Even as some of his aides create the impression that a military strike on Syria is imminent, President Barack Obama says he has not made a decision on how to proceed.
He did assert, however, to a war-weary nation that possible U.S. involvement would not be a repeat of long, drawn-out conflicts of recent past.
“We can take limited, tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of, you know, Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about,” Obama said he said in an interview with PBS NewsHour after his speech at the “Let Freedom Ring” event in Washington.
“But if we are saying in a clear and decisive but very limited way — we send a shot across the bow saying, stop doing this, that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term, may have a positive impact on our national security over the long term, and may have a positive impact in the sense that chemical weapons are not used again on innocent civilians.”
Obama also said, firmly, that the U.S. has “concluded” that the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad carried out the recent chemical-weapons attack that killed hundreds of people — something that echoed comments from Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden over the past two days. Obama cited the need to send a “pretty strong signal” to Assad.
Obama made the case that a response was in the U.S.’s national interest, pointing out that Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the region. He said he worried that they could fall in the hands of terrorists.
“We cannot see a breach of the nonproliferation norm that allows, potentially, chemical weapons to fall into the hands of all kinds of folks,” Obama said.
Obama’s comments on Syria came about an hour after House Speaker John Boehner wrote him a letter that asked him to outline specific answers to questions about any possible military action.
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