Obama delays Syria vote, says diplomacy may work

President Obama blends the threat of military action with the hope of a diplomatic solution as he works to strip Syria of its chemical weapons.
Associated Press
Sep 10, 2013

President Barack Obama told a war-weary nation Tuesday night that diplomacy suddenly holds "the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons" in Syria without the use of force. But he also vowed the U.S. military will be ready to strike against President Bashar Assad if other measures fail.

For now, Obama said he had asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation he has been seeking to authorize the use of military force against Syria.

In a 16-minute speech, the president repeatedly offered reassurances that even the failure of diplomacy — in promised talks at the United Nations or elsewhere — would not plunge America into another war.

"I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria," he promised. "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," he said.

The speech capped a frenzied 10-day stretch that began when he unexpectedly announced he was stepping back from a threatened military strike and instead asking Congress first to pass legislation authorizing the use of such force against Assad.

With public opinion polls consistently showing widespread opposition to American military intervention, the White House has struggled mightily to generate support among liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alike who have expressed fears of involvement in yet another war in the Middle East and have questioned whether U.S. national security interests were at stake in Syria. Obama had trouble, as well, building international support for a military attack designed to degrade Assad's military.

Suddenly, though, events took another unexpected turn this week. First Russia and then Syria reacted positively to a remark from Secretary of State John Kerry indicating that the crisis could be defused if Damascus agreed to put its chemical weapons under international control.

The president said he was sending Kerry to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, and he added, "I will continue my own discussion" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he has said he had been discussing ways out of the Syrian predicament for some time.

At the same time, he said the United States and its allies would work with Russia and China to present a resolution to the United Nations Security Council "requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control."

"It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments," he said.

Acknowledging the weariness the nation feels after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama said, "America is not the world's policeman."

And yet, he added, "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."

"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," he declared.

Obama recounted the events of the deadly chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 that the United States blames on Assad.

"When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until these horrifying pictures fade from memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied," he said.

The president said firmly that Assad's alleged attack was "not only a violation of international law, it's also a danger to our security."

If diplomacy now fails and the United States fails to act, he said, "the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons" and "other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using" it. Over time, he added, U.S. troops could face the threat of chemical warfare, and if fighting escapes Syria's border, "these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan and Israel."

In the run-up to the president's speech, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pointedly told a congressional hearing it was not time to let the threat of military retaliation lapse. "For this diplomatic option to have a chance at succeeding, the threat of a U.S. military action, the credible, real threat of U.S. military action, must continue," he declared.

At the same hearing, Kerry said any diplomacy "cannot be a process of delay. This cannot be a process of avoidance."

He later added that any agreement must include binding consequences if Syria fails to comply, and lawmakers moved to rewrite pending legislation along the same lines.

The president readied his speech as a small crowd of anti-war protesters, some waving signs, gathered outside the gates of the White House.

U.S. officials say more than 1,400 died in the Aug. 21 episode, including at least 400 children, and other victims suffered uncontrollable twitching, foaming at the mouth and other symptoms typical of exposure to chemical weapons banned by international treaty. Other casualty estimates are lower, and Assad has said the attack was launched by rebels who have been fighting to drive him from power in a civil war that has so far claimed the lives of more than 100,000 civilians.

Assad's patron, Russia, has blocked U.S. attempts to rally the Security Council behind a military strike. But Monday, after a remark by Kerry, it spoke favorably about requiring Syria to surrender control of its chemical weapons, and the Syrian foreign minister did likewise.

The foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said Tuesday that his government was ready to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile in line with Russia's proposal in order "to thwart U.S. aggression." He also said Syria was prepared to sign an international chemical convention it has long rejected — a step it can take on its own at any time without U.S. or U.N. supervision.

Syria has long refused to provide an accounting of the size of its stockpile, rarely referring in public to its existence. According to an unclassified estimate by the French government, it includes more than 1,000 tons of "chemical agents and precursor chemicals," including sulfur mustard, VX and sarin gas.

Obama has said frequently he has the authority as commander in chief to order a military strike against Assad regardless of any vote in Congress.

The response in Congress to support such a strike has been lukewarm at best — as underscored during the day when liberal Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and conservative Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., both announced their opposition.

Markey, who was elected to the seat that Kerry vacated when he joined the Cabinet, said the legislation under consideration was too broad, "the effects of a strike are too unpredictable, and ... I believe we must give diplomatic measures that could avoid military action a chance to work."

And Rep. James Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat who sits on committees dealing both with military and intelligence matters, said he feared that "Iran and Russia could cause serious damage" to the United States if they retaliated with a cyberattack.

Yet Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said, "It would be inimical to our country's standing if we do not show a willingness to act in the face of the use of chemical weapons and to act in a limited way to address that use alone."

Earlier, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell became the first congressional leader to come out against legislation giving the president authority for limited strikes. "There are just too many unanswered questions about our long-term strategy in Syria," he said.

By contrast, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, the top two Republicans in the House, have endorsed Obama's request.

Given the uncertainty of diplomatic maneuvering, no vote is expected for several days, if then.

"If something can be done diplomatically, I'm totally satisfied with that. I'm not a blood and thunder guy. I'm not for shock and awe," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a reference to the massive display of firepower that opened the war in Iraq nearly a decade ago.

Still, there was ample skepticism in Congress about the United Nations as well as Russia's true intentions, as well as Syria's willingness to be bound by international agreements.

"There is an overwhelming view it would be preferable if international law and the family of nations could strip Syria of the chemical weapons," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "And there's a large view we should let that process play out for a little while."

Said Boehner: "Clearly, diplomacy is always a better outcome than military action. But I will say that I'm somewhat skeptical of those that are involved in the diplomatic discussions today."

Comments

4shizzle

Oh I see that you used the word "pathetic" that I used to call you.
Well, you still are pathetic .
You do LOTS of drugs don't you ?
Who was the president during 9/11 ?

Darwin's choice

Can't sleep? Worrying about the hand in your pocket?
4shizzle
Thu, 09/12/2013 - 12:30am
Worms are entitled to their opinions.

This post is correct regarding yourself....!! Hahahahahaha!!

4shizzle

You are a worm. Hahahahahaha!!

How are those drugs ? Real good ?

deertracker

These clowns prefer anyone over Obama yet they still insist they are the "real" Americans! SMDH!

Contango

Re: "prefer anyone over Obama"

Biden - 2013.

SamAdams

Biden is just as incompetent, but at least I won't be accused of racism when I point it out!

4shizzle

Yea, there was real compentency in action that resulted in 9/11.

Gee, who was the president and vice president at that time?...hmmmm

deertracker

You guys just like to whine about the President. Who said it was REALLY Obama's idea? It really is not important who thought of it first. All that matters is that he is willing to negotiate a peaceful resolution. Isn't that what the American people want? What are you HATERS going to do when his term is over? What a real joke some of you are!

Darwin's choice

Here's the joke:

Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said Tuesday that at the current time, the only reason she would vote in favor of an attack on Syria was out of loyalty to Barack Obama.
Appearing on radio's Bill Press Show, the non-voting delegate from the District of Columbia also said if the President actually gets the votes he needs, "it’ll be because of loyalty of Democrats. They just don’t want to see him shamed and humiliated on the national stage"

toredown11

It seems the Right wants to pin a medal on Russian President Putin and Fox News is saying that he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, so I thought that maybe I would put a whole different spin on this that I haven't seen reported on...the facts.

The discussion of securing Syria's chemical weapons was first discussed by President Obama and Putin at the economic summit held in Mexico in June of 2012. While the two of them disagreed about Russia's sales of arms to Syria, they did find common ground on the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons and decided to continue talks of this nature through Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavaro. Kerry and Lavaro discussed this issue in both April and May of this year, but the talks didn't contain urgency since to our knowledge Syria hadn't used chemical weapons yet and there was no threat of military action against Syria by the US. Then in August, Kerry, Lavaro, Defense Secretary Hagel and Defense Minister Shoigu discussed the strategy when a Russian team visited Washington. It was after this meeting that chemical weapons were used by the Syrians (Aug. 21st). Since the attack, which led to Obama's decision to use military force against Syria, Kerry and Lavaro have spoken nine times. In other words, there is now an urgency. Then at the G-20 Summit last week, Obama and Putin spoke for 30 minutes about the President's plan for military action and the proposal to disarm Syria of their chemical weapons, and both agreed that the chemical weapons had to go. They also agreed that Kerry and Lavaro should continue their talks and try to reach an agreement regarding Syria turning over their weapons to an international team. This led to Kerry's mention of the plan when asked about it at a press conference this week.

So, to my friends on the Right, before you let your hatred for Obama lead you to kiss the a$$ of the leader that is backing both Syrian President Assad and Cuban Dictator Castro, let it be known that this possible disarmament has been worked on by this administration for well over a year and Obama's tough stance may be what pushes it through. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but Putin didn't pull this proposal out the very a$$ you seem to be so bent on kissing.

Contango

Re: "but Putin didn't pull this proposal out the very a$$"

And why didn't the CIA Sock Puppet not mention this proposal before Putin?

Foreign diplomacy ain't bean bag.

Pres. Obama got smoked and the whole (bleeping) "world community" knows it.

Nemesis

All the more reason Obama should have mentioned it before he began beating his chest and calling for bombing them. But he didn't.
Putin was the first to publicly propose the diplomatic solution.

Many ideas occur to more than one person. Our patent system rewards the first person to publicly disclose an invention for a reason - an idea is worthless to society until shared publicly.

4shizzle

Great read, toredown11 !

But it won't sink into the brain dead.

SamAdams

If Obama and Putin had really been discussing the issue in the vein you claim, why was Obama's initial proposal to engage in force? Why was President Putin the first to go on the public stage and say the International Community should take control of Assad's chemical arsenal?

And no, you may NOT count John Kerry's comment last week since HE said he was joking, the State Department said it wasn't a serious comment, and the White House actually called it a "gaffe." Now does THAT sound like somebody's been talking about that very thing for two years? Or does it sound like Vladimir Putin knows an open door when he sees it and was the first man smart enough to walk through?

4shizzle

Pettiness.
Silly little game playing.

Contango

Re: "Who said it was REALLY Obama's idea? "

"President Obama, they say, discussed it with President Vladimir Putin as far back as the June 2012 G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly spoke about the concept in April of this year."

So it was Putin's idea and NOT Obama's?

Turn in your Obama kiss *ss fanboy club card Bambie!

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/poli...

The Big Dog's back

CONtwisted, your head's so far up Putin's a$$ that you're cutting off oxygen to your skull.

deertracker

Who is they? I never said whose idea it was! Pay attention!

Contango

Re: "I never said whose idea it was!"

It doesn't matter what you think, the world sees it as Putin's.

Keep squirming.

deertracker

Who cares what you or the world thinks? Our President is doing the right thing. Period!

Contango

Re: "Our President is doing the right thing."

You mean following the Russian plan, flip flopping, making America appear weak and indecisive? Yea, right.

The Ruling Class Sock Puppet should stick to what he's good at: Making campaign speeches to his faithful.

Keep squirming Bambie.

4shizzle

"You mean following the Russian plan, flip flopping, making America appear weak and indecisive?"
......................... So Contango , you're ok for bombing Syria ?

Contango

Re: "you're ok for bombing Syria ?"

Nope.

And if the Russian plan falls through are you?

And if Iran develops "the Bomb" are you OK with U.S. military action?

So should the U.S. give up it's chemical and biological weapons?

4shizzle

So Contango , since YOU made this statement :

"You mean following the Russian plan, flip flopping, making America appear weak and indecisive?"

What action or plan do YOU propose to make America appear strong and decisive ?

Contango

No dodging with another question.

Answer my questions first:

And if the Russian plan falls through are you?

And if Iran develops "the Bomb" are you OK with U.S. military action?

So should the U.S. give up it's chemical and biological weapons?

4shizzle

Since you are the self appointed authoritarian , critic, and god of everything...Answer the question :

What action or plan do YOU propose to make America appear strong and decisive ?

4shizzle

Right! No answers. Just a big mouth critic.

Darwin's choice

"By Matt Patterson (columnist opinion writer)

Years from now, historians may regard the 2008 election of Barack Obama as an inscrutable and disturbing phenomenon, the result of a baffling breed of mass hysteria akin perhaps to the witch craze of the Middle Ages. How, they will wonder, did a man so devoid of professional accomplishment beguile so many into thinking he could manage the world's largest economy, direct the world's most powerful military, execute the world's most consequential job?

Imagine a future historian examining Obama's pre-presidential life: ushered into and through the Ivy League, despite unremarkable grades and test scores along the way; a cushy non-job as a "community organizer;" a brief career as a state legislator devoid of legislative achievement (and in fact nearly devoid of his attention, so often did he vote "present"); and finally an unaccomplished single term in the United States Senate, the entirety of which was devoted to his presidential ambitions.

He left no academic legacy in academia, authored no signature legislation as a legislator. And then there is the matter of his troubling associations: the white-hating, America-loathing preacher who for decades served as Obama's "spiritual mentor"; a real-life, actual terrorist who served as Obama's colleague and political sponsor. It is easy to imagine a future historian looking at it all and asking: how on Earth was such a man elected president?

Not content to wait for history, the incomparable Norman Podhoretz addressed the question recently in the Wall Street Journal: To be sure, no white candidate who had close associations with an outspoken hater of America like Jeremiah Wright and an unrepentant terrorist like Bill Ayers, would have lasted a single day. But because Mr. Obama was black, and therefore entitled in the eyes of liberal Dom to have hung out with protesters against various American injustices, even if they were a bit extreme, he was given a pass. Let that sink in: Obama was given a pass - held to a lower standard - because of the color of his skin.

Podhoretz continues: And in any case, what did such ancient history matter when he was also so articulate and elegant and (as he himself had said) "non-threatening," all of which gave him a fighting chance to become the first black president and thereby to lay the curse of racism to rest?

Podhoretz puts his finger, I think, on the animating pulse of the Obama phenomenon - affirmative action. Not in the legal sense, of course. But certainly in the motivating sentiment behind all affirmative action laws and regulations, which are designed primarily to make white people, and especially white liberals, feel good about themselves.

Unfortunately, minorities often suffer so that whites can pat themselves on the back. Liberals routinely admit minorities to schools for which they are not qualified, yet take no responsibility for the inevitable poor performance and high drop-out rates which follow. Liberals don't care if these minority students fail; liberals aren't around to witness the emotional devastation and deflated self-esteem resulting from the racist policy that is affirmative action. Yes, racist. Holding someone to a separate standard merely because of the color of his skin - that's affirmative action in a nutshell, and if that isn't racism, then nothing is.

And that is what America did to Obama. True, Obama himself was never troubled by his lack of achievements, but why would he be? As many have noted, Obama was told he was good enough for Columbia despite undistinguished grades at Occidental; he was told he was good enough for the US Senate despite a mediocre record in Illinois; he was told he was good enough to be president despite no record at all in the Senate. All his life, every step of the way, Obama was told he was good enough for the next step, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.

What could this breed if not the sort of empty narcissism on display every time Obama speaks? In 2008, many who agreed that he lacked executive qualifications nonetheless raved about Obama's oratory skills, intellect, and cool character. Those people conservatives included - ought now to be deeply embarrassed.

The man thinks and speaks in the hoariest of clichés, and that's when he has his Teleprompters in front of him; when the prompter is absent he can barely think or speak at all. Not one original idea has ever issued from his mouth -it's all warmed-over Marxism of the kind that has failed over and over again for 100 years.(An example is his 2012 campaign speeches which are almost word for word his 2008 speeches)

And what about his character? Obama is constantly blaming anything and everything else for his troubles. Bush did it; it was bad luck; I inherited this mess. Remember, he wanted the job, campaigned for the task. It is embarrassing to see a president so willing to advertise his own powerlessness, so comfortable with his own incompetence. (The other day he actually came out and said no one could have done anything to get our economy and country back on track.) But really, what were we to expect? The man has never been responsible for anything, so how do we expect him to act responsibly?

In short: our president is a small-minded man, with neither the temperament nor the intellect to handle his job. When you understand that, and only when you understand that, will the current erosion of liberty and prosperity make sense. It could not have gone otherwise with such a man in the Oval Office."

__________________

4shizzle

Worms are entitled to their opinions.

OMG.LOL.WT_

Obama could just get on a ship and declare "mission accomplished"

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