President Barrack Obama addressed the nation about the possible military attack against Syria on Tuesday night. President Obama decided to approve a limited air strike if the Riad al-Asaad regime does not turn over their weapons or if those weapons test positive for sarin. This move is in accordance with the conditions of the U.N. treaty on chemical warfare.
President Obama began his speech by addressing the fact that more than 100,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian civil war more than three years ago, while millions of others have fled the country. He said he has resisted military action up to this point because he does not believe that U.S. can or should resolve the civil wars of other countries. Obama said his attitude towards military action changed the day Asaad gassed more than 1,000 of his own people, hundreds of them young children. In that moment, he said, the world was able to see the effects of the use of chemical weapons.
On Aug. 21, the basic international rules preventing the use of chemical weapons were violated.
“No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria. We know the Asaad regime was guilty of these attacks. Asaad distributed gas masks to his own military just days before the attack,” Obama said.
The president said hospitals in Syria filled quickly with the injured and the poisoned after the attack. Samples of hair and blood have tested positive for sarin, which is a known component of chemical weapons.
Obama went on to say that when atrocities occur in nations of civil unrest, those governments think other countries will turn the other cheek and eventually forget about it. But, he said, people can’t forget about the horrific images coming from Syria from these attacks.
Obama said what happened in Syria was against international law and infringed on national security.
“If we don’t act, the Asaad regime will continue to use chemical warfare on the battlefield and use these weapons to attack civilians,” Obama said. “In a failure to stand against chemical weapons, it would weaken prohibition against other weapons of mass destruction. I am determined that it is in the best interest of national security to respond to the regime through a targeted airstrike against the Asaad regime.”
During his speech, Obama addressed written questions from U.S. citizens, military personnel and members of Congress. One person asked whether this would put the U.S. on a slippery slope into another war.
“I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria,” Obama said. “I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign. I have approved a limited air strike to refute the use of chemical weapons.”
Obama stated repeatedly that the U.S. military should not be the world’s policemen and that he has a deeply held belief in non-war and using peaceful approaches, including sanctions. He said because of the threat of military action, the Russian government has moved to encourage Asaad to give up their chemical weapons. Obama asked Congress to postpone a vote in order to give Syria a chance to give up their weapons and to wait for the results from the U.N. testing. These are expected to be released on Sept. 21, after their investigation into Syria’s chemical weapons is complete.