something clear: The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks. Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver.”

“I don’t think we should remove another dictator with force. We learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. But a targeted strike can makes Assad — or any other dictator — think twice before using chemical weapons.”

The president then addressed questions about the danger of retaliation, saying “neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise, and our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakable support of the United States of America.”

“Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that’s so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me, those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?” Obama said. “It’s true that some of Assad’s opponents are extremists. But al-Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death.”

“The majority of the Syrian people, and the Syrian opposition we work with, just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom. And the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism.”

He then said he agreed with people who say the U.S. shouldn’t be the world’s policemen.

“I agree. And I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions. Over the last two years, my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations, but chemical weapons were still used by the Assad regime,” said the president.

“However, over the last few days, we’ve seen some encouraging signs, in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action, as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin,” Obama continued. “…It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments, but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.”

Obama said he asked Congress to postpone its vote as he keeps chatting with Vladimir Putin and Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday. France and Britain have been asked to try to browbeat China and Russia at the UN to come up with a resolution palatable to the Assad alliance.

“To my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with the failure to act when a cause is so plainly just,” he said. “To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.”

“…America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”

Many wondered where Obama was going to go with this speech as the White House seemed eager to try to make the Russia deal work — even as early signs at the UN Security Council weren’t good, with Russia rejecting off the bat a French plan that would allow Assad to be punished with force if he failed to comply.

After a lunch with Obama and the rest of his caucus today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said “if we’re going to have any success diplomatically in the future on this issue, we have to make sure that the credible threat of military action remains.”

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
“When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory, but these things happened. The facts cannot be denied."

Does he not see the irony in this statement given his handling of the Benghazi atrocity?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, we should give this twerp carte blanche on future actions (or, most likely, inactions). Hands down, Barack Hussein Obama is the most embarrassing president in American history. And John Boehner is the most pathetic GOP Speaker of the House EVER. Time to start liquidating some French Republicans (Mark Levin's term, which I think is better and more immediately expressive, and biting, than "RINOs." We need to get these clowns out of OUR party.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"To my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America's military might with the failure to act when a cause is so plainly just."

Since when did he consider anyone on the right to be anything other than his enemy? He must be getting very desperate or going mad.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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I keep thinking that perhaps the entire world will finally see what a sham this guy is....wasted time listening to him. He has never and does not know what he is doing which is why Kerry has been in meetings with Kissinger on how to deal with the Russians. The man who loves to kill from a huge distance can't face the blood letting he'll start...he only deals with situations from far away.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Am I missing something here? I could swear that there are credible reports that AQ is one of the "rebel" groups fighting against Assad. If this is so, isn't BO willing to help them overthrow Assad? And asking for this on the eve of 9/11. The very group that destroyed the towers in NY. Could this possibly be true and members of congress are willing to do this. It's absolutely stunning.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"thats what makes us exceptional"

Hey, didnt he once say we were no more exceptional than anyone else?

Oh well...Obama has insured we will fold up like every other exceptionally cheap suitcase, militarily AND economically, as part of the "Fundemental Transormation" of his Exceptional Leadership.

How are we worthy of such brilliance?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the Obama administration thinks for one minute the Russian's and Chinese won't nuke the hell out of the US they are bigger fools than anyone thought.
But that could well be the terminal phase of the Hope and Change manifesto.
It's according to which states get bombed and which do not.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Failure to Act should be the t-shirt Obama is forced to wear every day. that way, his time spent admiring himself in his narcissistic mirror may prove worthwhile. oh. wait . i take that back.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
says the man who hold, and uses, the power to kill anyone, anywhere, any time, using his drones.... no trial no warrant, no charges, no attempt to arrest and bring to justice. Further, this same person currently supports the very group held responisible for the horrific attacks we remember today, which group is also the one responsible for the nerve gas attack last month, and which group is a declaread enemy of the United States. And HE wants me to buy his claim that attacking and killing innocents in Syria is a "cause so just"? What dream world does this guy live in?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama keeps telling us that it will be a limited and targeted strike. Does that also mean that he is only using missiles that do not kill women and children?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stop organized crime..........re-elect no one !. Time to oust the 'politician's and get some true patriots and statesmen in Congress. And, surely, not the time to elect someone like hillary with her blood-stained hands from Benghazi, etc.. Col. Allen West would be a good choice.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"To my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America's military might with the failure to act when a cause is so plainly just."

Translation: Since you selfish war-mongering right-wingers love to bomb other countries using your expensive military toys every chance you get, in order to advance your typically wicked and greedy imperialist causes, you should not pass up this opportunity that I am giving you.

“To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.”

Translation: Although we left-wingers are more highly evolved and sensitive than those xenophobic right-wing troglodytes, who do not care one whit about the freedom and dignity of foreigners, you are missing a golden chance here to follow your emotions and demonstrate on the world stage your inherent moral superiority.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment

THE COMING OF THE US-SYRIAN WAR?

BASHAR ASSAD

THE MOST MONSTROUS MASS MURDERER
of the 21st century (and client of Islamonazi, genocidal, expansionist Iran) will probably agree to signing the chemical weapons ban treaty if and only if the US and international community agree to the following terms:

1) Forego the use of force against Syria (already proposed by Putin).

2) Lift all sanctions and embargoes on Syria.

3) Recognize Assad as the legitimate head of Syria lawfully putting down an unlawful rebellion.

4) Give Assad immunity from prosecution for war crimes and human rights violations.

In other words, in return for signing the ban on chemical weapons (and surrendering his stockpile to UN control) Assad wants to be rewarded for killing over 100,000 people; and to be able to continue the slaughter in peace until the rebellion (with Iran's help) is totally crushed and he's securely in power again.

No president of the United States could ever agree to these terms. Peace with Bashar Assad is a pipe dream. Is war coming? That depends on how serious Obama is on disarming Assad of his chemical weapons. And he seems quite serious.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism."

Yeah, um, I would believe that, except....that's been OUR job for the past five years.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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