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Israeli Firsters Urge President Obama to Respond to Assad's Chemical Attack

By James Kirchick, Christopher J. Griffin, Dan Senor, Robert Zarate, Robert Kagan, William Kristol

August 31, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "Foreign Policy Initiative" - WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seventy-four former U.S. government officials and foreign policy experts have now signed a bipartisan open letter to President Barack Obama, urging a decisive response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's recent large-scale use of chemical weapons. The group recommends direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime, along with accelerated efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria's internal opposition.

"Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats," the group warned in the letter. "It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable."

The full text of the letter follows. The letter was organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a non-profit and non-partisan 501(c)3 organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the world.
 

August 27, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama                                               
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:
 
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has once again violated your red line, using chemical weapons to kill as many as 1,400 people in the suburbs of Damascus.  You have said that large-scale use of chemical weapons in Syria would implicate “core national interests,” including “making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies [and] our bases in the region.”  The world—including Iran, North Korea, and other potential aggressors who seek or possess weapons of mass of destruction—is now watching to see how you respond.
 
We urge you to respond decisively by imposing meaningful consequences on the Assad regime.  At a minimum, the United States, along with willing allies and partners, should use standoff weapons and airpower to target the Syrian dictatorship’s military units that were involved in the recent large-scale use of chemical weapons.  It should also provide vetted moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition with the military support required to identify and strike regime units armed with chemical weapons.
 
Moreover, the United States and other willing nations should consider direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime.  The objectives should be not only to ensure that Assad’s chemical weapons no longer threaten America, our allies in the region or the Syrian people, but also to deter or destroy the Assad regime’s airpower and other conventional military means of committing atrocities against civilian non-combatants.  At the same time, the United States should accelerate efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition, with the goal of empowering them to prevail against both the Assad regime and the growing presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated and other extremist rebel factions in the country.
 
Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats.  It is a dangerous and destabilizing message that will surely come to haunt us—one that will certainly embolden Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability despite your repeated warnings that doing so is unacceptable.  It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable.

 
Sincerely,

  Ammar Abdulhamid Ambassador Robert G. Joseph
  Elliott Abrams Dr. Robert Kagan
  Dr. Fouad Ajami Lawrence F. Kaplan
  Michael Allen James Kirchick
  Dr. Michael Auslin Irina Krasovskaya
  Gary Bauer Dr. William Kristol
  Paul Berman Bernard-Henri Levy
  Max Boot Dr. Robert J. Lieber
  Ellen Bork Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
  Ambassador L. Paul Bremer Tod Lindberg
  Matthew R. J. Brodsky Mary Beth Long
  Dr. Eliot A. Cohen Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken
  Senator Norm Coleman Dr. Michael Makovsky
  Ambassador William Courtney Ann Marlowe
  Seth Cropsey Clifford D. May
  James S. Denton Dr. Alan Mendoza
  Paula A. DeSutter David A. Merkel
  Dr. Larry Diamond Dr. Joshua Muravchik
  Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky Ambassador Andrew Natsios
  Thomas Donnelly Governor Tim Pawlenty
  Dr. Michael Doran Martin Peretz
  Mark Dubowitz Danielle Pletka
  Dr. Colin Dueck Dr. David Pollock
  Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt Arch Puddington
  Ambassador Eric S. Edelman Karl Rove
  Douglas J. Feith Randy Scheunemann
  Reuel Marc Gerecht Dan Senor
  Abe Greenwald Ambassador John Shattuck
  Christopher J. Griffin Lee Smith
  John P. Hannah Henry D. Sokolski
  Dr. Jeffrey Herf James Traub
  Peter R. Huessy Ambassador Mark D. Wallace
  Dr. William Inboden Michael Weiss
  Bruce Pitcairn Jackson Leon Wieseltier
  Ash Jain Khawla Yusuf
  Dr. Kenneth Jensen Robert Zarate
  Allison Johnson Dr. Radwan Ziadeh

From the archives: PNAC letters sent to President Bill Clinton - We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War.

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