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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid