By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
US President Barack Obama spoke on Tuesday to the American public, urging both national and international viewers to respond to Syria. Since President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the suburbs of Damascus, the US and its allies have engaged in a diplomatic tug of war with Syrian allies like Russia and Iran.
Since Russia can block a United Nations approval for attacking Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry has recently met with various world leaders seeking more support for a military strike. Recently, he made a comment that the US wouldn’t attack if Syria gave up its weapons, leading Russia diplomats to join with Syria’s government in offering to meet those conditions. However, Obama is skeptical of the deal, and believes that the Syrian government should still be punished. Otherwise, al-Assad would be encouraged to use chemical weapons again. He wants to use a targeted strike against key locations in Syria, to prevent future attacks.
“Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used,” said Obama. He called the Russian offer encouraging, but cautions that “it’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments.” For now, though, he asked the US Congress to delay a vote on authorizing military force against Syria, hoping that a diplomatic push will give UN inspectors more time to report their chemical weapons inspection. Obama has begun having constructive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and will continue to at least keep military “pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.”
He underlines how terrible the chemical weapons strike was on the innocents in Syria, expressing, “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.” Obama explains that he recognizes the resistance by Americans to enter another war after the high costs of Iraq and Afghanistan. “I know that after the terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of any military action — no matter how limited — is not going to be popular,” and promises that he “…will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective, deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad’s capabilities.”
Images and video courtesy of the White House.