Saturday, August 31, 2013

Obama says US has 'obligation' to act on Syria, cites intel findings

President Obama signaled Friday that the U.S. could act alone to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack last week, saying the nation has an "obligation as a leader in the world" to hold rogue regimes to account for breaching the rules of war. 

Facing rising skepticism in Congress and abroad, the president and top Cabinet officials tried to make a robust case for intervention on Friday -- releasing an intelligence report showing "high confidence" the Assad regime carried out the strike and arguing that responding would be in the U.S. interest. 

"This kind of attack is a challenge to the world," Obama said, adding: "A lot of people think something should be done, but nobody wants to do it." 

He said his preference would be to form an international coalition to respond, but "we don't want the world to be paralyzed." Obama said he hasn't yet made a decision, but is considering a "limited, narrow act" to send a message to Syria and others about the use of chemical weapons. 

The comments put in stark terms the Obama administration's position on the possibility of a military response -- and particularly a missile strike -- despite fraying international support. 

The administration so far has failed to win over the U.N. Security Council, and British lawmakers on Thursday voted to reject any participation in a military strike. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, though, indicated they were prepared to move forward and downplayed the importance of U.N. authorization.

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