News / USA

Obama Backs Diplomacy on Syria, But Force Still Possible

Obama: Ideals, Principles at Stake in Syria, Allows for Diplomatic Efforts to Play Outi
September 11, 2013 9:28 AM
In a national television address Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he is "encouraged" by a new diplomatic effort to resolve the crisis over last month's chemical weapons attack in Syria. But the president said U.S. principles and national security are at stake in Syria, and Congress might still need to vote later to support a potential limited military strike. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports.]]
Dan Robinson video report about President Obama's address
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama Tuesday laid out his case for stopping the Syrian government from using chemical weapons.  The president also cautiously endorsed a Russian diplomatic initiative to defuse the crisis.
In his 15-minute address to the American people, President Obama referred to the diplomatic developments of recent days as “encouraging signs.”
Under the Russian proposal, Syria would surrender its chemical weapons to the United Nations, and the United States would freeze its plans for military strikes on Syria.
The president held out cautious optimism that the plan could work.
“It is too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime [of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] keeps its commitments.  But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force," said President Obama.
The Tuesday evening address was originally scheduled so that Obama could ask Congress and the public to support a military action.
But with the diplomatic situation rapidly changing, the speech was rewritten, and the president asked lawmakers to put their planned vote on hold.
“I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.  I am sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin," said Obama.
However, the president said the U.S. military will keep the pressure on the Syrian government, and will be “ready to respond” if diplomatic measures fail.
He focused much of the speech on the need to act to stop the use of chemical weapons, using military force if necessary.
The president said the situation in Syria changed on August 21, when the government of President Bashar al-Assad gassed its own citizens.
He said the video of that deadly attack is a compelling argument for action.
“Indeed, I would ask every member of Congress and those of you watching at home tonight to view those videos of the attack, and then ask: What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way," he asked.
Obama said American ideals, principles and national security are at stake in Syria.
Many Americans, including members of Congress, disagree. In the latest public opinion polls, almost 60 percent of Americans surveyed say they oppose U.S. military action in Syria.
Prospects are dim for congressional approval of a military strike, especially in the House of Representatives, even though the top two House Republicans, Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have endorsed it.

Iran and China, which have opposed outside military intervention in Syria, expressed optimism about the diplomatic path on Wednesday.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he is hopeful the United States is serious about pursuing diplomacy, while Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China hopes all parties can seize the opportunity for a political resolution.

Meanwhile, French officials said Wednesday they remain ready to launch a military strike against Syria if the diplomatic efforts fail.

Watch President Obama's full speech:

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 11, 2013 11:47 AM
Here we are talking about the US, the real trouble is Britain, and this is why and how. British Prime Minister quickly ran to the parliament with a request for approval to go to war in Syria. The request was also quickly defeated. It seemed the Prime Minister did not bother about its impact on his image; he also quickly rushed to tell the viewing world that he was defeated in parliament. On the face value it looked simple - a motion was defeated by parliament. But think about it, what message does it pass to the world? That the British Prime Minister has lost credibility within the ranks of his constituency? It would have been a bad news and the Prime Minister knows it, if the situation was not a stage-managed situation to produce what the public saw on the screens of the television.

It goes beyond the war-weariness peddled in the US why Syria's impunity using poison gas on its people will not be punished by the West. The eloquence of the situation billows from the unspoken, seemingly concerted agreement of the entire western world to let the Assad's crime go unpunished as an incentive for him to do it again on his people. To them he could as well have carried out the attack on pigs, why waste precious western blood and time fighting for it? The early and easy victory of opposition in Britain is a reflection of Britain having not truly forgiven the stubborn Arabs for their rebellion during the colonization era.

Although Britain has remained, in their eyes, relevant in the region, her motive is very different from normal alliances between countries. It is for economic reasons solely. No wonder it is not favorably disposed toward Israel, the most democratic and industrialized country in the region. Britain has little to offer Israel in terms of give and take of international trade. This is why it seems to be sympathetic to the region's idea of the Resistance. But when the chips are down, Britain can only do what it knows best, leave them in the lurch! If Britain behaves this way, what is expected of USA?

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 11, 2013 11:16 AM
"But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force," That is the biggest lie of the century. Mr. President wants to send Sen. Kerry to meet his counterpart in Russia, that's just to keep him busy. Whether you like to admit it or not, Kerry must be badly disappointed at his presidents naivety in the handling of this matter. Telling Bashar al Assad that all you're doing is just put pressure to get him do what you want is the most stupid thing a president can do to threaten a terrorist-minded man-eater. By the time the delay game is over, it will look stupid to reactivate a desire to strike Syria. The game is in the hands of Russia, Iran and China. North Korea holds the ace.

First the Russians seem to mitigate the situation by telling the world that Syria will relinquish or surrender its arsenal of chemical weapons in exchange for USA dropping a military strike. Mr. Obama quickly embraced the poison because he was waiting for any form of leeway to emerge from anywhere as an excuse to abandon the threat which he entered into without measuring his steps. Seeing that America was rather looking for the easy way out, Russia has gone a step further to show it's the one in control by dictating the way it is to be done.

Russia now says USA must first drop its threat of war before Syria will make good its part of the deal - promise to handover the chemical weapons. And why not, if the US has to show the level of weakness it has exhibited in this matter? If and when the US gives in to first abandoning the threat of a strike, Syria and Russia will make another demand. And it's going to be from one demand to another, until finally they will bring in the ultimate issue and reason of the Resistance to force Israel to submit the Golan Heights before the chemical weapons be handed over.

Shame! When a president is unable to make decision for his country, when a president must call in all the electorates and everybody before he reaches a decision to make good his promise to defend the integrity of the country, what shall we say about the situation? It's a bandwagon effect. The president is a bandwagon man.
In Response

by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet- Africa
September 11, 2013 1:19 PM
"The game is in the hands of Russia, Iran and China. North Korea holds the ace." Do you mean there is now a power-shift in reality and no longer an illusion? LOL!! When power is abused, the opposition takes advantage of the leader's weakness, yeah!! That's right!! US abused power, opposition came in with diplomatic rebellion. China, Russia, Iran and Korea can now teach the so called rebels the best way of rebellion. Opposition Stratagy projected within the confines of the law is the ideal democratic rebellion.

"The early and easy victory of opposition in Britain is a reflection of Britain having not truly forgiven the stubborn Arabs for their rebellion during the colonization era." If the above statement is truth, then why do we encourage rebellion? It is bitter and the great Britain knows it. From the time of creation of mankind, rebellion has been bitter and would still be the the end of times.

Thank you Godwin for projecting these undiluted facts.

by: Lady from: Little Rock
September 11, 2013 9:55 AM
The President, as expected, has back-peddled on his threats to attack Syria. After immense pressure from thousands of calls by concerned Americans to their Congressional representatives, threats of retaliation from Russia, and a total lack of credible evidence having been presented for the case to go to war in another middle eastern country, President Obama buckled.

For now, the world has been spared another conflagration and one that could have spread very quickly and involved the globe’s most power nations in conflict.

Once the American people realized that the pretext for war in Syria was eerily similar to that of the weapons of mass destruction claims which led to a decade’s long war in Iraq, Obama was left without any real support on the domestic front or the international community.

His policy in the middle east has been a laughing stock, and it has left the world wondering if the President of the United States has any clue as to what’s really going on around him.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 11, 2013 11:52 AM
In other words Obama's action is a confirmation that the so-called US intelligence agency is as good as not existent? Its action is fraught with inaccuracies, falsehood and fabrications? What exactly are you saying, the US has no reliable secret agency? So what happens next time the agency comes on air to raise security alert level, ignore it?

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