On the heels of hour by hour changes of the nature of the situation in Syria, President Barack Obama delivered a speech Tuesday night that reiterated his view that the allegations of Syrian chemical weapons holdings endangers American security and violates the world’s “sense of common humanity.”
“If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons,” Obama said. “The purpose of a strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons and make clear to the world we will not tolerate their use.”
The President also told the population that a targeted strike on the Syrian leadership is still a very real possibility, expressing little faith that Russia would be able to deter Syria from holding on to some chemical weapons and possibly using them in the future.
“The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons,” the President said. “The Assad regime has now admitting that it has these weapons and even said they’d join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.
“It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments, but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.”
While Obama claimed no American boots would hit Syrian soil, his rhetoric left open the possibility of a devastating military strike.
“The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks,” he said. “Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver.”
Obama’s bottom line, it seems, is that diplomacy is likely to fail and the American public should be prepared for a forthcoming strike.
A Congressional vote on an attack on Syria remains postponed and Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart Thursday to further discuss the prospect of Syria’s chemical disarmament.