Calling for the pursuit of the latest diplomatic measures proposed by Russia with continued military pressure should diplomatic measures fail, on Tuesday from the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American people on the reasons why U.S. involvement is critical in the removal of chemical weapons in Syria.
“We know the Assad regime was responsible. In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gasmasks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces. Shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded. We know senior figures in Assad’s military machine reviewed the results of the attack, and the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed. We’ve also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin.”
President Obama urged action not because the United States is the world’s policeman, but because as a leader, the United States and the international community must act otherwise chemical weapon use may spread, arguing that dictators across the globe will see international inaction as an open door. Without action, the President urged, there will be a greater chance that these same weapons may one day be used against the United States.
“When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory,” the President explained. He continued, “The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it. Because what happened to those people, to those children, is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.”
Acknowledging America’s weariness with war, Obama assured the nation that if diplomacy failed, the strike would be limited and targeted to “make Assad, or any other dictator, think twice before using chemical weapons.”
He reiterated his previous statement that there would be no American troops on the ground in Syria, emphasizing that the objective of possible military strikes should they come to pass would merely be to discourage chemical weapon use, not to side with one side or the other in the civil war.
The President stated that while he was hopeful of a diplomatic solution and he asked Congress to postpone their vote on authorization of the use of military force, he would maintain the military’s current state of readiness should Syrian President Bashar Assad decide to reverse his acceptance of Russia’s proposal.
Through continued talks between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia proposed on Monday that Syria turn its chemical weapons over to international control, to which Syria agreed on Tuesday, surprisingly adding that the nation would also sign the chemical weapon ban treaty, which has been signed already by 189 nations across the globe.
Obama closed his address by stating, “America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth."