An exasperated President Barack Obama tried time and time again to make the case for limited military intervention in Syria, as
reports continue to cast a dark shadow on a resolution’s chances of passing Congress.
“You know, over 1,400 people were gassed. Over 400 of them were children,” Obama said, referring to U.S. evidence that says the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical attack in Syria on Aug. 21.
“This is not something we’ve fabricated. This is not something that we are using as an excuse for military action. As I said last night, I was elected to end wars and not start them. I’ve spent the last four and a half years doing everything I can to reduce our reliance on military power as a means of meeting our international obligations and protecting the American people.”
He sounded like a president who knew, at least, that he was on the cusp of a losing effort in persuading the American public and their representatives of his plan for action in Syria.
He took pains to cast Syrian intervention as “Not Iraq,” “Not Afghanistan.” Not Even Libya. He even acknowledged the unpopularity, saying the White House’s “polling operation” is “pretty good.” He gave no clear signs about whether he’d take action alone if Congress does vote down his plans.
Prefacing his next statement as one that wasn’t meant to be an analogy to World War II, he analogized going ahead with intervention in Syria amid high unpopularity to coming to Britain’s aid when London was bombed in 1940.
He also cited the precedent of the U.S.’s delay in intervention in Rwanda, which President Bill Clinton has often said is his biggest regret from his presidency.
“Imagine if Rwanda was going on right now and we asked, ‘Should we intervene in Rwanda?'” Obama said. “Wouldn’t go over very well.”
Obama’s comments also came as Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to support Syria in case of foreign military intervention.
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