Text of President Barack Obamaís statement on Syria
Good afternoon, everybody. Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people.
Our intelligence shows the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. And all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see ó hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead. All told, well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundred of them were children ó young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government.
This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syriaís borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.
In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted.
Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. But Iím confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.
Our military has positioned assets in the region. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And Iím prepared to give that order.
But having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, Iím also mindful that Iím the president of the worldís oldest constitutional democracy. Iíve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And thatís why Iíve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American peopleís representatives in Congress.
Over the last several days, weíve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and theyíve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.
In the coming days, my administration stands ready to provide every member with the information they need to understand what happened in Syria and why it has such profound implications for Americaís national security. And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote.