President Barack Obama said Wednesday that there was plenty of credibility on the line over the world’s response in Syria — of Congress and of the international community as a whole.
“My credibility is not on the line,” Obama said during a joint press conference in Sweden, where he spoke after a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. “International credibility is on the line.”
His remarks came as Congress is in the midst of debating a resolution that would authorise limited U.S. military force in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his own people on Aug. 21.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will begin markup and debate Wednesday on a compromise resolution that authorizes military action for a 60-day period, while specifically barring any ground troops from being deployed in Syria.
Obama expressed confidence that Congress would pass a resolution because their credibility was on the line. He also said that Congress had a responsibility to uphold an international “red line” — a reference to a comment he famously made last August, when he said that the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” that would “change [his] calculus” on U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war.
On Wednesday, he said that the “red line” applied to all parties involved — because “98%” of countries, he said, signed on to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which banned the production, stockpiling, preparation, and use of chemical weapons. Congress, he said, also set a “red line” when it ratified the treaty, as well as when it passed the Syria Accountability Act in 2003.
“So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons — which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong — that wasn’t something I just kind of made up,” Obama said. “I didn’t pluck it out of thin air. There’s a reason for it.”
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