WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama has called on the American people to support his proposal to launch military strikes on Syria. The president’s plan faces widespread opposition among lawmakers and the American public.
In his weekly Internet and radio address Saturday, President Obama made the case that Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack on its own citizens last month cannot be ignored.
The president said the United States must act.
“Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again; 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,” he said.
Obama faces an uphill battle. Most recent public opinion polls show that more than half of the American people oppose U.S. military action in Syria. The president said he understands their concern.
“I know that the American people are weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. That is why we are not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else’s war. But we are the United States of America. We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we have seen out of Syria,” he said.
Watch President Obama's weekly address:
Obama also sought to calm fears that missile strikes on Syria would lead to a prolonged U.S. military commitment there.
“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,” said the president.
One week ago, the president announced that he would seek congressional authorization for the strikes when lawmakers return to Washington from their summer recess in the coming week. Support for the president's request appears stronger in the Senate than in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives - where the measure might be defeated.
Obama will make a rare nationally-televised evening address to the nation on Tuesday, again setting out his goals and reasons for proposed military action.
The president returned late Friday from a trip to Stockholm and the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. While there, Obama lobbied for support among other world leaders and he made numerous telephone calls to U.S. lawmakers back home.