Obama says action in Syria would be ‘limited, narrow’

August 30, 2013

President Obama said Friday that he is considering a "limited, narrow act" in response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons against its people.

"We're not considering any open-ended commitment," Obama said, according to a pool report. "We're not considering any boots on the ground approach."

Obama's comments come after Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a forceful case for why action is warranted. Obama said the response he is considering would not constitute a "major operation."

He expressed disappointment that other countries aren't stepping forward to help. The British Parliament on Thursday voted against the use of force — a rebuke to Prime Minister David Cameron.

“A lot of people think something should be done but nobody wants to do it," Obama said, acknowledging the war-weariness that exists.

"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," Obama said. "That is a danger to our national security."

Obama repeated that he has yet to decide what course to take, and said: "We have consulted with allies. We have consulted with Congress."

House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office said Friday that Obama would be wise to continue consulting with Congress.

“As we have said, if the president believes this information makes a military response imperative, it is his responsibility to explain to Congress and the American people the objectives, strategy and legal basis for any potential action," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. "We – and the American people – look forward to more answers from the White House.”

Obama acknowledged the need for congressional involvement but also suggested the need for quick action.

"We’re very mindful of that … but ultimately we don’t want the world to be paralyzed," he said.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), meanwhile, said the report released Friday about Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons demands an international response.

“The unclassified intelligence assessment released today tracks closely with briefings I have received over the past week," Feinstein said. "I agree with Secretary Kerry that the world cannot let such a heinous attack pass without a meaningful response, and I hope the international community will take appropriate action.”

Originally posted at 2:49 p.m. This post has been updated.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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