Obama Makes Case to Skeptical Public for Military Action in Syria

Barrington M. Salmon | 9/11/2013, 6:58 a.m.
President Barack Obama addressed the nation Tuesday night during prime time, explaining his rationale as to why the U.S. should ...
President Obama addressed the nation Tuesday night to explain why the U.S. should use military force in Syria after a chemical weapon attack killed more than 1,000 people last month.

Obama took part in a media blitz, appearing on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS and Fox News on Monday and he addressed the nation Tuesday.

“The question now is what the United States of America and the international community is prepared to do about it, because what happened to those people – to those children – is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security. Let me explain why,” Obama said. “If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians.”

Obama said he’s also concerned that if fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, chemical weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

“And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction and embolden Assad’s ally, Iran, which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon or to take a more peaceful path,” he continued.

There was speculation that the Senate and Congress would vote on Wednesday, Sept. 11 but Obama requested a delay in Congress to allow diplomacy to work.

On Saturday, Weisbrot said he hoped the body took a long time to decide whether to authorize any military strikes.

“The longer it takes, the more pressure on Obama. Obama is cautious and public pressure will force Congress’ hand,” he said.

Puryear, national organizer for the Answer Coalition, said citizens had to respond to the drumbeat of war which he believes is aimed at overthrowing Assad.

“We’re here in the spirit of Martin Luther King. We’re opposed to war and military strikes as a solution to the problems in the Middle East,” he said. “Whatever the pretext, U.S. intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria cannot bring peace or justice. It will only deepen the conflict.”