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Barack Obama ready to strike Syria but stops to seek Congress nod

Last Updated: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 16:00

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Washington: In what seems to be turning from an international issue to a domestic American political debate, US lawmakers will on Tuesday weigh in on President Barack Obama`s proposal to attack Syria in a public hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Having announced in an address at White House Rose Garden yesterday that he will seek "authorization for the use of force from the American people`s representatives in Congress", Obama sent the military strike proposal letter to the Senate and the heads of the House of Representatives.

Obama`s proposal asks Congress to adopt a resolution that would authorise the use of military force "to deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction."

Having clearly stated that Syrian regime was responsible for gassing to death 1429 people including innocent children and women, on August 21, Barack Obama yesterday asserted that the US should strike on Syria and that US was prepared to strike "whenever we choose".

Stressing on the urgency to carry out the strike, Obama revealed how prepared the US naval forces were to launch a strike by saying, "Our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I`m prepared to give that order".

As commander-in-chief, the US President has the authority to carry out strikes without Congress nod, but Obama stressed on the need to have a debate and a vote on Syria strike saying "these issues are too big for business as usual" and that "the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective".

"I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective," Obama said.

Urging the lawmakers to think above the "politics of the moment" while debating over Syria attack proposal, Obama said, "I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment."
"Ultimately, this is not about who occupies this office at any given time; it`s about who we are as a country", Obama said.

Seeking to muster Congressional support, Obama said, it was important to enforce accountability in the face of the heinous chemical attack otherwise it would have further disastrous implications.
"What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?" Obama questioned.

Reiterating the importance of Syria chemical attack issue, Obama appealed to Congressional members to take hard decisions and not to turn away from "the massacre of countless civilians with chemical weapons" in Syria.

"There are no easy options. But I wasn`t elected to avoid hard decisions. And neither were the members of the House and the Senate.. I`m ready to act in the face of this outrage. Today I`m asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation," Obama said.

Slamming the UN for inaction, Obama said that the US would not wait for the UN inspectors to conclude on the chemical weapons as the United Nations Security Council was "paralysed" completely and "unwilling to hold Assad accountable".

The UN experts on Saturday reached Netherlands with the samples of the chemical attacks which were carried near Damascus suburb. The samples would be sent for tests in various laboratories in Europe.

As US Navy warships have positioned themselves in the Mediterranean Sea for launching strikes on Syria whenever ordered, Syrian residents have begun gearing up for the imminent situation by stocking up the food and the fuel.

Several others have escaped to Lebanon fearing the strikes.

First Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 11:43
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