The transcript of the President's press conference at the G20 Summit was just released. It's unfortunately a very long transcript and he went on at length about the situation in Syria and the Administration's plans for dealing with it. However, there appears to be a very, very important acknowledgement by Obama buried in the tail end of his statements.
Toward the end of his remarks, Obama observed the following about the alleged use of Sarin gas by the Assad regime. President Obama appears to be acknowledging the possibility, if not probability, that the August 21 chemical attack and previous uses were carried out by military units without the authorization of Assad, the Syrian Minister of Defense, and other high civilian officials:
So, this is not as if we haven’t tested the proposition that the guy — or at least generals under his charge — can show restraint when it comes to this stuff.- MORE -
The transcript of the President's press conference at the G20 Summit was just released. It's unfortunately a very long transcript and he went on at length about the situation in Syria and the Administration's plans for dealing with it. However, there appears to be a [b]very, very important acknowledgement [/b]by Obama buried in the tail end of his statements.
Toward the end of his statements and questions & answers with reporters at the G20 Summit, in response to cross-talk with "Major Garrett": http://swampland.time.com/...
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.That sounds like an acknowledgement to me that Obama is fully aware of the possibility -- perhaps, probability -- that the attack of August 21 was NOT ordered by Assad or the other civilian leaders, but may have been an unauthorized lauch by the military commander of the unit that carried out the attack.
Those of us who remember covering your campaign remember you saying that militarily when the United States acts, it’s not just important what it does, but how it goes about doing it. And that even when America sets its course, it’s important to engage the international community and listen to different ideas even as it’s pursuing that action.
I wonder if you leave here and return to Washington, seeing the skepticism there, hearing it here, with any different ideas that might delay military action. For example, some in Congress have suggested giving the Syrian regime 45 days to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, get rid of its chemical stockpiles, do something that would enhance the international sense of accountability for Syria, but delay military action.
Are you, Mr. President, looking at any of these ideas? Or are we on a fast track to military action as soon as Congress renders its judgment one way or the other?
OBAMA: I am listening to all these ideas. And some of them are constructive. And I’m listening to ideas in Congress and I’m listening to ideas here. Look, I want to repeat here. My goal is to maintain the international norm on banning chemical weapons. I want that enforcement to be real. I want it to be serious. I want people to understand that gassing innocent people, you know, delivering chemical weapons against children, is not something we do.
It’s prohibited in active wars between countries. We certainly don’t do it against kids. And we’ve got to stand up for that principle. If there are tools that we can use to ensure that, obviously my preference would be, again, to act internationally in a serious way and to make sure that Mr. Assad gets the message.
I’m not itching for military action. Recall, Major, that I have been criticized for the last couple of years by some of the folks who are now saying they would oppose these strikes, for not striking. And I think that I have a well-deserved reputation for taking very seriously and soberly the idea of military engagement.
So, we will look at these ideas. So far at least, I have not seen ideas presented that, as a practical matter, I think would do the job. But, you know, this is a situation where part of the reason I wanted to foster debate was to make sure that everybody thought about both the ramifications of action and…
QUESTION: So currently the — the only way to enforce this international norm is militarily and even giving the Assad regime extra time would not achieve your goals.
OBAMA: What I’m saying, Major, is that so far what we’ve seen is a escalation by the Assad regime of chemical weapons use. You’ll recall that several months ago I said — we now say with some confidence that at a small level Assad has used chemical weapons. We not only sent warnings to Assad, but we demarched, meaning, you know, we sent a strong message through countries that have relationships with Assad, that he should not be doing this. And rather than hold the line, we ended up with what we saw on August 21st.
So, this is not as if we haven’t tested the proposition that the guy — or at least generals under his charge — can show restraint when it comes to this stuff. And they’ve got one of the largest stockpiles in the world. But, I want to emphasize, that we continue to consult with our international partners. I’m listening to Congress. I’m not just doing the talking. And if there are good ideas that are worth pursuing, then I’m going to be open to them.I will take, last question, Tangy, AFP.
So, this is not as if we haven’t tested the proposition that the guy — or at least generals under his charge — can show restraint when it comes to this stuff.[/b]
So, we must ask, how can he expect that it will be either effective or even morally justifiable for the US to launch a punative attack against the Syrian government with the goal of regime change under these circumstances?
Finally, another statement by Obama also caught our eye: "We now say with some confidence that at a small level Assad has used chemical weapons."
That leads to another question, "Some confidence? At a small level? The President of the United States is willing to engage in military action on what is effectively a 'hunch?'"
No one has proved that Assad (or any other official in his regime) authorized the use of chemical weapons. In fact, the evidence is murky, with all sides claiming the other did it.