Obama Explains His Decisions in Relation to Syria

Obama explains his decisions regarding syria

The U.S. President Barack Obama used his weekly address on September 7 to explain his decisions to take military action against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people and to seek congressional approval for that action.

More than 1,000 innocent people – including hundreds of children – were murdered Aug. 21 in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century, Obama said, and the United States has presented a powerful case to the world that the Syrian government was responsible.

 “This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security,” Obama said. “There’s a reason governments representing 98 percent of the world’s people have agreed to ban the use of chemical weapons. Not only because they cause death and destruction in the most indiscriminate and inhumane way possible – but because they can also fall into the hands of terrorist groups who wish to do us harm.”

Obama also explained why he sought authorization from Congress for military action.

 “As the leader of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, I also know that our country will be stronger if we act together, and our actions will be more effective,” he said. “That’s why I asked members of Congress to debate this issue and vote on authorizing the use of force.”

The U.S. President emphasized that the pending military action is not an open-ended intervention.

“This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan,” he said. “There would be no American boots on the ground. Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope – designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so.”

Obama acknowledged that the American people are weary after a decade of war.

“That’s why we’re not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else’s war,” he said.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria. Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again [and] that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons — all of which would pose a serious threat to our national security.

“And that’s why I call on members of Congress from both parties to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in — the kind of world we want to leave our children and future generations.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Arab League Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned that no country is allowed to take the law into its own hands and urged that any action on Syria be taken to the Security Council.

In anticipation of the Congress’ decision, regardless of the outcome, numerous political analysts claim that the crisis could pave the way  for an important precedent with respect to the legal issue of when presidents or nations may launch lawful use of military force against a sovereign state.

Naval Today Staff, September 9, 2013; Image: The White House