President Barack Obama today declared the world’s credibility “is on the line” when it comes to punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad for his regime’s purported use of chemical weapons.
Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, ahead of a global economic summit in Russia where he will seek to rally support for a U.S. military strike against Syria, Obama said the “red line” he set against a year ago against Syria’s use of chemical weapons isn’t his, but an international standard.
“I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line,” Obama said. “My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility’s on the line.”
Yet the difficulty Obama faces in achieving a global consensus was illustrated at the press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt , who decried the use of chemical weapons and said he understood Obama’s predicament, but said Sweden wants United Nations involvement and a political resolution to the carnage in Syria.
“I understand the problem of not having a reaction to abuse of chemical weapons and what kind of signal that sends to the world,” Reinfeldt said, adding, “But this small country will always say ‘Let’s put our hope into the United Nations, let us push on some more to get a better situation.’ ”
Obama staunchly defended his push for a strike, evoking the death of children from exposure to chemical weapons.
“The moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing,” Obama said. “I do have to ask people if in fact you’re outraged by the slaughter of innocent people, what are you doing about it?”
Though Obama has chosen to act before a UN investigation is completed, he said U.S. intelligence shows there’s no doubt that chemical weapons were used by the regime.
“Keep in mind I’m somebody who opposed the war in Iraq, and I’m not interested in repeating mistakes about basing decisions on faulty intelligence,” Obama said.
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