World News

Obama Makes Case for Military Strike on Syria

U.S. President Barack Obama has made his case for military action in Syria, saying that a targeted strike is "in the national security interests of the United States."

In a televised speech to the nation Tuesday night, President Obama said he resisted military action during the first two years of the conflict because "we cannot solve someone else's civil war through force." But he said the situation "profoundly changed" on August 21 when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government gassed to death more than 1,000 people outside Damascus, including hundreds of children.

Mr. Obama said if the U.S. and the international community fail to act, Mr. Assad and other tyrants would see no reason not to use chemical weapons again. He said that over time, U.S. troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorists to obtain them and attack civilians. The president said a failure to act could open up Turkey, Jordan, Israel and other U.S. allies in the region to the threat of chemical weapons, and could embolden Mr. Assad's ally Iran.

He said the purpose of a U.S. strike on Syria would be to deter Mr. Assad from using chemical weapons, degrade his regime's ability to use them, and make clear to the world that the United States will not tolerate their use.

But the president added that he has asked Congress to postpone votes on a military strike in light of Tuesday's news that Syria has agreed to a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control and to have them destroyed.



Mr. Obama said it is too early to tell whether the offer will succeed, but he said it has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force.

He said no one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria, and he said U.S. officials know President Assad's government was responsible.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. is not the "world's policeman," but that when "with modest effort and risk" it can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make American children safer in the long run, he believes it should act.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration will take a hard look at the Russian plan. Kerry intends to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday in Geneva to discuss Syria.

At the United Nations, U.S., British and French diplomats worked on a draft resolution Tuesday calling for strong action if Syria fails to keep its word.

President Obama said the U.S. is still prepared to go ahead with military strikes against Syria if diplomacy fails. But Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plan for Syria can only work if the United States drops its threat of force.

Syria's main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Coalition, dismissed the Russian proposal as meaningless. It said the plan still would give the Syrian army free rein to fight on with conventional weapons.

And while this diplomatic activity focused on the response to the chemical weapons attack, the civil war in Syria continued. On Tuesday, Syrian military jets again bombed rebel positions in the capital, Damascus.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs