Washington: Failing to find support at home and abroad,
a`lonely president` Barack Obama hinted at an imminent unilateral US military
strike to punish Syria for its alleged use of banned chemical weapons.
In what the influential New York Times called
"an aggressive and coordinated push to justify a military
intervention" Obama even as he Friday declared himself
"war-weary" vowed to hold Syria accountable for its actions.
"It is not in the national security interests
of the United States to ignore clear violations" of what he called an
"international norm" banning the use of chemical weapons, Obama said.
He called the Syrian attack a "challenge to the
world" that threatens US allies Israel, Turkey and Jordan while increasing
the risk of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
"So, I have said before, and I meant what I
said that, the world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm
against the use of chemical weapons," Obama said.
Obama`s statement to reporters at a meeting with
visiting heads of Baltic nations, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia came shortly
after Secretary of State John Kerry released a declassified US intelligence
report expressing "high confidence" about Syrian use of chemical
Even as United Nations weapons inspectors headed
home with evidence and witness accounts collected from the sites of alleged
chemical weapons attacks, the US report declared that President Bashar
al-Assad`s regime`s Aug 21 attack on rebel controlled areas had killed 1429
Many of Obama`s allies and critics want him to wait
for the release of the report UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to
present to the UN Security Council sometime next week.
But Obama Friday cited "the inability of the
Security Council to move in the face of a clear violation of international
norms" as justification for the hinted strike.
"My preference would have been that the
international community already would have acted," he said expressing frustration
with the lack of international support. "A lot of people think something
should be done, but nobody seems willing to do it."
Experts said that a military strike hinted at Obama
would entail cruise missiles fired from US Navy ships at Syrian command targets
-- but not at any chemical weapons stockpiles.
In an editorial titled "Absent on Syria"
the Times said Obama was moving toward unilateral military action "without
legal justification and without the backing of two key institutions,"
Congress and the UN Security Council.
"Both have abdicated their roles in dealing
with this crisis," it said.
"Even in the best of circumstances, military
action could go wrong in so many ways; the lack of strong domestic and
international support will make it even more difficult," the Times opined
However, the Washington Post editorially exhorted
that "US must act against crimes against humanity."
"A line has been crossed; if there are no
consequences, it will be crossed again, it said suggesting "the US
response should be strong enough to prevent Mr. Assad from committing further
Calling Obama "the lonely president",
Politico, an influential Washington news site noted he "had hoped for a
quick, convincing strike on Syria, but growing opposition and Great Britain`s
stunning rejection of the attack has thrust him into the uncomfortable position
of go-it-alone hawk."
There were few takers for the limited strike option
hinted at by Obama at home too.
More than 160 legislators, including 63 of Obama`s
fellow Democrats, signed letters calling for either a vote or at least a
"full debate" before any US action.
An NBC News poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday
found 50 percent of the public against US military action with 42 percent saying
military action would be appropriate.