President Barack Obama said Wednesday that nothing less than the entire international community’s credibility is at stake in the debate over whether Syria’s government will face consequences for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
“My credibility is not on the line,” Obama said during a joint news conference in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. “The international community’s credibility is on the line and America’s and Congress’ credibility is on the line.”
Pushing back against the idea that he’s pursuing military action against Syrian strongman Bashar Assad because he had previously called the use of chemical weapons a “red line,” Obama said there’s a clear historical precedent for not tolerating a government using such weapons against its own citizens.
“I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line,” Obama said.
And in an ominous reference to the millions of people slaughtered during the Holocaust, Obama added: “People in Europe are certainly familiar with what happens when the international community decides not to act.”
Obama, who is seeking congressional support for a military response to an attack last month in which Assad’s government is said to have killed hundreds with chemical weapons, insisted that he made “every effort to support diplomacy.”
“I do think that we have to act, because if we don’t… somebody who is not shamed by resolutions can continue to act with impunity.”