As a growing number of lawmakers speak out against military action in Syria, President Obama will address the nation on Tuesday to lay out his arguments for striking the Assad regime over its chemical-weapons use.
MORE FROM NATIONAL JOURNAL
- Barack Obama: The Loneliest Man on the Planet?
- Bashar al-Assad's Surreal Instagram Feed
- America's Sharp Turn Inward
While Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials have attempted to convince members of Congress in the last week that the appropriate course of action is to give the president the authority to use limited airstrikes. But Obama has faced criticism not only from Republicans but also from members of his own Democratic Party who face a war-weary public back home.
Now, Obama is taking his case straight to those constituents. Speaking to reporters on Friday, the president hinted at the arguments he will make in his address from the White House next week.
"The kind of world we live in and our ability to deter this kind of outrageous behavior is going to depend on the decisions that we make in the days ahead," Obama said in a press conference at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.
What are those arguments?
This is not just about Syria. It's about international norms.
The Assad's regime brazen use of chemical weapons isn't just a Syrian tragedy. It's a threat to global peace and security.
The chemical-weapons attack was so horrific it deserves a strong response.
You know, over 1,400 people were gassed. Over 400 of them were children. This is not something we have fabricated. This is not something we are looking or using as an excuse for military action.
Obama has spent his presidency trying to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but military action is needed sometimes.
I was elected to end wars, not start them. I've spent the last four and a half years doing everything I can to reduce our reliance on military power as a means of meeting our international obligations and protecting the American people. But what I also know, there are times where we have to make hard choices if we are going to stand up for the things we care about, and I believe that this is one of those times.
We cannot go through a broken United Nations.
It is my view, and a view that was shared by a number of people in the room, that given Security Council paralysis on this issue, if we are serious about upholding a ban on chemical-weapons use, then an international response is required and that will not come through Security Council action.
Some argue that a response would be too little, too late. He disagrees.
We may not solve the whole problem, but this particular problem of using chemical weapons on children, this one we might have an impact on and that is worth acting on. That is important to us.
Military intervention in other nations has been unpopular throughout history, but it was the right thing to do.
When London was getting bombed, it was profoundly unpopular, both in Congress and around the country, to help the British. It doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do. It just means people are struggling with jobs and bills to pay and they don't want their sons or daughters put in entanglements far away are dangerous and different. To bring the analogy closer to home, the intervention in Kosovo, very unpopular, but, ultimately I think it was the right thing to do and the international community should be glad that it came together to do it. When people say that it is a terrible stain on all of us, that hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in Rwanda, imagine if Rwanda was going on right now and we asked should we intervene in Rwanda? I think it's fair to say it probably wouldn't hold real well.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.