By Jueseppi B.
Barack Obama FULL Press Conference in Stockholm Sweden
Published on Sep 4, 2013
Hela president Barack Obamas presskonferans i Stockholm 20130903.
Statement by the Press Secretary
This afternoon, on a bipartisan basis, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution authorizing U.S. military action in Syria. We commend the Senate for moving swiftly and for working across party lines on behalf of our national security. We believe America is stronger when the President and Congress work together. The military action authorized in the resolution would uphold America’s national security interests by degrading Assad’s chemical weapons capability and deterring the future use of these weapons, even as we pursue a broader strategy of strengthening the opposition to hasten a political transition in Syria. We will continue to work with Congress to build on this bipartisan support for a military response that is narrowly tailored to enforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and sufficient to protect the national security interests of the United States of America.
My opinion on Syria:
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday voted to give President Barack Obama the power to a launch a military attack to punish Syria for using chemical weapons.
The vote was 10-7. It marked the first time in more than a decade — since a 2002 resolution that preceded the Iraq war — that members of Congress have voted to authorize military action.
The resolution, which could be voted on by the full Senate as early as next week, forbids Obama from using ground troops in Syria and allows the military response to last no longer than three months.
The yes votes comprised seven Democrats and three Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, who had expressed reservations that the United States was not doing enough to arm the rebels fighting Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
“We commend the Senate for moving swiftly and for working across party lines on behalf of our national security,” read a statement from the White House. “We will continue to work with Congress to build on this bipartisan support for a military response that is narrowly tailored to enforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and sufficient to protect the national security interests of the United States of America.”
Earlier in the day, Obama landed in Stockholm and, at a press conference with the Swedish prime minister, declared that punishing Syria for using chemical weapons was a matter of upholding the credibility of the world.
Answering a question about his statement last year that Syrian use of chemical weapons would be a “red line,” Obama said the response was not about him.
“I didn’t set a red line — the world set a red line,” Obama said. “The international community’s credibility is on the line, and America and Congress’ credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”
Raw: Obama’s Impassioned Plea for Action
Published on Sep 4, 2013
President Barack Obama said Wednesday the credibility of the international community and Congress is on the line in the debate over how to respond to the alleged chemical attack in Syria. Obama made his case overseas during a visit to Sweden. (Sept. 4)
President Barack Obama speaks to reporters Wednesday in Stockholm, Sweden, about his 2012 “red line” comment regarding Syria.
Obama: ‘I Didn’t Set a Red Line’ on Syria”
Published on Sep 4, 2013
“First of all, I didn’t set a red line,” said Obama. “The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn’t something I just kind of made up. I didn’t pluck it out of thin air. There’s a reason for it.”
He added: “When those videos first broke and you saw images of over 400 children subjected to gas, everybody expressed outrage. How can this happen in this modern world? Well, it happened because a government chose to deploy these deadly weapons on civilian populations.”
Later, Secretary of State John Kerry and other top administration officials went before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to confront skeptics and press the administration’s case. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel estimated the cost of a limited strike at tens of millions of dollars.
Kerry said American inaction would “live in infamy,” and he drew analogies to black marks of history — the appeasement of Adolf Hitler before World War II and the U.S.’ refusal to accept a boat full of Jewish refugees from Germany in 1939.
“There are moments when you have to make a decision,” he said. “And I think this is one of those moments.”
He added: “A lot of people out in the Middle East count on us.”
“They count on us to help them be able to transition,” Kerry said.
Asked in Sweden whether he would strike Syria even if Congress does not authorize force, Obama said: “I believe that Congress will approve it.”
He added: “I do not believe that I was required to take this to Congress, but I did not take this to Congress just because it’s an empty exercise. I think it’s important to have Congress’ support on it.”
The president said he was mindful that memories of the Iraq war were fresh, particularly in Europe.
“Keep in mind I’m somebody who opposed the war in Iraq, and am not interested in repeating mistakes of us basing decisions on faulty intelligence,” he said. “But having done a thoroughgoing evaluation of the information that is currently available, I can say with high confidence that chemical weapons were used.”
At Wednesday’s House hearing, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, expressed deep reservations and asked whether Obama would have “bothered to come to Congress” if the British Parliament had passed its own resolution supporting military force. Parliament rejected it instead.
“I believe he absolutely would have,” Kerry said.
In a tense exchange, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said he had recently spoken to a group of eighth-graders “who get it. They get it that we shouldn’t be drug into someone else’s civil war where there are no good guys.”
He praised Kerry for always showing caution with respect to the American armed forces, then asked him whether power was “so intoxicating” to the Obama administration that it couldn’t resist “pulling the trigger” on a conflict.
“I volunteered to fight for my country, and that wasn’t a cautious thing to do when I did it,” Kerry shot back. “I am not going to sit here and be told by you that I don’t have a sense of what the judgment is with respect to this.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked about potential Syrian retaliation. Among the risks he mentioned were that Syria could use rockets to attack its neighbors or American facilities, could encourage surrogate groups to attack American interests or could stage a cyberattack.
Obama on Thursday heads for Russia for a summit of the so-called Group of 20 economic powers. President Vladimir Putin, in something of a surprise, gave an interview in which he did not rule out military action against Syria.
Putin, in an interview with The Associated Press, said that Russia “doesn’t exclude” supporting a United Nations resolution on a strike — if it is proved that the Syrian regime indeed used poison gas on its people.
The United States says it has incontrovertible proof that Syrian leader Bashar Assad gassed more than 1,400 people in a rebel-held neighborhood.
But Putin said that it seems “absolutely absurd” that Syria, an ally of Russia, would use chemical weapons. Syria has the upper hand against the rebels, Putin said, and Syria knows that using chemicals would trigger an international response, perhaps forceful.
Further, Putin said Wednesday that Congress had no right to “legitimize aggression” against Syria, and accused Kerry of lying to Congress about al Qaeda’s role in the conflict, Reuters reported.
Foreign affairs analysts have said that Russia and China, both of which hold veto power as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, would block any American effort to secure U.N. support for a strike.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Thank you Kasie Hunt and Erin McClam, NBC News.
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