Barack Obama stopped in Sweden today on his way to the G20 summit, where he continues to defend his push for action against the Syrian government. During a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, reporters essentially ignored the usual questions about cooperation and friendship to focus on Obama's debate with Congress and United Nations.
While continuing his earlier tack that Bashar al-Assad must be punished for the use of chemical weapons, the President did make a subtle shift in his argument, by insisting that it is not his personal credibility, or the American government's, that is on the line, but the whole international community. When asked about his drawing of a "red line," Obama said, "I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line," when they created a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons in war (which Syria has never agreed to.) He also continued to insist that America has a right to act, even (or especially) when the U.N. doesn't.
Now that he is overseas, Obama can only expect more of these questions from international reporters, where ideas about U.N. authorization and Russian influence hold even more weight. Everyone is expecting some tense moments once the President actually arrives at the summit in St. Petersburg. Obama says he still "hopeful" that Vladimir Putin will come over to his side, or at the very least, stop blocking action at the U.N. Putin said earlier in the day he is still open to a possible U.N. resolution if it can be proven that Assad was involved — although he's rejected all U.S. claims to that effect so far — but he also insists that U.S. should not act without the resolution.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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