WASHINGTON: September -07, 2013 -MIL/ TOI - Inaction is not an option for the United States in Syria after a horrendous chemical attack, President Barack Obama said on Saturday as he urged holdout lawmakers to back a military strike.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria,” Obama said in his weekly address.
“That’s why I call on members of Congress, from both parties, to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in; the kind of world we want to leave our children and future generations.”
Congress reconvenes on Monday and Obama addresses the nation on Tuesday about a possible US response to the August 21 attack that left hundreds dead on the outskirts of Damascus.
But he has already acknowledged that convincing lawmakers to back military action against the Syrian regime would be a “heavy lift.”
According to a Washington Post survey, 224 of the current 433 House members were either “no” or “leaning no” on military action as of Friday. A large number, 184, were undecided, with just 25 backing a strike.
The skepticism is also prevalent among the people the lawmakers represent. A Gallup survey showed 51 percent of Americans oppose strikes in Syria compared to 36 percent in favor, a larger opposition ratio than before the onset of the Gulf War of 1991, Kosovo (1999) Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).
In his address, Obama said he wanted to strike Syria and punish President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security,” he said.