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
X
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:

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid