U.S. envoy Power argues for military option on Syria

WASHINGTON Fri Sep 6, 2013 5:36pm EDT

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power speaks to the press following a the United Nations Security Council meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power speaks to the press following a the United Nations Security Council meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, September 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Samantha Power, in her first major speech as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, argued Friday that a limited military strike was the only option left to respond to a chemical weapons attack in Syria after diplomatic efforts had stalled.

"Some have asked, given our collective war-weariness, why we cannot use non-military tools to achieve the same end? My answer to this question is: we have exhausted the alternatives," Power said at the Center for American Progress.

Power spoke as President Barack Obama struggled to convince Congress to approve a military strike against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people on August 21.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, she said, "has barely put a dent in his enormous stockpile. And the international community has clearly not yet put a dent in his willingness to use them."

Power, a lawyer and human rights advocate who wrote the book "A Problem from Hell" about inaction on genocides, described the chemical weapons attack as an "atrocity" and "murderous behavior." U.S. intelligence agencies have said 1,429 people were killed, including at least 426 children.

She lay blame for diplomatic obstacles on Russia just hours after Obama, attending an international summit, held a news conference in St. Petersburg in which he avoided saying whether he would take military action in Syria if the U.S. Congress voted against it.

"Russia, often backed by China, has blocked every relevant action in the Security Council," Power said.

"In Assad's cost-benefit calculus, he must have weighed the military benefits of using this hideous weapon against the recognition that he could get away with it because Russia would have Syria's back in the Security Council," she said.

About a dozen anti-war protesters gathered outside the building's entrance where Power was speaking.

"If we cannot summon the courage to act when the evidence is clear, and when the action being contemplated is limited, then our ability to lead in the world is compromised," she said.

(Editing by Fred Barbash and Eric Walsh)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (15)
RonRaygun wrote:
‘Barely dented’, or didn’t use at all? How about some facts, instead of these pseudo fictions designed to aggravate the situation? If the US cared about humanitarian crisis, it should resolve the crisis’ of it’s two last illegal wars, which have vastly surpassed anything going on in Syria.

Sep 06, 2013 3:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
kopasetic wrote:
Dear Ms. Power, kindly provide the world with evidence verified by the UN inspectors that the chemical attack was doen by Mr. Assad. Can you do that dear ? No one gives a crap about the stockpiles he has because the issue is not the stockpiles, the issue is who is responsible for the attack. But nice try with the diversion tactic.
Yours truly,
Citizens of the world that are informed and paying attention

Sep 06, 2013 3:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
BruceBanner wrote:
Americans realize the “rebels” (like the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra) have mortars and rockets, right?
That they’ve fought a modern State Military to a standstill using $billions in weapons from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Qatar, France and the CIA?
I’m still puzzled by Kerry’s lie that “the Rebels don’t have the technology to deliver sarin”.

Sarin was delivered by plastic bags left on the floor of subway trains in Tokyo by the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo- there’s many ways to ‘deliver’ it.
Including the rockets and mortars that the “rebels” (many foreign-born fighters, like the Islamic State of Iraq fighters, who have experience with Saddam’s chemical weapons) have.
And yes, they can infiltrate “state-held territory” in Damascus at 2am – and yes, they can fire at “only rebel-held territory” – that’s the whole POINT in setting up Assad for the blame, isn’t it ?

And if the rebels DID do what many think they did,
it’s working PERFECTLY – the USA is rushing to start bombing Assad, even before the UN inspectors finish their first analysis of the attack scene.

The US PowersThatBe want to use their humongous Military again – but the “cover story” that convinces their population to get on board becomes weaker and weaker in the Internet Age, when people can actually look at their lies more closely.

Sep 06, 2013 4:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.