President Obama’s Weekly Address: Syria
National security interest.
These are guidelines the president has set forth as he attempts to persuade the American people on what might be the most controversial issue to confront his second term thus far.
Making the case that Syria’s civil war has seen Bashar al-Assad use chemical weapons against his own people, President Obama determined that the United States should respond with military action. And though President Obama has made up his mind on the subject, the question now is whether the American people and the U.S. Congress, will go along with the his request for limited strikes.
There are obstacles in the way of the president’s plan for action. Doubts still linger from the second Iraq War. The message coming from the international community is muddled. Blame linking chemical attacks directly to Assad, depending on which side is speaking at the moment, is still a matter of contention. And while the president’s proposal calls for limited action, a vocal contingent of both the House and Senate worry if the U.S. might find itself entangled in yet another war in the Middle East.
President Obama discussed Syria in this week’s address, urging that action is necessary to protect an international standard against the use of chemical weapons and prevent a dangerous precedent that could encourage other countries to use such weapons if there are no repercussions. The president also discussed the national security interests he feels are at stake if the United States fails to act, warning that chemical weapons could fall in the hands of terrorist groups. Perhaps most importantly, President Obama restated that he is not calling for war or boots on the ground in Syria, but is asking for a limited response:
This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security. 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.
That’s why, last weekend, I announced that, as Commander in Chief, I decided that the United States should take military action against the Syrian regime. This is not a decision I made lightly. Deciding to use military force is the most solemn decision we can make as a nation.
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. That’s why I asked Members of Congress to debate this issue and vote on authorizing the use of force.
What we’re talking about is not an open-ended intervention. This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan. 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. (White House transcript)
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