President Obama said Friday that he sympathizes with Americans’ war-weariness but is considering a “limited, narrow” military response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
“A lot of people think something should be done, but nobody wants to do it,” Mr. Obama said shortly after his administration made its most forceful case to date that the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad killed more than 1,400 of its own civilians on Aug. 21 near Damascus using chemical weapons.
“There is a certain weariness, given Afghanistan,” the president said. “There is a certain suspicion of any military action, post-Iraq. And I very much appreciate that.”
But Mr. Obama said the U.S. and other nations cannot allow a large-scale chemical attack to go unpunished.
“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.”
In spite of his strong words, Mr. Obama said he still hasn’t decided whether to launch a military strike against Syria.
“I have not made a final decision about various actions that might be taken,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach.”
Mr. Obama noted that his administration has consulted with allies and Congress. Key members of Congress received a briefing on Syria Thursday night.
“This kind of attack is a challenge to the world,” he said. “We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale.”