President Barack Obama held a press conference at the site of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday, Sept. 6, where he admitted he has little support for a US strike on Syria. The president seemed at times to be rambling and even struggling to find the right words as he attempted to sell Americans and the world on the idea of an attack on Syria in response to claims that government troops used chemical weapons on civilians in a Damascus suburb.
The vast majority of the American public overwhelmingly oppose such a strike, and the president has garnered little support from the world community. Even the Pope has called any US military action "futile."
President Obama began his remarks by speaking about the economic issues discussed at the summit, and then moved to the issue of Syria by saying, “Of course, even as we focused on our shared prosperity, and although the primary task of the G-20 is to focus on our joint efforts to boost the global economy, we did also discuss a grave threat to our shared security: And that’s the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. And what I've been emphasizing and will continue to stress is that the Assad regime’s brazen use of chemical weapons isn't just a Syrian tragedy, it’s a threat to global peace and security.”
The president then went on to say that “Syria’s escalating use of chemical weapons” poses a threat to other nations in the region, including Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel, and that it also “threatens to further destabilize the Middle East.”
One major problem with President Obama’s argument is that he has yet to convince most people that it was in fact Assad, and not terrorist elements in the rebel army, that used chemical weapons. In response to those doubts the president said, “This is not something we fabricated. This is not something that we are using as an excuse for military action. As I said last night, I was elected to end wars, not start them. I've spent the last four and a half years doing everything I can to reduce our reliance on military power as a means of meeting our international obligations and protecting the American people.”
There is no doubt that among the rebel army are factions of Islamic radicals, including members of al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia, leaving many to object to the US military being used as al-Qaeda’s Air Force. The New York Times released a video on Thursday showing rebel troops summarily executing captured Syrian soldiers, and other videos and reports have provided evidence of heinous atrocities committed by rebel forces, including the beheading of a Catholic priest, murders of innocent women and children, and even acts of cannibalism.
This leaves many people opposed to a strike on Syria wondering how the US choosing sides in a civil war in which there is no clear “good guy” can help bring stability the war-torn nation. Even if the Assad government is toppled, who would fill the power vacuum? Islamic radicals are already attacking and killing Christians in Syria, as well as burning churches. They promise more of the same should they assume power in Syria. Many are asking if the US should step in and help them achieve that goal.
Americans opposed to an attack on Syria are not only worried about siding with Islamic radicals, but about the possible ramifications of an attack. Opponents say there is no clear US interest at stake, but the possibility of a broader conflict could result in devastating consequences.
Syria has threatened to strike Israel, Jordan, and Turkey if the US launches an attack. Iran has publicly threatened relation against the US if it engages in military action against Syria. Many observers are convinced a strike on Syria could draw Russia, and even China, into the conflict to protect their interests in the region, and that by attacking the US risks sparking WWIII.
Earlier this week President Obama expressed confidence that Congress would pass a Syrian resolution, but so far widespread support among members of Congress has yet to materialize. Social media is buzzing with talk of a false flag event being carried out as a means of swaying public opinion, and gaining the support of Congress. Even conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said on his show that he believed the chemical attack on civilians in Syria was a false flag event. Former presidential candidates Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan have made similar claims.
The president has announced that he is planning another pro-war speech to the American public on Tuesday, while he continues to urge Congress and the international community to support a US attack.
Despite a joint statement released by the White House and 11 of the G-20 summit participants that calls for “strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience” and expressing support for U.S. and allied efforts “to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons,” it doesn't appear now that anything short of some sort of major event, false flag or otherwise, will alter public opinion before Congress begins debate on Syria when they return from recess Sept. 9.