NBC News reports: With Obama set to address the nation Tuesday night to advocate U.S. intervention against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, just 24 percent of Americans believe military action in response to Assad’s reported use of chemical weapons is in the United States’ interest.
CBS News: In an interview Monday, President Obama responded to a surprising late proposal that could head off a military strike against Syria. The Syrians agreed to a Russian proposal to put their chemical weapons under international control and destroy them.
I talked to President Obama about that, and about a threat Syrian dictator Bashar Assad made during an interview with Charlie Rose.
SCOTT PELLEY: Can you accept the Russian/Syrian proposal?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, we don’t know the details of it yet. But I think that it is a potentially positive development. I don’t think that we would’ve gotten to the point where they even put something out there publicly, had it not been — and if it doesn’t continue to be a credible — military threat from the United States and those who support Syria’s responses to what happened inside of Syria. But, you know, my central goal throughout this process has not been to embroil ourselves in a civil war in Syria.
I have shown great restraint, I think, over the last two years, despite the heartbreak that’s happened there. But what I have said is that the ban on chemical weapon use is something that is of U.S. national interest. It protects our troops, so that they don’t have to wear gas masks whenever they’re in theater, the weapons by definition are indiscriminate and don’t differentiate between somebody in uniform and a child.
Which is to say, they are unlike America’s smart weapons systems which have supernatural powers of discrimination and target the guilty while protecting the innocent.
No doubt a 2 per cent accuracy rate in differentiating between civilians and suspected terrorists leaves room for improvement, but having set the benchmark for indiscriminate killing in Hiroshima, the United States has been making huge strides ever since.
The 15,000 lb Daisy Cutter that has been replaced by the 22,000 lb Mother of All Bombs. The blast from the later produces a shock wave that can kill people up to 1.7 miles away and obliterates everything up to a 1,000 yards. Maybe that’s a bit indiscriminate.
Perhaps Obama can stand on more solid ground if he avoids suggesting that one weapons system is significantly more discriminating than another.
The indiscriminate nature of the violence used by the Assad regime has had less to do with differences between conventional and unconventional weapons, and much more to do with the fact that these weapons are being used to destroy whole cities in Syria and cause a quarter of the population to flee their homes.
The use of chemical weapons last month certainly had catastrophic results, but let’s keep in mind the big picture: Syria is a country with a government whose actions have resulted in more than 6 million people becoming homeless.