Quoted below are President Obama; Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and, before that, a journalist and writer; and Valerie Amos, U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs.
“The Security Council . . . being appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the death of well over 100,000 people in Syria, including over 10,000 children . . . demands that all parties immediately put an end to all forms of violence.”
“The Council also made clear that in the event of noncompliance, it is prepared to take further action. . . . Let us be clear. This is the most catastrophic humanitarian crisis any of us have seen in a generation. . . . The people of Syria are counting on us all.”
“The Assad regime may be sure that our scrutiny of its actions, as well as any of those who would recruit or target children, will not let up until our demands are met and the savagery is stopped.”
“Three years after the start of Syria’s conflict, we estimate that more than 9 million people need aid and protection inside Syria and another 2.5 million have fled the country. . . . We have not been allowed to help them. . . . An entire generation of children has been traumatized and brutalized.”
“There’s nothing that I can do and that we can do unilaterally to make the council do what we want. And so we are engaging in consultations.”
“I would note that those who criticize our foreign policy with respect to Syria, they themselves say, no, no, no, we don’t mean sending in troops. Well, what do you mean? . . . We’re assisting the opposition. . . . We’re getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike. So what else are you talking about?”
“Far from getting better, the situation is getting worse. Violence has further intensified over the past month, taking a horrific toll on ordinary Syrians. . . . These are not just words. We have all seen the appalling impact: heartrending pictures of children pulled from the rubble, of families cowering in ruined buildings.”
“[W]hy is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?”
“The United States should not frame its policy options in terms of doing nothing or unilaterally sending in the marines. . . . [T]he United States should do certain things in every case. . . . With its allies, it should set up safe areas to house refugees and civilians, and protect them with well-armed and robustly mandated peacekeepers, airpower, or both.”
“I told the council that it is unacceptable that the parties to the conflict continue to deny besieged communities food, medicines and freedom of movement. And it is unacceptable that convoys with life-saving supplies are still prevented from entering hard-to-reach areas.
“The time for waiting is over. . . . Every day that the international community fails to prevent the harming of Syrians for military gain, we allow the achievements of 150 years of humanitarian principles to be further eroded.”
“Today, Syria is at ground zero of the most appalling humanitarian catastrophe of our era.”
“There are going to be times where there are disasters and difficulties and challenges all around the world, and not all of those are going to be immediately solvable by us.”
“The real reason the United States did not do what it could and should have done to stop genocide was not a lack of knowledge or influence but a lack of will. Simply put, American leaders did not act because they did not want to. . . . They played up the likely futility, perversity, and jeopardy of any proposed intervention. . . . [T]he U.S. record is not one of failure. It is one of success. Troubling though it is to acknowledge, U.S. officials worked the system and the system worked.”