US: Chemical attacks make Syria top security risk

Obama administration pledged that any U.S. military action in Syria will be very narrow and limited in its mission.
Associated Press
Sep 5, 2013

For the first time in more than two years of a bloody civil war, President Barack Obama has declared Syria a national security threat that must be answered with a military strike — and in doing so he is warning Americans as much about the leaders of Iran and North Korea as about Bashar Assad.

America's credibility with those countries will be an immediate casualty if it stands down now on Syria, administration officials say in making their case for U.S. missile strikes.

Following an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, the White House declared Syria's 2-year civil war a top risk to American interests. If the U.S. fails to respond, officials said this week, it could encourage other hostile governments to use or develop weapons of mass destruction without fear of being punished.

It's a connection that's not immediately clear to many Americans — especially after the White House refused to send military support earlier in the Syrian war. The recent chemical weapons attack killed 1,429 people, U.S. intelligence officials say. Other estimates are somewhat lower. The wider war has killed more than 100,000.

In House and Senate hearings this week designed to seek congressional approval to strike Assad 's government — probably with cruise missiles but not with ground troops — top administration officials pleaded with skeptical lawmakers to consider the risks of doing nothing.

"Iran is hoping you look the other way," Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Our inaction would surely give them a permission slip for them to at least misinterpret our intention, if not to put it to the test. Hezbollah is hoping that isolationism will prevail. North Korea is hoping that ambivalence carries the day."

"They are all listening for our silence," Kerry said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel raised the possibility that Assad's chemical weapons stockpile, considered one of the world's largest, could be seized by his allies, including the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. "We cannot afford for Hezbollah or any terrorist groups determined to strike the United States to have incentives to acquire or use these chemical weapons," Hagel told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Vali Nasr, a former senior official in Obama's State Department, said Syria's spiraling death toll, the rise of fighters in Syria associated with al-Qaida and other extremist groups, and pressure on neighboring nations from a flood of refugees have already threatened U.S. security interests for years.

"For a very long time we reduced Syria to just a humanitarian tragedy that, as bad as it was, was not a sufficient cause for American involvement," said Nasr, now dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "That meant we ignored all the other ways in which Syria was a national security threat. And for two years we tried to minimize the impact of Syria, and now all of a sudden the administration finds itself in the position of having to give sufficient urgency to Syria to justify action."

Over the past two years, the White House has mightily resisted intervening in Syria's civil war with U.S. military force. A year ago, Obama signaled the one "red line" exception would be the use of chemical weapons.

At the same time, the U.S. has used a heavy hand in years of negotiations with Iran as world powers try to persuade Tehran to significantly scale back its nuclear program, and seek to prevent its ability to build a bomb.

And Washington has repeatedly and sternly warned North Korea against launching underground nuclear tests and missiles that have rattled its regional neighbors and raised concerns that Pyongyang is building a nuclear-tipped rocket that can reach the United States.

"Iran and North Korea are carefully watching our next move," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said during the House hearing Wednesday. "A refusal to act in Syria after the president has set such a clear red line will be seen as a green light by the Iranian regime, who will see that we don't have the will to back up our words."

The administration's credibility was already at risk, however, after its muted response to a series of small-scale chemical weapons attacks this spring in Syria that killed a few dozen people.

As a result of those attacks, Obama pledged in June to increase aid to certain vetted rebel groups fighting Assad in a package that officials said included some weapons. But the aid did not start flowing until very recently and, overall, fell far short of being seen as a decisive or forceful action to punish Assad for the attacks.

Kerry on Wednesday said the scope of the August attacks — and strong intelligence indicating that Assad's government was to blame — convinced Obama that his red line had been crossed. Before now, "the president didn't want to rush into something," Kerry said.

The administration is alone in claiming such a high death toll, citing intelligence reports but refusing to be more specific. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information from a network of anti-regime activists in Syria, said over the weekend that it has been compiling a list of the names of the dead and that its toll reached 502.

Obama, in Russia on Thursday for a world leaders' economic summit, has insisted that his red line merely mirrors that of an international treaty banning the use of chemicals weapons. The treaty has been signed by more than 180 countries, including Iran and Russia — two of Assad's key supporters.

Still, recent polls indicate meager support among Americans for using military force in Syria, and many lawmakers, including Obama's fellow Democrats, remain unconvinced.

"I see this potential bombing campaign as a potential next step toward full-fledged war," said Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who voted against the Senate panel's plan to allow military force in Syria.

Alluding to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have cost lives and money for more than a decade, Udall added: "We have been here before."

Mindful of the president's intended legacies of ending the war in Iraq and winding down the one in Afghanistan, the Obama administration recently has rejected any comparisons to Iraq, pledging that any U.S. military action will be very narrow and limited in its mission.

But in pressing the urgency in Syria, the administration reached back to the specter of 9/11 attacks — which killed almost 3,000 people 12 years ago next week — as an example of the danger of inaction.

U.S. intelligence officials warned for years before 2001 of a need to curb al-Qaida's threat before it could spread.

"What can I tell my constituents about why these strikes are in our national security interest? Why these matter to these folks who are struggling every day?" Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., asked at the House hearing.

Hagel cited "a clear, living example of how we are not insulated from the rest of the world, how things can happen to the United States in this country if we are not vigilant, and think through these things, and stay ahead of these things, and take action to prevent these things from occurring."

"Maybe something would not happen in this country for a couple of years," Hagel said. "But the 9/11 anniversary, I think, is a very clear example you can use with your constituents."

 

Comments

Darwin's choice

Stay out of Syria Obama!!!!

The Big Dog's back

If bush and the Repubs wouldn't have screwed up every other country over there, this wouldn't be happening.

Darwin's choice

More bullspit from the azzlikker.

8ballinthesidepocket

Yeah, right. What a bozoid comment. Your bro has become dillusional Big Dog!! Now he is making up crap to save his big mouth.

Fromthe419

Our Middle East policy has been screwed up since the 1950's Big Dog, every President (Dem and Rep) has screwed up dealing with them.

coasterfan

True, our longterm policy with the Middle East has been a mixed bag of results, but Bush definitely ramped up the hatred towards America with his own particular brand of foreign policy/arrogance/warmongering. When you have people throwing shoes at you during an overseas press conference, it's a sign that things have hit rock bottom. Watching Bush duck the airborne sandal was just one of a long list of embarrassing foreign pratfalls that happened during the Bush/Cheney regime.

Fromthe419

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d...
I laughed my a$$ off when I saw that. He showed himself to be one of the most athletic Presidents ever, I would have probably taken one on the forehead. To be honest, I don't see anything different from the current administration...most claims of WMD and the promise of a war that will not result in victory and will cost future generations billions if not trillions of dollars.

There you go again

Some people get help for their delusional thoughts. Just a suggestion.....

Contango

Re: "screwed up every other country over there"

Leftovers from the break-up of the Ottoman Empire after WWI.

Blame the Brits and the French putz.

SamAdams

Do tell, Big Dog! Was there a Bush in the White House when Egypt dissolved into chaos and when the Muslim Brotherhood — hostile to the West — took over? Was there a Bush in the White House when Libya's dictatorship — not good, but at least stable — fell and hard line Muslims took over? Was there a Bush in the White House when four Americans were murdered in Benghazi (I wish there HAD been — at least HE wouldn't have gone to bed and then blamed a YouTube video)?

The Middle East as a whole has been a mess for thousands of years. In specific, however, the Middle East has become even MORE of a threat since your much-vaunted Nobel Peace Prize-winning President has taken over the reins of a (non-existent anymore) foreign policy!

red white and blue

Its sad as americans we are to busy arguing over who's right and who's falt it is instead of seeing the big pic.this is not going to end well for us remember that when ww111 starts it will end up on our turf mark my words

coasterfan

I share your concern, RWB. Obama is 100% right when he says that the entire world should stand in outrage at the Syrian gas attacks. My wife had an interesting discussion with her students yesterday, about the Nazi concentration camps, and how the rest of the world stood by for a few years, allowing it to happen. There are no easy answers.

Contango

Re: "Nazi concentration camps, and how the rest of the world stood by for a few years,"

Ridiculous premise using a fallacy based on recency.

Know your History - the Nazis worked largely in secret.

Most avg. Germans were unaware of the camps, as most were in conquered Poland.

Also, the question became: Fight to win the war, or fight to free the Jews.

FDR was not a big fan of the Jews anyway, nor were the Russians.

I'm surprised that you aren't blaming GW Bush. :)

arnmcrmn

Very true. Nazi camps were stashed away out in the middle of nowhere with no general access. Most had no clue that stuff was going on until the camps were discovered late into the war.

bullydogs1971

An Open Message To Congress On Syria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?fe...

bullydogs1971

"narrowed and limited"????? wtf does that mean????????????

we are only gonna kill a few people instead of alot?!? this has got to be the stupidest president we have ever had! fool me once shame on you....fool me twice....well you know the rest....this government wont fool me again!

bullydogs1971

the vaporization of small children into a fine mist! this is what will happen when our President Barack Hussein Obama decides we should attack Syria!!!! - Michael Covel: Trend Following
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o...

bullydogs1971

Woman Makes Emotional Plea to McCain to Reject Military Action in Syria!
A Christian Syrian woman (by her own testament) made a very emotional plea to Sen McCain during a town hall meeting to use diplomacy to stop the violence in Syria. She pointed out McCain and Congress should put pressure on the Saudi’s and Iran to stop the violence because both are enabling the fighters on both sides in Syria with innocents, like Christian minorities, caught in the middle. This woman expressed the feeling most Americans have that we do not want another middle eastern war that will end up, IMO if we’re lucky, like another Iraq. I say we will be lucky because we will be/ are engaged in a proxy war with Iran!

http://savingtherepublic.com/blo...

bullydogs1971

McCain....what a PieceOS

bullydogs1971

75,000 troops needed to secure chemical weapons if Damascus falls!
http://rt.com/news/syria-chemica...

so who is going to give up their children for this war??? I had a son graduate this year and when they announced who was doing what with their lives...there where a couple of people who clapped with all of their hearts for their children who were "joining the military"....my heart sank....i was in those stands crying for the stupidity of what these parents thought was something to be proud of. I don't understand how anyone could be happy to send their child to another county to fight for this! For what? It makes no sense! We are going to murder more innocent women an children for what? Democracy? We are going to kill Syrians because "Syrians" are killing other Syrians??? How brainwashed are you? This county is falling apart....our economy is crumbling....we have become a decadent land....and we are more concerned about a country half way across the world than our own people?? Where is this going to lead us? WW3.... the military might of the US, Russia and now China are amassing their Navy in the Mediterranean.....all the surrounding countries are readying their ground troops!!!!!!!! This is a World War!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8...

be for real

I dont believe for a minute that americans are for this war.America needs to take care of America.This is crazy and shouldn't happen,hopefully they will vote no

go22gators

How's that hope and change working for all of you that voted this guy back in?

deertracker

Things are changing for the better, slow but sure. Do you guys ever get tired of whining???

coasterfan

It's working great, thanks! Things are way better than they were under Bush, and I shudder to think where we would be if McCain or Romney had won. You're not telling me that you'd rather go back to double-digit unemployment and the Bush recession, the worst economic disaster of the past 90 years, are you?

arnmcrmn

Really unemployment U6 is currently 13.7%. Thats double digits. Get a refund for wherever you got a diploma from please.

Contango

Re: "Bush recession,"

WAY off-topic.

So why aren't you supporting YOUR Pres. on Syria?

The Big Dog's back

What does it matter to you?

KnuckleDragger

To those who voted for this nut because they were sick of Bush. Looks like you've gotten the African American version of Bush. Nobel should have a category for warmonger.

deertracker

I guess we should have voted for the pizza guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Silly us!

Darwin's choice

You're correct!

Contango

Re: "pizza guy"

So why aren't you supporting YOUR Pres.?

gramafun

this is about as much a threat to us as a cockroach in Bulgaria is to a cockroach in NY. One has nothing to do with the other. It is THEIR civil war.....stay out of it. If they want to kill each other with chemical weapons, so be it. Stay out of it and let them do as they please. We should NOT be getting involved in something that has nothing to do with with is not our business....no matter WHO the President is at this time.

Contango

Gotta ask:

If the U.S. destroys Syrian chemical weapons facilities, won't that spread toxic elements over a wide area potentially killing even more civilians?

bullydogs1971

or this could happen.........“If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic,” Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a Wednesday statement.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/rus...

Contango

Pres. Obama:

"I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line."

No mandates from: The UN, The Arab League, the UK, NATO or the U.S. Congress.

EVERY poll shows Americans OVERWHELMINGLY against military intervention.

Looks like the ONLY "red line" is in the addled brains of the CIA Sock Puppet-in-Chief and his fellow Admin. clowns.

The New World Czar

Maybe we should stop electing lawyers to elected offices, and begin choosing fruit farmers...They already know how to grow a pear!

Darwin's choice

^^THIS^^

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

BAZINGA!

coasterfan

Nah, Contango...the only puppet regime America has ever had occurred in 2000-2008, when a truly evil Vice-President played puppetmaster with a semi-literate, mono-syllabic drinking buddy who somehow got voted into the Oval Office.

Seriously. Obama is an eloquent former Constitutional law professor. George W Bush, the family ne'er-do-well, constantly mangled the English language, had a poor grasp of basic grammar, and actually needed reporters to ask him questions in a pre-set order during White House press conferences, so that he could read the answers his staff had prepared/typed up for him.

Darwin's choice

Teleprompter President! You are warped.

Contango

Re: "Nah, Contango..."

Off topic.

So why aren't you supporting YOUR Pres. on Syria?

The Big Dog's back

bush's daddy's friends on the Supreme Court put him in office.

grumpy

This pertains to the topic of this article in what way? Or is this just your way of putting bush into the conversation? You are acting like a child, trying to inject things that have nothing to do with the topic at hand, anymore than the cluster f### Carter had when he sent a rescue mission into Iran. Neither have anything to do with Syria, and the chemical weapons.

Do you ever do more than deflect from the screw ups that obama makes?

grumpy

doubled

grumpy

More and more dims in Congress are admitting that IF they vote for it, the only reason will be because obama is a democrat. They are against it but will back him because of party politics. They don't give a crap about those they "represent", nor about what those they represent want done. It is ALL about the "party". I doubt it matters which "party" as there is little difference.

http://www.slate.com/articles/ne...

Loyal to the President: “[Democrats in Congress] just don’t want to see him shamed and humiliated on the national stage.” —Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, D.C.

Contango

Re: "They are against it but will back him because of party politics."

The CIA/Ruling Class Sock Puppet is against partisanship until he isn't.

The Big Dog's back

poohs, all the Repubs are voting for it. What about them?

grumpy

"all the Repubs are voting for it."

Why do you make statements that are incorrect? Or do you just lie out of habit? If you pick up a newspaper or read an article about how the vote is being seen it is obvious that you are either lying, stupid, or both. I figure both.

See article Contango linked to in post below this one he made this morning.

http://www.bloomberg.com/infogra...

Contango

Regarding the Congressional vote:

"Obama Far From Approval on Syrian Vote"

http://www.bloomberg.com/infogra...

bullydogs1971

Marine Infantry Combat Veteran Bryan Bates at John McCain Tucson Town Hall, September 5, 2013

https://www.youtube.com/watch?fe...

dorothy gale

I am against sending troops ANYWHERE in this effed-up world. They need to be HERE, where they really can protect us! Why can't we just send in some assassins to take out the bad guy? And no matter which course of action the President takes, those who hate him will say it was the wrong decision. If he strikes, he's a warmonger. If he doesn't, he's weak. What if he does what the people want, doesn't engage, and then all hell breaks loose? Will all the haters suddenly forget that he did what they wanted? It's a no-win situation.

SamAdams

US law specifically prohibts the US military from action on American soil. It's called "posse comitatus." Look it up.

On American soil, we have the National Guard. There's a reason the Founders feared a permanently standing army!

Contango

Re: "'posse comitatus.'"

Sadly irrelevant.

The U.S. has militarized the police (SWAT) and also has Homeland Security.

When rules and regs interfere, work around them.

SamAdams

Technically still in effect; realistically, you're right. By militarizing domestic law enforcement, it can be tough to see a material difference, mostly because there ISN'T one.

KnuckleDragger

Actually, posse comitatus does not apply in the case of foreign attacks on our soil.

SamAdams

No, and no one said that it did. My original response was made in answer to the idea that we bring the military men and women home where they could do more good.

arnmcrmn

Drop a few billion in bombs from the sky. Pull up some navy ships so they can get into range. Waste billions of dollars a month in limited upkeep and the result......some dead Syrians, some hole in the ground and ONE MAD NATION. THIS WILL NOT CHANGE A THING OVER THERE.

Sure you can kill a few cockroaches from above but to actually change Syria, we would have to invest in another 20 year war with no promise, no guarantee and loss of many lives. THIS IS NOT OBAMAS PLAN. He wants limited action from above. WASTING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WE DO NOT HAVE.

OBAMA the TRUE HYPOCRITE. Liberals its time for you to sack up and call Obama out on this.

bayshore

Time to ground his plane, take away his golf clubs and lock this idiot in the White House fruit cellar and lose the key.

Darwin's choice

^^THIS^^ And, he cheats at golf....

JACKEL

He wants to help his Muslim Brotherhood Buddies so we can fight them later like we are fighting the same ones in Afghanistan Crazy Joe Wilson armed to drive out The Russians.First of all where this Phoney U.N that we send billions too.?This has to be all Bush's fault,everything else is.Putin already said you better have proof or else.The CIA can't even find Big Foot.

JohnDorian12

If they're going to be narrow and limited, then why do anything???? So Obama can save face by attacking a country filled with terrorist, I mean it's not HIS money he's spending, these aren't his sons or daughters he's sending in to fight someone else's fight again...lets sit this one out maybe the terrorists will eliminate themselves for us

bullydogs1971

BREAKING! Former Turkish Provincial Official “Chemical Weapons Sent From Turkey to Syria”

http://syrianfreepress.wordpress...

bullydogs1971

Guest Post: 10 Chemical Weapons Attacks The U.S. Government Doesn’t Want You To Know About
1. The U.S. Military Dumped 20 Million Gallons of Chemicals on Vietnam from 1962 – 1971
2. Israel Attacked Palestinian Civilians with White Phosphorus in 2008 – 2009
3. Washington Attacked Iraqi Civilians with White Phosphorus in 2004
4. The CIA Helped Saddam Hussein Massacre Iranians and Kurds with Chemical Weapons in 1988
5. The Army Tested Chemicals on Residents of Poor, Black St. Louis Neighborhoods in The 1950s
6. Police Fired Tear Gas at Occupy Protesters in 2011
7. The FBI Attacked Men, Women, and Children With Tear Gas in Waco in 1993
8. The U.S. Military Littered Iraq with Toxic Depleted Uranium in 2003
9. The U.S. Military Killed Hundreds of Thousands of Japanese Civilians with Napalm from 1944 – 1945
10. The U.S. Government Dropped Nuclear Bombs on Two Japanese Cities in 1945

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/20...

badboy

Reference #1. I can attest to that. Myself and my fellow Marines are living proof......except for those who have passed away from the complications of Agent Orange.

badboy

The "top risk to our security" is the POTUS himself.

arnmcrmn

Obie can't even muster up enough liberals in Washington to make this happen so he will soon be going to the TV to try and get American's fired up. Teleprompter here we come.

Contango

Enjoyed this picture of Pres. Obama with a "teleprompter helmet":

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/20...

The Big Dog's back

Funny to see all these war mongering right wingnuts flip flopping. Flip-Floppers.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

To be fair, Big Dog, we can replace war with peace and right with left.

I don't see this as a popular option with many people. From what I see, read, and hear (and with young people, too) this is not a popular nor necessary choice. Unfortunately I also see people straining between their own beliefs or those of their constituents and what a party is telling them.

It is difficult and I hope you see this said in the light of supporting those in the Democratic party who don't want this for very good reasons. No party should tell them how to think nor vote and I hope they will remain as much the independent thinkers as many claim they are.

I am hoping cooler heads will prevail over wagon-circling and so far it appears that is the case. This may also very well be a bonding moment between the two parties, which is something that is SORELY needed.

The Big Dog's back

In case you haven't figured it out, and by your posts I see you haven't, these people (right wingnuts) are against anything Obama is for. Take that to the bank.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Opposing out of spite is quite immature and frankly amateur for someone in an elected position. So, as I am not one to excuse behavior to cover for a party, if any Republicans are doing it for that reason then shame on them. Please let me know which one is and I will join you in your protest!

Also shame on Democrats who personally oppose this but will vote with the President to save party/presidential face. If you want to root them out, I will also aid you. This issue is one that shouldn't be as hard as it is to figure out, but everything being put out is seemingly knee-jerk reactions or stalling to find justified excuses to take action.

Huron_1969

Well said HZ, well said

Contango

Re: "these people (right wingnuts) are against anything Obama is for."

So you support your Pres.'s military action in Syria putz?

Donegan

http://www.massviolence.org/The-...
Funny to see a poster named after a president who IGNORED a gas attack cheering for it. For gods sake if you feel so strongly be the first to sacrifice yourself for your god and go over to syria, I am sure your terrorist friends you want to help will welcome you with open arms.

arnmcrmn

No big dog...Im not for a pointless war. We liberated the Iraqi people thanks to Bush's strong and long plan. What Obama wants to do is comparable to taking a cup of water out of lake erie and then tell you he "changed the lake". Its all BS smoke and mirrors.

This war would be similar to nearly everything Obama related. Thrown together last minute without any thought of the outcome. Call this Syriacare.

The Big Dog's back

Liberated the Iraqi people? Are you posting that with a straight face or is it just sarcasm?

Contango

Re: "Liberated the Iraqi people?"

The Kurds are appreciative.

So putz, you support your Pres.'s military action in Syria?

Donegan
Contango

Pres. Obama is a puppet for the Saudis:

"The only key Arab nations supporting Obama are Saudi Arabia and Qatar and that is all about the pipeline blocked by Syria."

A MUST READ:

http://armstrongeconomics.com/20...

KURTje

Know your history - nice plagiarism winnie. Facts are most Germans sold out to Hitler. Most far right Americans liked Hitler prior to WW2. He was Time Magazine Man of the Year. (Prescott Bush/T-4 program) Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

grumpy

Thank you for providing back up sources for your conjecture... oh wait...

juannbi

Americans are WAR WEARY !!!! We have so many problems here at home

juannbi

Americans are WAR WEARY !!!! We have so many problems here at home

KURTje

Man of the year Time Magazine 1938.