White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama will move forward with a Syria strike pitch to the American people tonight despite a delayed Senate vote after Russia announced a plan to secure Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons.
Carney said the administration views the deal brokered by Assad’s main arms supplier as “potentially a positive development.”
“And we see it as a clear result of the pressure that has been put on Syria by the fact that the president has been moving forward and taking his proposal that we engage in limited strikes against Syria in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against a civilian population,” he continued.
“So he will go forward tonight and make the case to the American people as well as to Congress as he has been that what happened on August 21st was a chemical weapons attack with terrible consequences, that it is undeniable the responsibility for that attack rests with the Assad regime, and that the international community, in this case led by the United States, cannot stand by and allow that international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons to unravel before our eyes. Because the consequences in the long term of that happening would be terrible for the region as well as for the world, including the United States.”
When asked on MSNBC if Obama still wants strikes, Carney said “the president does believe that we need to take action in reaction to Syria’s blatant violation of this long-standing international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons.”
“He also believes, because there is not an imminent threat to U.S. national security, and because his military commanders have told him that they are prepared to strike and that the strike’s impact will not be significantly affected whether we do it right away or in a week or in a month, that we ought to go to Congress because that’s the way he believes the system ought to work. And we ought to make the case to Congress, and Congress ought to take action, vote and authorize this strike,” he added.
“…And let’s be clear. What we’re seeing with the Russian proposal and the Syrian reaction has only come about because of the threat of — the credible threat of U.S. military action. Before this morning, the Syrian government had never even acknowledged they possessed chemical weapons. Now they have.”
Carney said Obama’s next steps are “building support for calling on Congress as well as the American people to understand and support the action that he’s proposed.”
“He will also, as he did last night in response to questions from network anchors, note that we have some potential progress on the diplomatic front because of the credible threat of U.S. military force with the Russian proposal, which I want to make clear is something that we have been discussing with the Russians, Secretary Kerry with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and the president with President Putin in St. Petersburg just on Friday. And so this is the by-product of the push for action that the president has led,” the press secretary continued.
“But most Americans, because they’re busy, they — you know, they understand that the president is calling for military action in Syria, which sounds a lot like, at first blush, military action in Iraq, military action in Afghanistan. And it’s incumbent upon him to explain why this is not what we’ve seen in the past ten years.”
If POTUS hadn’t threatened credible military response, does anyone believe Russia and Syria would be coming forward now? No time to falter.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) September 10, 2013