President Barack Obama said Friday that the use of chemical weapons are “a challenge to the world” and that he is considering a “limited, narrow act” to respond to Syria’s alleged attacks on civilians.
Speaking briefly before a meeting with leaders of the Baltic states, the president said that he has not made a final decision on how to respond to the reported use of chemical weapons by Syrian president Bashar Assad, but he reiterated that the “wide range of options” being considered by the administration does not include troops in the region.
“In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long-term campaign, but we are looking at the possibility of a limited narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria but others around the world understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm,” he said.
The president’s remarks came just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a forceful case that the United States must respond to the “crime against humanity” allegedly committed by Assad.
Acknowledging Americans’ weariness of war after the protracted conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kerry said that “fatigue does not absolve us of responsibility” to address atrocities abroad.
Obama echoed that sentiment Friday, adding that "a lot of people think something should be done but nobody wants to do it."
"It’s important for us to recognize that when over a thousand people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we’re sending a signal,” he said. “That is a danger to our national security."
The president said that he will continue to consult with Congress and American allies about the path forward in Syria, but he emphasized that a political solution must be the ultimate goal to resolve the root conflict in the civil war-torn nation.
“What we will do is consider options that meet the narrow concern around chemical weapons, understanding that there’s not going to be a solely military solution to the underlying conflict and tragedy that’s taking place in Syria,” he said.