Obama declines to say if will strike Syria if U.S. Congress votes 'no'

ST. PETERSBURG Fri Sep 6, 2013 11:02am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday declined to speculate whether he would go ahead with a military strike in Syria if Congress votes against authorizing it, saying he would try to convince Americans and lawmakers of the need to act against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"I put it before Congress because I could not honestly claim that the threat posed by Assad's use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians and women and children posed an imminent, direct threat to the United States," Obama said in a news conference at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.

If there had been a direct threat to the United States or allies, Obama said he would have taken action without consulting Congress.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton, Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (2)
Eideard wrote:
Obama has displayed as little respect for international standards as his predecessor. The only difference is of glibness. I expect the same from a democratic encounter from a Congress stirred only for the first time by a principled question – instead of the usual dedication to sophistry.

Sep 06, 2013 1:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RobertFrost wrote:
If the President wished to strike Syria without Congressional approval he would have done that before.

But then, the entire affair seems to be so badly managed. The administration convinced itself that Britain and France would be automatically on board, and the weight of Germany is never considered in such matters due to historical reasons!

In reality, neither Britain nor France is on board. Britain opted out at the earliest opportunity, and France’s public opinion is opposed to the war, with the French President now imposing more conditions on the participation of France – a conviction of Syria by the Weapons Inspectors, something unlikely to happen.

Probably Britain’s abandonment of the President was key in his referring the matter to Congress, an action he may not have taken otherwise. But if he went ahead with the strike, the US would be practically alone.

In the event, the damage to the US in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world, would be incalculable. It would appear as a brazen aggression in the face of a strong international opposition. The victim would appear as a small country, whose government continues to deny the accusations, and one that has many friends, particularly among the developing nations who believe, like most of the G20 countries, that the guilt of the Syrian regime has not been established!

To that, one may add that much damage to the US, in that direction, is already done. And the more the US administration tries to seek international and domestic support, the greater the damage in the absence of proof of guilt of the Syrian regime.

In the case of Iraq, the “Coalition of the Willing,” a sickening oxymoronic if not illiterate label, was concluded after the invasion. It contained every single country dependent on US taxpayer’s dollar to survive, in addition to a few like Britain, France, Australia and Japan. The participation benefited from the fact that whatever damage to be done is already done, and it is best now to please the victor!

Senator Kerry as the Presidential candidate uncovered this opportunism. In the Second Presidential Debate he said, “[w]hen we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the United States. That’s not a grand coalition. We can do better.”
And surely this is what he aims to do now!

The administration is said to be awaiting the meeting of the UN General Assembly on the 26th September, according to statements made by some of President Obama entourage in St. Petersburg. Members of the previous coalition, like Fiji Islands, Macedonia, Albania, Thailand, etc. are probably prepared to dispatch their elite brigades without much painful arm-twisting .

Hopefully Moldova who would send again its 24 soldiers, Tonga bring back its 55 and Iceland its 2, to assist, this time, in the invasion rather than lie back in the heat of Baghdad secure in the Green Zone after the brief photo-ops!

The “coalitionees,” one might say, were handsomely paid by the US taxpayer. The participation was on the basis of door-to-door service, including travel, lodgings, food and entertainment. The latter, however, excluded killing Iraqis. This “premium” level was reserved for the founder of the “Coalition” and trhe “early-bird” member, Britain and France!

Few doubts if it would not be a better repeat performance than the invasion of Iraq, and many cannot find a reason why it would not lead to the same (victorious) end, as well.

Syria, with a population close to that of Iraq before the migration of 4 million Iraqis to neighboring countries, should prepare to suffer between 600,000 and 1,000,000 dead, double or triple the number wounded, a sizable proportion maimed for life and many generations prone to suffer all sorts of cancers from the Uranium used, in “depleted” form, of course!

In the meantime, the administration is yet to prove to the American public whether chemical weapons were used, and who used them. But this of course, is of a secondary if importance, if at all!

Sep 06, 2013 5:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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