Here’s what Obama should say at this point about Syria:
My statement earlier this year about the use of chemical weapons being a red line remains true. This activity cannot be accepted by any nation, or league of nations, that considers itself morally responsible.
That being said, there have been an number of developments in the region in recent weeks. The most important of these developments is that it’s no longer clear who, if anyone, is the “good guy” in this situation. We know Assad’s regime to be responsible for reprehensible actions–including the use of chemical weapons, but we also know that the opposition forces are comprised of major factions that are openly hostile to the United States. This means any support we were to give could lead directly against our interests in the near future.
Further complicating this is the fact that just under the covers of the visible regime change conflict lies a brewing civil war–even within the opposition. At its heart, this is a Sunni and Shia issue, and it will not be resolved by United States strikes against one side or the other.
As a result of the situation currently on the ground, I simply cannot see how even targeted military strikes by the United States help either American or Syrian interests, and I am hereby moving the United States response to a humanitarian and diplomatic stance.
The United States will be sending 50 Million dollars to the region for the purpose of setting up refuge camps in three different areas. We have also secured equal contributions from 17 other nations, including the U.K., France, Germany, and Finland. In addition, we will be heading a multi-national negotiation panel in Switzerland talks for any parties within Syria that that would like to participate in talks, or any interested groups that would like to propose solutions.
I want to reiterate that what Assad’s government has done by using chemical weapons is reprehensible and that it should and will be addressed by the world. The situation on the ground, however, is such that the best thing that the international community can do is to try our best to help those being hurt most by this–the people of Syria who are dying by the hundreds of thousands and are suffering greatly.
This does a few things:
- Reiterates that we’re not ignoring the fact that chemical weapons were used
- Shows that we are not interested in getting in the middle of their civil war
- Focuses on what’s practical for improving the situation, i.e. humanitarian/diplomatic help