News / USA

White House in Full Press for Congressional Approval of Syria Strike

Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken answers questions during the daily news briefing at the White House, Sept., 9, 2013.
Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken answers questions during the daily news briefing at the White House, Sept., 9, 2013.
In a television address set for Tuesday, President Barack Obama will make his case directly to the American people to support military action against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons there.  There is intense activity under way in Washington as President Obama prepares to appeal directly to the public.

Despite intense personal lobbying with lawmakers of both parties, and his public statements so far, Mr. Obama still faces an uphill battle tp convince Americans and their representatives that a military response is required.

Polls show national sentiment running strong against a military strike, although there is public support for any action that would have United Nations approval.

On the eve of Tuesday's address, the administration continued an all-out effort, with White House officials providing a likely preview of Mr. Obama's speech.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice listed negative outcomes from a failure to respond to the August 21 chemical attack in Damascus, including damage to U.S. and global security, emboldening Iran and North Korea, and undermining U.S credibility.

"If we begin to erode the moral outrage of gassing children in their bed, we open ourselves up to even more fearsome consequences.  Moreover, failing to respond to this brazen attack could indicate that the United States is not prepared to use the full range of tools necessary to keep our nation secure," said Rice.

In remarks at the White House after a meeting with President Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the debate over use of force is good for democracy.

She also referred to a Russian proposal, which was welcomed by Syria's foreign minister, for the government of President Bashar al-Assad to turn over all of its chemical weapons to international control.

"As was suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians, that would be an important step.  But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction, and Russia has to support the international community's efforts sincerely, or be held to account," said Clinton.

Clinton and the White House are making clear that they view the Russian proposal as having been made possible only by the credible threat of U.S. military action in Syria.

Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told reporters that any "standing orders" to use chemical weapons would have been issued by President Assad.  He reacted this way to the Russian proposal.

"We are going to take a hard look at this, we will talk to the Russians about it, but it is very important to note that it is clear that this proposal comes in the context of the threat of U.S. action and the pressure that the president is exerting, so it is even more important that we don't take the pressure off and that Congress give the president the authority he has requested," said Blinken.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded this way when asked if the United States would delay any action while the Russian proposal is being discussed.

"We have just had a proposal articulated by the Russians with a response of sorts by the Syrian foreign minister, as reported anyway, and we will engage in conversations about that, but we are, in terms of military action, we are obviously engaged with Congress at this point, so while we have these discussions with the Russians and others we will continue in the effort with Congress," said Carney.

President Obama gave interviews to six major U.S. television networks Monday as he continued his defense of plans for what he has said would be a limited military strike aiming to degrade Assad regime capabilities to launch new chemical attacks.

Obama is scheduled to go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with lawmakers in another direct appeal for congressional authorization, hours before he delivers his nationally televised address on Syria.  The U.S. Senate is due to hold an initial vote on Wednesday.

Obama faced more criticism Monday from a key Senate Republican, John McCain, who has advocated for more forceful military action in Syria.

Responding to remarks in London by Secretary of State John Kerry, who said any military action would be "unbelievably small," McCain said what the administration is proposing would be "unbelievably unhelpful."

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid