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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 10, 2013 8:00pm-1:01am EDT

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frameworks that can help resolve the conflict in syria and build a safer and stronger international community moving forward. i firmly believe i firmly believe the recent potential for progress in today's human discussion is a testament to american democracy. by president obama fulfilling his duties to come to congress and through our serious debates here on capitol hill, i believe drive arica has help more constructive international regime's assad's atrocities and we now must give the opportunity of a path forward without military involvement in this area a chance to succeed. madam president, yield back my time.
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i rise today to speak on the syria. the real issue is that they gassed more than 426 children and their parents. those who perished died a horrific, unnecessary deaths. we must come together and docked with the president to create a credible threat of force and thereby deter the future use of chemical weapons. thatsomewhat optimistic syria is willing to place its chemical weapons under international control and the solution could possibly bring a peaceful resolution but we must remember that a ron is also watching. -- iran is also watching. will they really stand up against the plan to build nuclear weapons? we need to send a message to the world that we mean what we say. we will not allow aside to keep
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gassing his own people and we will not allow iran to develop a nuclear weapon. click c-span, we bring public affairs events to washington directly to you putting you in the room at congressional hearings, white house events, briefings, conferences offering gavelte dabble to coverage of the u.s. house as a public service of private industry. c-span, created by the public television industry 34 years ago and funded by your local cable or television satellite provider. house onart of today's the services committee hearing on syria. at 9:00 p.m. eastern, president obama will address the nation on the cerium situation. after then, we will take your calls and comments. now, secretary of state john kerry on the proposal from
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russia to secure chemical weapons testifying at the house armed services committee with defense secretary chuck hagel and joint chief of staff chairman martin dempsey. we will watch this hour-long portion while we wait for president obama's remarks on syria. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> good morning. we meet to receive testimony on the proposed authorization for the use of military force in syria. our witnesses include secretary of state john kerry, secretary of defense chuck hagel was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff martin dempsey. gentlemen, thank you for being with us today. busyave had a very, very week and we appreciate your time and the efforts you have made to be with us and to inform this committee and the american public of the important work you are engaged in. closelyidity is
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monitored the conflict in syria and we have focused on understanding the strategic options, the risks, as well as the costs of military action in syria. i hope our witnesses will focus not only on the case for military action that has been made over the last two weeks but also address the justifiable concerns raised by members on a bipartisan basis. this includes understanding more about likely second-order effects, how a limited strike will achieve policy goals, and the planning that has been done to respond should assad of bothlate in terms operational and both financial planning. what options short of additional military action, do we have to respond to escalation or retaliation? hagel, you've estimated this will cost tens of millions of dollars.
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you testified that we should start with the question of how we play for action and serious we do something. it clear that a supplemental would be required. history tells us that there will likely be second or third order effects that demand further u.s. military action. therefore it gives me great pause that we have not addressed the devastating cuts to our military due to sequestration. even as we commit our military to another new mission, we cut the military budget. we have flown militaries over libya and cut the military budget. are pivoting to the asian pacific we cut the military budget. totalld, the cuts now $1.2 trillion. we are considering strikes on cereal while the military budget continues to be cut.
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i share president obama's concerns about the use of chemical weapons on his people" are deeply concerned about the theed states's standing in region. when the president drew his redline, he put the cards on the table. a leader either in forces his line or he becomes irrelevant. however, i'm equally concerned about the condition of a military that has been chewed up by budget cuts and years of fighting and the lack of certainty this chief and the chiefs that serve with him have not had a budget in this term in office. they do not really know what they have to spend at the end of this month going into next year. there's no way to run an organization. we cannot keep asking the military to perform dangerous mission after mission with multiple rounds of defense cuts including sequestration hanging over their heads.
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ofrd incisiveness, clarity purpose, and leadership, the president has the power to al a many of these concerns. i look forward to answers to these questions and your testimony here today. mr. smith. hearing you for this and i want to thank our witnesses, secretary kerry, secretary hagel, general dempsey come and for your leadership on this. i think there is no question at this point that assad used chemical weapons in syria. the evidence and intelligence and has been made has been overwhelming in the hearings that i have into on the heels of a civil war in which assad has killed somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 of his own civilians which is a series of abhorrent acts in and of themselves. these challenges for those best tong today is how
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hold president assad accountable for all of this. there is no question and i agree completely that trying to control the proliferation of chemical weapons is a goal we must have as a nation, but can i one time limited military strike accomplish that? i think what the committee wants to hear today is how that will happen, how the one-time strike will be enough to hold assad accountable while not creating more chaos and running the risk that these very dangerous weapons would fall into even more dangerous hands giving the presence of al qaeda and other groups in syria. how do you strike that allen's between holding assad accountable and not creating a worse situation? going to be very difficult and we hope to hear answers from our witnesses to help us better understand this problem. also, we're very interested in how serious the russian proposal is. if you think that is a worthy
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goal goal in terms of holding assad accountable in eliminating chemical weapons, is that something that can happen? we want to hear how you think that will play going forward. i want to agree with the chairman on sequestration. it's an enormous problem and it adds a layer of complication for every issue that comes up including syria. personally, i would end it tomorrow. we can talk about how to get the budget under control long-term, revenues and spending, but we know that sequestration is really devastating our military costs and other portions of the budget. it was never meant to be implemented. it was meant to be a forcing mechanism, an intention that has clearly failed. we should just eliminate it and theback to a discussion on budget without torching discretionary. if the syrian crisis prompts a
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more serious discussion that will be one tiny positive in what is otherwise a very dangerous situation. . look forward to the testimony i thank the distinguished panel for being here today. >> thank you. secretary kerry. >> chairman mckeon, ranking member smith, and distinguished members of the committee, i'm privileged to be here this morning with secretary hagel and general dempsey, and we are all of us - all three of us - very much looking forward to a conversation with you about this complicated, challenging, but critical issue that our country faces. and we don't come to you lightly. i think secretary hagel and i particularly come here
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with an enormous amount of respect for this process, for what each of you go through at home, and the challenges you face with constituents, and the complexity of this particular issue. so this is good. it's good that we're here, and we look forward to the conversation. and as we convene at this hearing, it is no exaggeration at all to say to you that the world is watching. and they're watching not just to see what we decide. they're watching to see how we decide it, and whether or not we have the ability at this critical time when so much is on
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the line in so many parts of the world. as challenges to governance, writ large, it's important that we show the world that we actually do have the ability to, hopefully, speak with one voice. and we believe that that can make a difference. needless to say, this is one of the most important decisions that any member of congress makes during the course of their service. and we all want to make sure we leave plenty of time here for discussion. obviously, this is a very large committee, and so we'll try to summarize in these comments and give the opportunity for the q&a. but i just want to open with a few comments about questions i'm hearing from many of your colleagues, and obviously, from the american people and what we read in the news. first, people ask me - and they ask you, i know - why we are choosing to have a debate on syria at a time when there's so
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much that we need to be doing here at home. and we all know what that agenda is. let me assure you, the president of the united states didn't wake up one day and just kind of flippantly say, "let's go take military action in syria." he didn't choose this. we didn't choose this. we're here today because bashar al-assad, a dictator who has chosen to meet the requests for reform in his country with bullets and bombs and napalm and gas, because he made a decision to use the world's most heinous weapons to murder more than - in one instance - more than 1,400 innocent people, including more than 400 children. he and his regime made a choice, and president obama believes - and all of us at this table believe - that we have no choice but to respond. now, to those who doubt whether assad's actions have to have consequences, remember that our
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inaction absolutely is guaranteed to bring worse consequences. you, every one of you here - we, all of us - america will face this. if not today, somewhere down the line when the permissiveness of not acting now gives assad license to go do what he wants and threaten israel, threaten jordan, threaten lebanon, create greater instability in a region already wracked by instability, where stability is one of the greatest priorities of our foreign policy and of our national security interest. and that brings me to the second question that i've heard lately, which is sort of -- what's really at stake here? does this really affect us?
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i met earlier today with steve chabot and had a good conversation. i asked him, "what are you hearing?" i know what you're all hearing. the instant reaction of a lot of americans anywhere in our country is, "woah, we don't want to go to war again. we don't want to iraq. we don't want to go to afghanistan. we've seen how those turned out." i get it, and i'll speak to that in a minute. but i want to make it clear at the outset, as each of us at this table want to make it clear, that what assad has done directly affects america's security - america's security. we have a huge national interest in containing all weapons of
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mass destruction. and the use of gas is a weapon of mass destruction. allowing those weapons to be used with impunity would be an enormous chink in our armor that we have built up over years against proliferation. think about it. our own troops benefit from that prohibition against chemical weapons. i mentioned yesterday in the briefing - many of you were there, and some of you i notice from decorations, otherwise i know many of you have served in the military, some of you still in the reserves. and you know the training we used to go through when you're learning. and i went to chemical, nuclear, biological warfare school, and i remember going into a room and a gas mask, and they make you take it off, and you see how long you can do it. it ain't for long. those weapons have been outlawed, and our troops, in all
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of the wars we fought since world war i, have never been subjected to it because we stand up for that prohibition. there's a reason for that. if we don't answer assad today, we will irreparably damage a century-old standard that has protected american troops in war. so to every one of your constituents, if they were to say to you, "why did you vote for this even though we said we don't want to go to war?" because you want to protect american troops, because you want to protect america's prohibition and the world's prohibition against these weapons. the stability of this region is also in our direct security interest. our allies, our friends in israel, jordan, and
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turkey, are, all of them, just a strong wind away from being injured themselves or potentially from a purposeful attack. failure to act now will make this already volatile neighborhood even more combustible, and it will almost certainly pave the way for a more serious challenge in the future. and you can just ask our friends in israel or elsewhere. in israel, they can't get enough gas masks. and there's a reason that the prime minister has said this matters, this decision matters. it's called iran. iran looms out there with its potential - with its nuclear program and the challenge we have been facing. and that moment is coming closer
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in terms of a decision. they're watching what we do here. they're watching what you do and whether or not this means something. if we choose not to act, we will be sending a message to iran of american ambivalence, american weakness. it will raise the question - i've heard this question. as secretary of state as i meet with people and they ask us about sort of our long-term interests and the future with respect to iran, they've asked me many times, "do you really mean what you say? are you really going to do something?" can he deliver? this is all integrated. i also want to remind you, you have already spoken to this. your word is on the line, too. you passed the syria accountability act. and that act clearly states that syria's chemical weapons threaten the security of the middle east. that's in plain writing. it's in the act. you voted for it. we've already decided these chemical weapons are important to the security of our nation. i quote, "the national security interests of the united states are - the national security
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interests of the united states are at risk with the weapons of mass - the chemical weapons of syria." the fourth question i've been asked a lot of times is why diplomacy isn't changing this dynamic. isn't there some alternative that could avoid this? and i want to emphasize on behalf of president obama, president obama's first priority throughout this process has been and is diplomacy. diplomacy is our first resort, and we have brought this issue to the united nations security council on many occasions. we have sent direct messages to syria, and we've had syria's allies bring them direct messages -- don't do this. don't use these weapons. all to date, to no avail. in the last three years, russia and china have vetoed three
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security council resolutions condemning the regime for inciting violence or resolutions that simply promote a political solution to the dialogue - to the conflict. russia has even blocked press releases - press releases that do nothing more than express humanitarian concern for what is happening in syria, or merely condemn the generic use of chemical weapons, not even assigning blame. they have blocked them. we've brought these concerns to the united nations, making the case to the members of the security council that protecting civilians, prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, and promoting peace and security are in our shared interests, and those general statements have been blocked.
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that is why the president directed me to work with the russians and the region's players to get a geneva 2 peace negotiation underway. and the end to the conflict in syria, we all emphasize today - is a political solution. none of us are coming to you today asking for a long-term military - i mean, some people think we ought to be, but we don't believe there is any military solution to what is happening in syria. but make no mistake -- no political solution will ever be achievable as long as assad believes he can just gas his way out of this predicament. and we are without question building a coalition of support for this now. thirty-one countries have signed on to the g-20 statement, which is a powerful one, endorsing the united states' efforts to hold assad accountable for what he is doing. turkey, saudi arabia, qatar, france and many others are committed to joining with us in any action. we're now in the double digits with respect to countries that are prepared to actually take action should they be needed were they capable of it. i mentioned 31 nations signing on to the g-20 statement. but our diplomatic hand, my former colleagues, our diplomatic hand only becomes
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stronger if other countries know that america is speaking with a strong voice here, with one voice, and if we're stronger as a united nation around this purpose. in order to speak with that voice, we need you, the congress. that's what the president did. many of you said please bring this to congress. the president has done that, and he's bringing it to congress with confidence that the congress will want to join in an effort in order to uphold the word of the united states of america - not just a president, but the united states of america with respect to these weapons of mass destruction. now, i want to be crystal clear about something else.
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some people want to do more in syria. some people are leery about doing anything at all. but one goal we ought to all be able to agree on is that chemical weapons cannot be under the control of a man so craven that he has repeatedly used those chemical weapons against his fellow syrians with the horrific results that all of us have been able to see. yesterday, we challenged the regime to turn them over to the secure control of the international community so that they could be destroyed. and that, of course, would be the ultimate way to degrade and deter assad's arsenal, and it is the ideal weapon - ideal way to take this weapon away from him. assad's chief benefactor, the russians, have responded by saying that they would come up with a proposal to do exactly that. and we have made it clear to them - i have in several conversations with foreign minister lavrov - that this cannot be a process of delay, this cannot be a process of avoidance. it has to be real, has to be
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measurable, tangible. and it is exceedingly difficult i want everybody here to know - to fulfill those conditions. but we're waiting for that proposal, but we're not waiting for long. president obama will take a hard look at it. but it has to be swift, it has to be real, it has to be verifiable. it cannot be a delaying tactic. and if the united nations security council seeks to be the vehicle to make it happen, that cannot be allowed to simply become a debating society. there are many countries - and many of you in the congress, from those who wanted military action to those who were skeptical of military action - want to see if this idea could become reality. but make no mistake - make no mistake - about why this idea
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has any potential legs at all and why it is that the russians have reached out to the syrians and why the syrians have initially suggested they might be interested. a lot of people say that nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging. well, it's the credible threat of force that has been on the table for these last weeks that has, for the first time, brought this regime to even acknowledge that they have a chemical weapons arsenal. and it is the threat of this force and our determination to hold assad accountable that has motivated others to even talk about a real and credible international action that might have an impact. so how do you maintain that pressure? we have to continue to show
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syria, russia, and the world that we are not going to fall for stalling tactics. if the challenge we laid down is going to have the potential to become a real proposal, it is only because of the threat of force that we are discussing today. and that threat is more compelling if congress stands with the commander-in-chief. finally, let me just correct a common misconception. in my conversation with steve chabot earlier today, he mentioned this. i've heard it. i've talked with many of you. you've told you me you hear it. the instant reaction of a lot of americans - and i am completely sympathetic to it, i understand it, i know where it comes from, i only stopped sitting where you sit a few months ago - i know exactly what the feelings are. people don't want another iraq. none of us do. we don't want afghanistan. but mr. chairman, with all due respect, we can't make this decision based solely on the budget. we can't make this decision based solely on our wishes, on our feeling that we know we've been through the ringer for a
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while. we're the united states of america, and people look to us. they look to us for the meaning of our word, and they look to us for our values in fact being followed up by the imprint of action where that is necessary. we are not talking about america going to war. president obama is not asking for a declaration of war. we are not going to war. there will be no american boots on the ground. let me repeat -- no american boots will be on the ground. what we're talking about is a targeted, limited, but consequential action that will reinforce the prohibition against chemical weapons. and general dempsey and secretary hagel will tell you how we can achieve that and their confidence in our ability to achieve that. we're talking about an action that will degrade assad's capacity to use these weapons and to ensure that they do not proliferate. and with this authorization, the
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president is asking for the power to make sure that the united states of america means what we say. mr. chairman, mr. ranking member, and members of this committee, i can say to you with absolute confidence, the risk of not acting is much greater than the risk of acting. if we fail to act, assad will believe that he has license to gas his own people again. and that license will turn prohibited weapons into tactical weapons. and general dempsey can tell you about this. it would take an exception, a purposeful exception that has been in force since 1925, and make it the rule today. it would undermine our standing, degrade america's security and our credibility, and erode our strength in the world.
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in a world of terrorists and extremists, we would choose to ignore those risks at our peril. we cannot afford to have chemical weapons transformed into the new convenient weapon, the ied, the car bomb, the weapon of everyday use in this world. neither our country nor our conscience can bear the costs of inaction, and that's why we've come before you, at the instruction of the president, to ask you to join us in this effort. esther chairman, ranking member smith, members of the committee, led a farm of defense -- theesponsibility to department of defense has a responsibility in general dense and i take that responsibility very seriously. that is why i strongly support president obama was decision to
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respond to the chemical attack of the assad regime on its own people. scale and heinous attack included women and children. i wholeheartedly support the president's resignation of the use of chemical force in syria and i believe secretary kerry outlined them very clearly. president has made clear that it is in our country's national security interest to degrade weaponschemical capabilities and deter him from using them again. as the secretary mentioned yesterday, we outlined a way to a and accomplish of this military and diver action that would require the itad regime to quickly turn over to international control so that it can be destroyed forever . in aesident obama noted,
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verifiable manner. all of us are hopeful that this option might be a real solution to this crisis yet we must be thatclear eyed and ensure it is not a stalling tactic by syria and their russian patrons. for this option to have a chance at succeeding, the threat of a u.s. military action, the credible, real threat of u.s. military action must continue as we are talking today and will continue to talk and discuss through the week. president's determination to hold assad accountable when the fact that he put military action on the table to enable this new diplomatic track to maybe gain some momentum and credibility. the support of congress for holding assad accountable will
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give even more energy and more urgency to these efforts. congress has a responsibility to continue this important debate on authorizing the use of force against a she syrian regime. committing our country to use military force is the most us -- difficult decision leaders will face. all of those who serve have a responsibility to ask the tough questions before the commitment is made. theust be able to assure american people that their leaders are acting according to u.s. national interests with well-defined military object an understanding of the risks and consequences involved. the president and his entire national security team ask those difficult questions before we concluded that the united states should take military action against the serial regime. i want to address briefly how we
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reached the decision by clarifying u.s. interests at stake here today and in the future. our military object to examine the the risk of not acting at this critical juncture. the use of chemical weapons in this area is not only an assault on humanity but it is a serious threat to national security interests and those of our closest allies. the serial regime actions risk eroding this against the use of chemical weapons. forces are against these terrible weapons. this norm hasof great consequences for our future security and for global security. weapons are profoundly destabilizing and have rightfully been rejected by the international community.
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chemical use of weapons threaten our friends and partners along the borders including israel, jordan, turkey, lebanon, iraq. it increases the chance that has assad, supporting the regime, could acquire chemical weapons and use them against our interests and our people. all we can to prevent hezbollah or any terrorist group determined to strike the united acquiring chemical weapons and we cannot allow terrorist groups and offer a teary and regimes to mistakenly believe that they can use chemical weapons against u.s. troops or america's friends and partners in regions without severe consequences. our allies in the world must be assured that the united states will stand by its security commitments and stand by its word. believersaries must not
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they can develop and use weapons of consequence. where these adversaries are emboldened instead of detergent is not a world we want to live in a, as president obama said last week. example, north korea, with its massive stockpile of chemical weapons, threatens our allies indirectly threatens the 28,000 u.s. troops stationed on the dmz. during my recent trip to asia, i had a serious and long conversation with the south korean defense minister about this real threat that north korea upon chemical weapons are representing to them and the troops. given these threats, the united states must demand straight through our actions that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. the president has made clear that military object is in syria
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would be to hold the assad regime accountable for its , degradeweapons attack its ability to carry out these terrorf attacks, and the the regime from further use of chemical weapons. the department of defense has developed actions to achieve these objections and we have positioned assets through the region to successfully execute the mission. we believe we can achieve them. we can achieve them but the military action would be targeted, consequential, limited. general dempsey and i have assured the president that u.s. forces will be ready to act whenever the president gives the order. we are working to build broad international support for this kerry has secretary noted last week at the g 20, the leaders of a number of countries condemned the atrocity and called for a strong
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international response. in the cents, a number have also signed signed on, as secretary kerry has also noted. does, weng our object we have made clear we are not theing to resolve underlying conflict through direct military force. we might not send america's sons and daughters to fight another civil war. we are not contemplating any kind of open-ended intervention or an operation involving american ground troops. created by solution the syria people is the only way to ultimately and the violence kerry isand secretary helping to lead that international effort to help the parties move towards a negotiated transition. ourave also expanded assistance to the moderate syrian opposition. the military action we are contemplating will reinforce the strengtheningy
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diplomatic efforts and making clear to assad that he cannot achieve victory through further violence. having defined american interests, our military object the, we must also look at risks and consequences. there are always risks in taking action, but there are also significant risks with inaction. the assad regime under increasing pressure from the serial in opposition and with a massive arsenal of chemical weapons could feel empowered to carry out even more in devastating chemical weapons attacks and this would deep in the crisis faced by the syria and, further destabilize the region. a refusal to lacked would undermine the credibility of the united states including the credibility of the president's iran from to prevent getting nuclear weapons. the word of the united states
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must mean something. to alliedl currency commitments and every witness here today, secretary kerry, general dempsey, and myself have served in uniform, fought in war , and we have seen the ugly realities up close like many of you. we understand a country faces few decisions as grave as using military force and we are not unaware of the costs that ravage a war but we also understand that america must protect its people then we must protect our , not just forests the immediate but for the future. that is our highest responsibility. all of us who have the privilege and responsibility of serving for this great nation of the american people and especially those wearing the uniform of our onntry, a vigorous debate how america should respond to the chemical weapons attack in syria. know everyone on this
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committee agrees and takes the responsibility of office just as seriously as the president and everyone at this table. mr. chairman, thank you. >> thank you, general dempsey. chairman mccain, ranking member smith, thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective on the use of force in syria and let me thank you for your service on this committee and the great support you provide to american armed forces. the president has made the determination that it is in our interests to respond to assad's use of chemical weapons with limited military force. we have reached the point at which he used chemical weapons as just another military tool in his arsenal, a tool he is willing to use indiscriminately and that is what makes this so dangerous, dangerous for syria, the region, and the world. my role is to provide options for ahow we could employ
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militarily significant strike that would do the following. this would degrade the regime's we have setsbility should they become necessary but the plan the strikes will disrupt those parts of the assad forces directly related to the chemical attack of august 21 in the greatest means of chemical weapons delivery and degrade the assets he uses to threaten his neighbors and his regime. collectively, they will send assad a deterrent message demonstrating our ability to hold at risk the capabilities he values most than strike again if necessary. united states military has forces ready to carry out orders of the commander-in-chief and the limited nature seems to mitigate the potential for
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miscalculation and escalation as well as minimize collateral damage. however, we are postured to look at a range of contingencies and we are prepared to support our friends in the region should he retaliate. the men and women of american armed forces are exceptionally well-trained and they are prepared and i'm honored to represent them. if called to execute, your military will respond and i stand ready to answer your questions. >> thank you very much. secretary kerry, last week before the senate foreign relations committee and the house foreign affairs committee, you testified that congress had had the vote in the support of the authorization for the use of military force and your testimony today no longer explicitly stated that. proposal with chemical weapons under international control and assad's agreement to the proposal, has the administration's proposal on the
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changed -- on the aumf changed? with the president still seek a vote? >> as i said in my testimony, the president believes we need to keep this threat, this absolutely on the table. he wants congress to act. decisione has made the to hold off on whether there are any legs in this proposal. we want you to act. there is no daylight with 'sspect to the administration commitment to keep moving with the congress and the direction of securing this authorization if thiswe need to know
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cannot be performed, this is a delay, this is a game, this is unreal that we are speaking with one voice and we will hold the assad regime accountable. is the use of force absolutely should not be off the table. we are not asking congress not to vote. given what the senate leader has decided, we see of the russians make a proposal, that is up to the president to decide. nothing has changed with respect to our request for the congress to take action with respect. as to when and how, that is something the president may want to chat with leadership about. dempsey, you heard the concerns i raised in my opening statement about committing our military to another mission. in this case, a combat mission
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come a without addressing sequestration and the associated readiness crisis. notd you agree that it's possible to anticipate all of the second and heard order andcts of military action therefore it is not possible to determine the cost of a strike or the impact to troop readiness? is conceived as a limited operation. and well within our capabilities to conduct it. i have expressed in this hearing room and elsewhere that the possibility that due to sequestration, the force behind .he push will not be ready -- for seen contingencies
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for unforeseen contingencies. >> even having the destroyers in the region and the cost of having the aircraft carrier task force unit, we are talking maybe $30 million per week. these numbers add up. the money has to be found .omewhere generally it comes out of readiness. chairman, just so you know, i share your concern completely but we areration talking about something here that we have articulated that is in our national interest in my assumption, and i hope that you in ourif something is national interest, we can find the money to pay for it.
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>> i have no question that you will find the money general. it is just where do you find it and is it to plead our readiness for other areas? we still have troops over there that we need to see are adequately trained. i have one other question. of russia and an international community coming and destroying the chemical weapons, i have heard in the past from our military leaders that this is a very expensive operation. it would take troops on the them,, whoever provides the united legions or whoever, there would have to be troops on the ground securing these people and knowledgeable and the expense of destroying this. i heard that whoever takes it
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, if they own it, is there any discussion on who will pay for that? i feel like i have to keep .ringing these issues up as i go to talk and visit bases. all of these things have an impact. we have gone over this in meetings and you have testified, general, avoid impact this is having and we need to remind the 487 billion dollars before we even got to sequestration. it is not going away. i think we need to be aware that it has to be a part of the
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consideration as important as things are that we also have to consider how we are going to pay for it and what other ramifications it has on our military. mr. smith. click secretary kerry, and your opening remarks you spoke of a war weariness and i think that mrs. the mark slightly. it is not so much of the weariness but it is the lessons that we should have learned or did not learn from those wars and the lessons about the limitation of american military power to fix problems in the world. saddam hussein was a problem and we had all kind of controversy in dealing with him. i think we learned the ability of the u.s. military to simply come in and create a better situation was limited
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particularly if there is a lack of international support. the concern is not so much that we are we are re-of war but what the military response is going to do to truly fix the situation and syria. havesome other countries expressed support, but virtually nobody at this point is stepping up to pony up any money or any resources or to put their military on the line. we're pretty much on our own. i would just like you to talk about, do we understand the limitations of that? one thing i was hoping we would get to under president obama is a realistic expectation about what we in the u.s. can and cannot fix. the expectations out there in the world are off the charts. i was justin jordan, afghanistan, and the uae and there is a feeling that if anything happens, it has to be the united states's fault
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because we are strong enough to fix it. it is that limitation on military power we are concerned about which brings me to the second part of my question. if a leader uses chemical weapons, the obvious way to hold them accountable would be that it would be first to build international support, but we remove him from power. if you don't, are you really holding him accountable? you articulated it fairly well that we are trying to have a consequential but limited strike. hehe is still in power and is still running the country, is he held accountable? how do we truly do that? concerned are rightly about removing assad from power because of the threatening presence of al qaeda that exists now. he does not control the entire country. how long will will he control all of his chemical weapons?
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as bad as it is to have him in charge, it would be worse to have it scattered and have it be whoever gets there first and it is balancing all of that. the feeling is we are taking the stake and hitting a hornets nest with no intention whatsoever of killing the hornet. we want to try to, i guess, teach them a lesson but knowing that iswhat comes next? what we are concerned about. >> very good questions. let me them -- answer them in the hole. this is not a piecemeal operation. is not a piecemeal approach by the administration where one part is separate and being dealt with over here although we are trying to separate the nature of the response to the degree that it is possible. let me be very specific about what i'm saying.
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with respect to the limits of american power, obviously there have always been limits and we have not always heeded those lessons well before some of our most recent excursions, but i would say this. that lesson has particularly informed president's decision and approach here. is specifically not asking the congress to empower him to go in and take over the syrian civil war. it is precisely because of those lessons. what the president is doing is making an informed decision about what the military can achieve and what we as a country is enforceieve which a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
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, he has directed the military to come up with a set you canns as to how degrade his ability to deliver those weapons and send a sufficient message to not do it again. now, we believe in general dempsey can testify that he has arrived at a targeting concept that can achieve that. >> i'm sorry, this is something we try to get into before. they watch these chemical weapons with artillery in many goingces and were not after the chemical weapons stockpiles themselves because it carries a whole lot of risk with it, so how exactly, general, are regarding to degrade his abilities? >> i want to answer the other parts of your question because it's important to understand in context. is the leader going to be left in power? objective ofimary willtrike, there clearly
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be a downstream impact on his military capacity. as everybody here knows, the president and the congress have made a decision to support the opposition and the certain ways and that support is growing and its impact is growing. trackis a separate whereby pressure will continue to be put on the assad regime in order to do what? to bring him to the negotiating table to implement geneva. they say there is no strategy here. there has been a strategy in place for a long time. genevao try to implement 1 which was arrived at last year in june 2012. have a transitional governing entity that will be created with full executive authority that
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will then set up the structure for the new syria to be decided on by the syrian people. that's the strategy. how do you get there. i'm telling everyone here -- if assad can gas his people with impunity, you will never get to geneva. if you do not stand up and take and the strikey thealculated to send message that you cannot do this unless you use excessive cost. >> i'm sorry. what if he can kill his people with impunity? >> is there a difference between 100,000 people being killed and other napalm? >> yes. is the goal to force him to stop
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him using chemical weapons is one piece. the lateral impact of this is that if you cannot use chemical , his status time deteriorated he comes to believe he has to negotiate. calculated to not remove him. it is not calculated to be the game changer. it is calculated to stop him from using weapons that we decided in 1925 should not be used in war and represent a war crime. i should let the general speak as to how this is specifically targeted to do that. i don't want the confusion that you are being asked to do specificallyt is geared towards getting involved in or taking over syria's civil war. the purpose of the strike is limited and targeted.
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the president has decided that's an appropriate and he feels it should be targeted to prevent the chemical weapons. >> i will see if this answers your question. prevent him from using chemical weapons again. it's not possible under the current construct and i'm not sure if it's possible short of him giving them up. terror is to change his calculus about the cost of using them again and the grade is literally away some of the capabilities, but not all, to deliver them. these were delivered not with artillery but with improvised short range rockets. there are talk it -- target packages that look at command and control, the decision-making apparatus and not to degrade the syria ability to control weapons and safeguard their security but rather the command and control
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of those who choose to use them, the means of delivery, and the other resources that the regime to protect itself. we have a full range of options. i will also say, importantly, the president has not yet given me >> it just a moment, from the east room at the white house, the president will address the nation. continues to make his case for a u.s. response for the use of chemical weapons in this arena. this is a live view. the president walking a short distance from the blue room. backdrop comes with a possible diplomatic work there. is making his case before the armed services committee. on thursday, he will travel to
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geneva to meet with the u.s. prime minister. the president earlier -- on capitol hill earlier today also. the president is expected to speak for about 10 or 15 minutes. following his remarks, we will open our phone lines to get your comments. coming up, live coverage of the president as he addresses the nation on the situation in syria. >> my fellow americans, tonight
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i want to talk to you about syria. why it matters, and where we go from here. over the past two years, what began as a series of useful protests against the assad regime has turned into a civil war. over 100,000 people have been killed. millions have fled the country. america has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition, and to shape a political settlement. i have resisted calls to military action because we cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force. specifically after a war in iraq and afghanistan. changed on august regime gasseds several people. the images from this are sickening.
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lying inn, children rows. others gasping for breath. a father clutching his dead children am a imploring them to get up and walk. saw thenight, the world terrible nature of chemical weapons. overwhelming majority -- and why the overwhelming majority. american gisi, were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of europe. in world war ii, the nazis used gas in the holocaust. because of these weapons can kill on a mass kill, there is a distinction between soldier and infant. the civilized world has spent a century working to ban the.
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in 1997, the u.s. senate approved at international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. governments, 189 reckoned -- represent 98% of humanity. these rules were violated along with humanity. no one disputes that chemical weapons were used in syria. the world saw thousands of videos, cell phone pictures, and social media accounts from the attack. about peopletold poisoned by gas. we know the assad regime was response will. in the days leading up to august 21, we know that the chemical assad prepared chemical weapons.
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they fired rockets into a live in neighborhoods that the regime -- tahas beenh trying to rid of the opposition. results.ed the they increased the shelling of the same never hurts in the day that follow -- in the same neighborhood in the days that followed. when dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until the pictures fade from memory. these things happened great fax cannot be denied. -- these things happened. facts cannot be denied. the question is what will we do about it.
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-- for those people, it is not just a violation of international law, it is part of our national security. if we fail to act, the assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. as the ban against these weapons it roads, tyrants will not think twice about using them. will face our troops the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. easier forbe terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians. the fighting goes beyond syria's border. they could threaten allies. a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction and embolden iran.
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this is not a world we should accept. this is what is at stake. after careful the liberation, i determined that it is in the national security interests of respond tostates to the use of chemical weapons with a targeted military strike. the purpose of the strike will be to deter assad from using grade hiseapons, to ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. that is my judgment as commander-in-chief. the president of the world's oldest constitutional marcus e. -- democracy.
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i took this debate in congress. i believe our democracy a stronger when the president asked weeks -- with the support of congress. america acts more effectively abroad when we stand together. this is true after a decade were where burdens are put on our shoulders. the toll ofafter iraq and afghanistan, the threat of military action is not going to be popular. spent 4.5 years working to end wars, not stricken. our troops are out of a rock and -- out of iraq. i want to concentrate on the task of building our nation at home. putting people back to work,
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educating our kids, growing our middle class. it is no wonder that you are asking hard questions. let me answer some of the most important questions i have heard from congress and that i have read in letters you have said to me. asked ifny of you have it will put us on a slippery slope to another work print -- war. said, this nation is sick and tired of war. my answer is simple. i will not put american boots on the ground in syria. endedl not pursue an open- action. i will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like libya. this would be a target just -- targeted strike to obtain a clear objective. to deter the use of chemical assad'sand degrading
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chemical capabilities. will it work if we do not take them out? let me make something clear. the united states military does ks. do and perks -- pinpric we will send a message that no other nation can deliver. i do not think we should remove another dictator with force. doing so, makes us responsible for all that comes next. a targeted straight and make assad think twice. -- a targeted strike. other questions about the dangers of retaliation. we do not dismiss threats, but the assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. they mightetaliation
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seek is in line with threats we face everyday. neither assad, nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise. withl can defend itself ofce, along with the support the u.s. many of you have asked a broader question. why should we get involved at all in a place that is so concentrated? as one person were to me, those who come after us on maybe the enemies of human rights. that is true. some of his opponents are extremists. al qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic syria if people there see the world from doing nothing. the majority of the syrian people and the opposition will work with want to live in peace.
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with dignity and freedom. the day after any military would double our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who oppose turning. -- oppose tyranny. why not leave this to other countries. several people wrote to me and said that we should not be the world's policeman. i agree. deeply held preference for peaceful solar should and. might administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations that chemical weapons -- but chemical weapons were still used by the assad regime. however, we have seen encouraging signs over the last few days. in part because of the credible threat of u.s. military action
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and constructive talks with president putin. wants toan government join with us to get him to give up his chemical weapons. assad joined the chemical weapons convention, which prevents there is. it is hard to tell if this offer will succeed. must verify, it that assad keeps his commitments. it also has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force. because russia is one of assad's strongest allies part i have -- strongest allies. i have asked congress to postpone a use of force while we pursue this up about it that. i am sending john kerry to meet his russian counterpart on thursday. i will continue my own discussions with president putin part i have -- president putin.
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we will work with russia and china to put forward a resolution at the un security council recurring -- requiring assad to give up his chemical weapons and destroy them. we will also give you an inspectors the opportunity to report their findings. we will continue to rally support from allies who agree on the need for action. meanwhile, i have ordered our military to maintain their current posture, to keep the pressure on assad. position to a respond if diplomacy fails. tonight i give thanks to our military and their families for their strength and sacrifices. americans, poor almost seven decades, the united states has been the anchor of global security.
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is doing more than forging international agreements. it means enforcing them. the burdens of leadership are often heavy. the world is a better place for it. right, iends on the ask you to reconcile your commitment to america's military might with a failure to act when the cause is just. left, i asks on the you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people. those images of children in pain . sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are not enough. i ask every member of congress, and all of you watching, to view the videos of the attack. kind of world will we live in if the united states of america sees a
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dictator brazenly violating international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way question mark -- the other way? --e a rose will said --sevelt said, principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in syria. along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used. america is not the world's policeman. terrible things happen across the globe. it is beyond our means to right every wrong. with modest effort at risk, we can't stop children from being own childrenke our
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safer. -- we can stop children from the gassed. that is what makes us different e humility, with resolve, let us not lose sight of the tapered -- of the tree. thank you. publish you. -- god bless you. [no audio] east room at the white house, the president for the night time is addressing the nation on syria. we are opening our phone lines. did the president convince you on the situation?
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we will get to your calls in a minute. we keep track -- we are also keeping rack of your comments on our facebook. one of our viewers says, there is nothing you would say that could change our mind. that is from facebook. we are also getting your comments on twitter. the president's speech ran 15 minutes. it was the fourth time he addressed the nation from the east room of the white house. occasions, theus president announced that a sum of bin laden was captured and killed. also, the withdrawal of forces from afghanistan. the last one was the budget .eduction plan
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the last on the president addressed the nation was more than one year ago in may of 2012 when he announced a partnership to withdraw troops from afghanistan and work with the afghan government. tonight, the topic is here. -- chris is our first color from kansas. >> we have an obligation to make sure that chemical weapons are not used, but the underlying issue is if we are being sold out by our government through the human -- through the united nations? >> thank you particle. steve from indiana, did the president committee tonight? >> no, he did not. began looking the computer and find out how to make chemicals. you can see how to make nuclear bombs.
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tragic, butaying is it happened and i don't see the .ational security threat i don't understand it. >> was or anything he could have said that would've changed your mind tonight? >> i don't think there is. it is tragic. there is nothing he could've said to change my mind. we have had enough killing and wars. they used agent orange to clear out all of the vegetation. have -- i know someone suffering from agent orange. chemicals, they did it in world war i and in will work to. they use chemicals in vietnam. >> thank you particle. you are looking at the scene
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wheree the white house there are demonstrations of protesters, both supporting and opposing any u.s. intervention in syria. the president addressed the country from the east room of the white house. our next call is from new jersey. the president did not convince me tonight. -- why it is convenient is it that we do not address 's use of white p hosphorus? i don't think that the troops using gas masks is justification of saying that they used chemical weapons. >> thank you for the call. this from one of our social
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media sites -- you can join in on our facebook page also. erika joins us now from san diego. and listening to all of these people, i am supporting the president. he is smart people -- he is smart. if he had said what he was going to do in advance, everyone would be against it. >> thank you for the call. nikki joins us from milwaukee. are you still undecided? >> yes. i want to get something cleared up. is -- theanding muslim brotherhood.
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this it is such about attack. president obama says the opposition should be restored in egypt. obamahat make president pro-muslim brotherhood? israel is against the muslim brotherhood. -- why is the president against everybody? does that mean that they're against obama? it is confusing and we should stand of it. >> thank you. a live view from pennsylvania avenue as protesters and
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demonstrators making -- are making their voices and. heard.r voices we are also taking her comments on facebook and twitter. the numbers to call are on your screen. from our facebook page -- >> rhonda from indiana, good evening. >> good evening. is -- why should we get into a war that has been going on for hundreds of years. it is not a war that we will win.
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it is not a war we can help to win. it is basically something they have to work out for themselves. i am sorry for the children being killed, but it is effective or. effect of war. the things that are happening, we cannot stop what is happening going on in our own states. thank you for your time. >> thank you particle. from pennsylvania avenue, which , protesters traffic and demonstrators are making their voices heard. on our twitter page -- aaron blake joins us on the
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phone. he has followed the story for the washington post. thank you for being with this. this comes with the backdrop of developments. from moscow onng this last ditch effort. is there anything you can tell us about where things stand and what we can expect? >> the obama administration is being careful about this issue. they are expressing skepticism that it will lead anywhere. they say that john kerry testified this afternoon that he remains skeptical that syria will meet its requirements as quickly as it needs to. there is a long way to go. i think that nobody is expecting this to eventually succeed. at the same time, if it did, it would be a positive development. asi think that they see it
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something worth pursuing as long as it looks like it could happen. speechng the president's this evening, he tried to address some of the questions he has been facing. did he change minds tonight? iswhat you after member people have been watching this closely, but not everybody agrees. &aat is why he used the q format. he addressed major concerns out there. what i thought was interesting about what he did was at the end of his speech, he made an appeal to each party. resolution the should appeal to both republicans and democrats. republicans should view this as a just cause.
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that is the right thing to do. he said that democrats should be concerned about the suffering taking place. i thought it was a well branded speech. a lot of it repeated what we have heard before. a lot of people were also hearing this for the first time. >> explain not only what russian is going to be -- what russia is going to be doing, but also china and iran. yout is a matter of when get to the un security council if they wind up being the international monitors for this, they would be responsible for handling the chemical weapons that serious would be forfeiting -- that syria would be forfeiting. russia is more of an ally to syria. that is why they are playing a key role, even though they are not on the same page as the united states. the fact that the united states is dealing with a number of not
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quite allies is a reflection of the difficulty. it makes the obama ministership and members of congress wary of what the renovations are. >> what is the story that comes out of tonight's address to the nation? >> this could've been a more major address, had we not seen the events of the last 36 hours. the fact that it was 15 minutes long was a reflection of that fact. it was a plan to speech. speech.s a planned we are on the diplomatic side of things now. while members are taking positions on the resolution, it is looking like it will have a tough time passing in congress. that may not wind up mattering if this other thing goes through. >> that was aaron blake of the washington post joining us.
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back to your calls and comments. did it -- did the president convince you? our next call is from peoria. turn the volume down on your set. >> ok. well, i think it is wrong in every single way. fighting a warke for peace makes no sense. we are ready about other people in other countries. they -- we should be worried about our own eric it is wrong -- we should be worried about our own. we should not hurt innocent people just to have something to do with somewhere else that has nothing to do with this.
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an there -- it is in their own land and their problem. thank you. this from twitter -- >> from our facebook page, more of your comments. >> our next court -- guest joins us from new york city. our next caller is from new york city. >> i cannot agree more with you
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president. -- with the president. he made an excellent speech tonight. he got it right. wantmerican people do not to go to war. president gave a chance for diplomacy. people are going to go bombing the regime, and people will be killed. we should not forget our part. i think it is a good decision. the choice was clear in iran and afghanistan. we do not want to be involved in this complex. the -- we should try the best way, diplomacy. numeric and people should be
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happy tonight for the decision made by the president not to use force, but giving a chance for diplomacy. i congratulate the president of the united states. >> thank you for the call. let's go back to our facebook page. the hashtag is #cspanchat. our next call from georgia. did the president convince you tonight? >> no, not at all. only some of americans are in support of a military strike.
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congressman informed obama that he does not of authority to launch war against us three. -- against syria. >> thank you particle. we will continue to monitor your calls on comments. you can join in on facebook or on twitter. the president came to the podium case01 p.m., outlining his against syria. is his speech from earlier this hour. >> my fellow americans, tonight i want to talk to you about syria. why it matters, and where we go
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from here. over the past two years, what began as a series of useful protests against the assad regime has earned into a civil war. over 100,000 people have been killed. millions have fled the country. in that time, america's -- america has worked for support to shape a political settlement. i have resisted calls for military action. because we cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force. the situation has -- finally changed when assad's government gassed over wondered thousand people.- 100,000 the images from this are sickening. men, women, children lying in
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rows. others were foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath. if other clutching his the children. imploring them to get up and walk. on that terrible night, the world saw in detail the nature of chemical weapons. and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off-limits. , and a against humanity violation of the laws of war. this was not always the case. gisorld war i, american were among the many thousands killed by gases in the trenches of europe. in world war ii, the nazis used gas in the holocaust. because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. senate, the u.s.
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approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. now joined by 189 governments that represent 90% of humanity. on august 21, these rules were violated. along with our sense of humanity. one disputes that chemical weapons were used in the syria. the world saw thousands of videos. of theone pictures attack. organizations told stories of doubt hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas. that the assad regime was first possible. in the days leading up to august 21, we know that his chemical weapons personnel prepare for an attack there an area where they mix sarin gas. the distributive gas masks to their troops. they fired rockets from a regime controlled neighborhood.
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shortly after the rockets landed, the gas spread. with dying andd wounded people. we know figures in the military review the results of the attack. they increased their shelling of the same never heard in the days that followed. neighborhood in the days that followed. for --is to positive tested positive for sarin gas. commit atrocities, they depend on the world to look at other way. these things happened. facts cannot be denied. the question now is, what the united states of america and the international community is prepared to do. what happened to those people, to those children, is not only a
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violation of international law, it is a danger to our security. let me explain why. act, the assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. thesethe ban against weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using it. over time, our troops will face the prospect of chemical warfare proved it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons. if the fighting goes beyond syria's border, it could threaten our allies. a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken or omissions against other weapons of mass destruction. which mustn iran, decide by ignoring international
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law or take a more peaceful path. this is not a world we should accept. this is what is at stake. that is why, after careful the liberation, i determined that it is in the national security interest of the united states to respond to the assad regime's use of chemical weapons three limited military strike. the purpose of the strike would be to deter assad from using chemical weapons. to do his regime's ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. commander judgment as in chief. i am also the president of the world's oldest constitutional markers he. even though i have the authority to author -- ordered military i decided to take this debate to congress. i believe our democracy is stronger when the president with theh -- acts
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support of commerce. we act stronger abroad when we at to -- when we act together. i know that after the toll of iraq and afghanistan, the idea of any military action is not going to be popular. years working.5 to end wars, not to start them. our troops are out of iraq. our troops are coming home from afghanistan. i know that americans want all of us in washington, especially me, to concentrate on the task of building our nation at home. putting people back to work eric educating our kids. growing our mobile class.
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-- growing our middle class. it is no doubt that you're asking hard questions. let me answer some of those questions. first, many of you have asked if it would put us on a slippery slope to another war. whenever to me that we are still are covering from our involvement in iraq. -- one man wrote to me. theher veteran said that nation is sick and tired of war. my answer is simple. i will not put american boots on the ground in syria. i will not pursue an open-ended action like iraq or afghanistan. i will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like libya or cozumel. this a be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective. deterring the use of chemical weapons. deterring assad's capability.
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worth have asked if it is doing if we do not take out assad. some members of congress said there is no point in doing a pin prick strike in syria. the united states military does not do pin pricks. even a limited strike will send a message that no other nation can deliver. i don't think we should remove another dictator with force. we learned that doing so makes us responsible for all to come six. a targeted strike can take assad think twice before using chemical weapons. other questions about the dangers of retaliation. threats,dismiss any but the assad regime does not have the ability to threaten our military. any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats we face every day.
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neither assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation at woodley to his demise -- that would lead to his despised -- demise. many of you have asked a broader question. why should we get involved at all in a place that is so cap located -- so complicated? those who come after assad may be enemies of human rights. that is true. some of his opponents are extremists. al qaeda will only drawstrings in a more ionic serious if world doing see the nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being killed. most of them want to live in peace with dignity and freedom. the day after any military
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ouron, we would redouble efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism. askedy, many of you have why not leave this to other countries or sick solutions short of force -- or seek solutions short of force. we are not the world's policeman. i agree. for the last two years, my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations that chemical weapons -- but chemical weapons were still used by the assad regime. however, over the last few days we have seen encouraging signs. in part because of the credible threat of u.s. the letter action, as well as constructive --lks -- contract and
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constructive talks i have had with wonder putin. -- with vladimir putin. the assad regime has admitted that it has these weapons and said that they joined the to -- the chemical weapons convention, which prevents its use. it must verify that the assad regime keeps its commitments. these --iative have has the potential to remove chemical weapons without the use of force because russia is one of assad's strongest allies. i have therefore asked the leaders of congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. i am sending john kerry to meet his russian counterpart on thursday. i will continue my own discussions with president putin. i've spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, france and the united kingdom. we will work together with russia and china to put forward
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a resolution at the un security council requiring assad to give up his chemical weapons and to destroy them. we will also give you an inspectors the opportunity to report their findings. we will rally support from allies in europe and the americas and asia and the middle east to agree on the need for action. meanwhile, i have ordered our military to maintain their current roster, to keep the pressure on assad. -- to maintain their current position. familiesur military for their strength and sacrifice. k our military families for their strength and sacrifice. this means doing more than forging international agreements . it means enforcing them.
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leadership are often heavy. the world is a better place because we have borne them. to my friends of the wreck, i ask you to reconcile your commitment to america's military might when the cost to act is just. to my friends on the left, i asked you to reconcile your belief in freedom for all people . those images of children in pain . sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are not enough. congressry member of and those of you watching tonight to view those videos of the attack and ask, what kind of world will we live in if the united states of america sees a violate brazenly
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international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way. -- roosevelt said, our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles we have cherished are challenged. ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in syria. were with our leadership received to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used. america is not the world's policeman. terrible things happen across the globe. it is beyond our means to right every wrong. with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and make our own children safer over the long run. we should act. that is what makes america
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different. that is what makes us exceptional. with humility, but resolve him a let us never lose sight of that essential truth. thank you. publishing -- god bless you. and god bless the united states of america. [no audio] >> from the ninth time in his presidency, the president addressing the nation tonight on the syria from the east room of the white house. we open our phone lines. the question we are asking -- did the president convince you on his plan for syria? the numbers to call are on your screen.
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>> would also welcome our listeners on c-span radio. we also get your tweets this week are also been -- we are also getting your tweets. on facebook, you can also weigh in with their comments. -- with your comments. right now, most viewers are saying, no. sunny joins us from california. good evening. i've something to say that i have not heard anyone else mention. the present did not convince me. -- the president did not
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convince me. people are saying that we must stand behind the president or think manyill things. see, when mcgaughey happened -- when benghazi happened, and we did not respond, the president did not acknowledge the lie about a video. all of that has to do more with or loss of respect for him trust in him. more than anything has to do with syria right now. i think had he jumped in with both feet and gone and fought for our marines that were killed or made an effort to make people pay for that him he would have
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had the whole world and the country behind him. >> thank you for the call. this from our twitter page -- >> gary, from florida, did the president convince you tonight? the president and secretary kerry have made the case loud and clear. i am disappointed by the about the strategy great you can't make the case the somebody is -- about strategy. you cannot make the case that somebody is a brittle murderer
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murderer. >> what is the solution? what should the policy be in regards to syria? more than what we can get into in this discussion. i hope that eventually the will convince the democratic party that the iraq that nobodyanistan wants another afghanistan. i thought that was a stunning comment. i hope the president obama will convince the american people that despite these foreign
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interventions, it does not negate in any way the moral case against bashar al-assad and that his regime has to go. >> thank you from the call. we are looking at the testimony from john kerry this morning. the entire hearing is available on our website. he will travel to geneva, switzerland for a meeting on thursday with the russian foreign minister to work out a possible u.n. solution, a resolution that would dismantle and story chemical weapons -- and destroy chemical weapons in syria. they lessen the president addressed the nation was in may the last time the president addressed the nation was in may of 2012.
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time that herth has addressed the nation from this venue in the east room of the white house. luanne joins us from bakersfield, california. good evening. >> i agree with the president because i feel like the war has gone on in syria and using chemical weapons are two separate issues. ania has broken international law. i think the president has the right to speak -- stick up for those who cannot stick up for themselves. i think the whole world should be involved in this. this is a serious matter and >> think -- this is a serious matter. >> take you for your call. >> i agree with the president. this is uncalled for. onis using chemical weapons women and children.
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i think if he is going to attack someone, man up. >> thank you for the call. ashley has this comment on our twitter page -- our nic city come -- our next call comes from florida. did the president convince you tonight? >> yes. we do not want to get into a were, but we want to take the fact that things need to be changed where people are not gassed to death. >> thank you for the call. we have a camera outside the white house. we have been looking at some of the people gathering. there had been a -- there are
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been a series of demonstrations outside the white house. many have left over the last 10 or 15 minutes. jill joins us from virginia. go ahead. away, i understand the conflict a tween these people in the world -- between these people in the world. i were member when my daddy was in world war ii. my grandpa was in world war i. people had been arguing and fighting for years and years. this is a serious situation. when russia and germany and afghanistan were a big thing, they were arguing with someone else. i think that trying to drag , andcans into their wars
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that is why i'm not sure that i agree. then again, with a look of for the people. we have a homeland that our ancestors fought to build. we want to protect ourselves and everyone else, but we can't take care of the world. that is how i feel. >> thank you for the call. this from our facebook page --
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>> you can join in on the .onversation on facebook we are also getting your votes on whether or not the president convinced you tonight. our next call is from alaska. i agree with the president. i believe that if it is not starting a war or putting americans in syria, but preventing a chemical war low bully, then i am for it. >> take you. from our -- thank you. this from our twitter page --
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our next caller is from new york city. did the president convince you tonight? >> not at all. not at all, sir. we are picking up the trash from past administrations, what they cannot prove about chemical attacks. not only that, but mr. obama -- he has a point. it is not clearly specified. are theytrike syria, not going to attack our allies like turkey or israel? you have to look at the whole picture. send not about, ok, let us some drones. look at the whole picture.
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movement,t make any trying to make the diplomatic status to work things out. but i think this is the right way to proceed in this matter. our country is picking up, little by little. i think syria is going to be a setback. i am sorry. thank you. >> tomorrow, of course, marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. the president will join members of his administration with a moment of silence shortly before 9:00. he then travels to the pentagon, .lso hit by the attacks on 9/11 that is tomorrow, the 12th anniversary of the september 11 attacks. did the president convince you, up from sterling heights, michigan? >> what i see is shades of hitler and nazi germany.
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i see the president waffling. i see them telling our plans across the public systems we have in our country. presidentee that the has a secondary plan. his whole outlook really scares me. and because of what he has done in the past, what do you believe? we cannot just sit here and have another germany start up again. >> thank you for the call. another tweet from one of our viewers. darrell is joining us from milwaukee. good evening to you. did the president convince you tonight on syria? >> sure he did. you know, you figure, if we used the same strategy going into iraq, we would have had, probably, a better plan. diplomatic is better than deployment. that is all i have got to say.
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>> karen brown wrote in. you can continue with your calls and comments and share your thoughts on twitter and facebook. we will have more on this tomorrow morning on washington journal, at 7:00 a.m. eastern time. congress will be joining us to share their perspective and whether or not they think the president convince them tonight. representative mark meadows is a republican from north carolina. a democrat from arizona, and the cochair of the progressive
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caucus. that is tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. eastern time. us fromis joining vermont. are you still undecided with regard to syria? >> am i on? >> you are. good evening. >> i do think something should be done. what, i have no idea. but a surgical strike is unrealistic and shortsighted. our country has gotten into way too many long-term wars by dipping our toes into the pond. in for a penny. the images of children being gassed are horrific, but this seems like lather, rinse, repeat. i find it odd that people who wanted to not invade iraq are now against this. i think it is kind of odd. >> we will come back two more comments and reaction, whether the president convince do on syria. he spoke for 15 minutes from the
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east room of the white house. nation asre from the he addressed the nation on syria. >> my fellow americans, i do not want to talk to you about syria, why it matters and where we go from here. over the past two years, what began as a series of useful protests against the regime of bashar al-assad has turned into a brutal civil war. over 100,000 people have been killed. millions have fled the country. in that time, america has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the opposition, and to shape the political settlement. i have resisted calls for military action, because we cannot resolve someone else's
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civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in iraq and afghanistan. the situation finally changed on august 21, when assad's government gassed to death hundreds of children. the images from this massacre are sickening. children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath. a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. on that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons, and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off- limits, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war. this was not always the case. gisorld war i, american
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were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of europe. in world war ii, the knot sees used gas to inflict the horror of the holocaust. because these weapons can kill on a mass jail, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. in 1997, the united states senate overwhelmingly improved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 governments that represent 98% of humanity. 21, these basic rules were violated. along with our sense of common humanity. disputes that chemical weapons were used in syria. the world saw thousands of videos, cell phone pictures, and social media accounts from the attack. humanitarian organizations told
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stories of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas. however, we know the assad regime was responsible. in the days leading up to august 21, we know assad's chemical weapons personnel repaired for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. gas masks toted their troops. into 11y fired rockets neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces. shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded. we know senior figures reviewed the results of the attack, and the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed. we have also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin. commitctators
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atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. but these things happened. the fact cannot be denied. the question now is what the united states and the international community is prepared to do about it. because what happened to those children, thise not only a violation of international law -- it is also a danger to our security. let me explain why. act, the assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. as the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using it. our troops will face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. it could be easier to use these
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to attack civilians. these weapons could threaten allies like turkey, jordan, and israel. and a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass distraction, and embolden iran, which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon, or to take a more peaceful path. this is not a world we should except -- we should accept. this is what is at stake. that is why, after careful deliberation, i determined that it is in the national security issue -- interest of the united states to respond through a targeted military strike. the purpose of this strike would be to deter assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade the regime ability to use them, and
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to make their to the world that we will not tolerate their use. that is my judgment as commander in chief. but i am also president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. so even though i have the authority to order military strikes, i believe it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to congress. i believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of congress, and i believe america acts more effectively abroad when we stand together. this is especially true after a decade that put more and more warmaking power in the hands of the president, and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops, while sidelining the peoples representatives from critical decisions about when we use force. know that after the terrible toll of iraq and afghanistan, the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular.
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have spent 4.5 years working to end wars, not to start them. our troops are out of iraq. troops are coming home from afghanistan. i know americans want all of us in washington, especially me, to concentrate on the task of building our nation here at home, putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class. it is no wonder that you are asking hard questions. so let me answer some of the most important questions i have heard from members of congress, and i have read in letters you have sent to me. first, many of you have asked, won't this put us on a slippery slope to another war? one man wrote to me that we are still recovering from our involvement in iraq. another put it more bluntly. this nature is -- this nation is sick and tired of war. my answer is simple.
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i will not put american boots on the ground in syria. i will not pursue an open ended action like iraq or afghanistan. i will not pursue a prolonged air campaign. this would be a targeted strike to degrade assad's keep up ability's. others have asked whether it is work -- worth acting if we do not take out assad. some in congress have said there is no point in simply doing a pinprick strike inch area -- in syria. the united states military does not do pinpricks. strike would send a message to assad that no other message can deliver. i do not think we should remove another dictator with force. makesrned that doing so us responsible for all that
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comes next. but a targeted strike can make assad or any other dictator think twice for using chemical weapons. other questions involve the dangers of retaliation. the assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. neither assad nor his allies have any interest in a retaliation that would lead to his demise. and our ally, israel, can defend force,with overwhelming as well as the unshakable support of the united states of america. any of you have asked a broader question. why should we get involved at all in a place that is so complicated, where, as one person wrote to me, those that come after assad maybe enemies of human rights?
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it is true that some of assad's opponents are extremists. al qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic syria if the people there see the world doing nothing to event innocent civilians from being gassed to death. the majority of the syrian people and the syrian opposition we work with us to want to live in peace, with dignity. the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a military solution that strengthens those who reflect -- who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism. many of you have asked, why not leave this to other countries, or seek solutions short of force? several people wrote to me, we should not be the world's policeman. i agree. and i have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions. over the last two years, my
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administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations. but chemical weapons were still used by the assad regime. days,r, over the last few we have seen encouraging signs. in part because of the credible threat of u.s. military action, as well as constructive talks i thewith president clinton, russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community and pushing aside to give up chemical weapons. the assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons, and even said they would join -- they had joined the convention which prohibits their use. it is to early to tell whether this offer will succeed. must verify that the assad regime keeps its commitments. but this has the potential to remove chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because russia is one of assad's
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strongest allies. i have therefore asked the leaders of congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. i am sending secretary of state john kerry to meet his russian counterpart on thursday, and will continue my own discussions with president putin. i've spoken to the leaders of france and the united kingdom. we will work together, in consultation with russia and china, to put together a resolution at the un security council, requiring assad to give up his chemical weapons, and ultimately destroy them. we will also give inspectors a chance to report what happened. and we will continue to rally support from allies, europe, asia to the middle east, who agree on the need for action. meanwhile, i have ordered our military to maintain their firm posture, to keep the pressure on
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assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. and theire military families for their incredible strength and sacrifice. nearlyow americans, for seven decades, the united states has been the anchor of mobile security. this has meant doing more than forging international agreements. it has meant enforcing them. the burdens of leadership are often heavy. but the world is a better place because we have borne them. to my friends on the right, i ask you to reconcile your commitment to america's military might with a failure to act when a clot -- when a cause is so plainly just. to my friends on the left, i ask you to reconcile your believe in freedom and dignity for all people with images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor.
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sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough. indeed, i would ask every member of congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask, what kind of world will we live in if the united states of america sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way? said,in roosevelt once our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged. ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be
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used. america is not the world's policeman. terrible things happen across the globe. and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. but when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, i believe we should act. that is what makes america different. that is what makes us exceptional. humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth. thank you. god bless you. and god bless the united states of america. >> from one hour and five
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minutes ago, the president as he addressed the nation on the situation in syria. the question tonight -- did he convince you? 202 is the area code in washington, d.c. you can also join us on twitter and share your thoughts on facebook. this view on our twitter page. track ofso keeping some official responses from here in washington, including this from lynn's previous -- from lines premise -- from r eince preibus.
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that official statement from the rnc tonight. michael is joining us from california, new jersey. you say the president did convince you? have been in favor of his stance from the beginning. i, like many americans, watched in horror when this first occurred. i felt for years that the syrian regime has acted violently against its own people, not just the current regime, but also the regime of bush are -- of bashar al-assad's father. i am in favor of a direct military strike on syria, although i am not in favor of putting boots on the ground. i think it is important the civilized world reacts when a
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country uses weapons of mass destruction against its own people. in iraq under the threat that there might be weapons of mass distraction which might all into the hands of terrorists. now we have a regime that has clearly constricted it will not hesitate to use them against people they find to be a threat. as this situation continues to fall apart, there is just no telling where those weapons will go, who will deploy them, and who they will be used against. i think it is important that we do, as a country, draw a line in the sand, and send a signal to syria and other bad actors around the world, who might look at the use of chemical weapons to murder in an indiscriminate way. >> we are keeping track of your comments on facebook as well. let me share with you a few of the things you are saying.
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says, you cannot believe anything the president says. from the democratic leader of the house of representatives, nancy pelosi issuing a statement. she says, tonight, the president made a principled presentation to the american people about how the use of chemical weapons impacts our national security.
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the president used a credible threat of american military action to bring diplomatic solutions back to the table. >> the one thing i would like to point out -- the president clearly stated the fact that we be helping these extremists, the very same people ago toorrow, 12 years the day, launched an attack on this country that took thousands of lives. we are going to turn around, and we are going to justify helping them because of what is going on in another country that has nothing to do with the united states of america.
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it is a question being raised. the solution is simple. secure the borders. increase security. i do not know what launching an attack is going to do other than escalate the situation. people are crazy. if the president is crazy enough to think that countries like russia and their allies are not going to get involved, they are crazy, because they will get involved, and it is going to escalate, and it is going to turn into world war iii. it is going to get really crazy. >> thanks for the call from harrisburg. did the president convince you? >> absolutely not. there is a multitude of reasons that i do not agree with the president. i am a former member of the intelligence community, over 15
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years. number one, the united states and the international community so far theist, and only consensus here is the united states wants to take unilateral action, and all of the other big layers have either voted it down or are dead set against it. one of his compelling bits of evidence was that the syrian government issued protective masks to their soldiers. newsflash -- every soldier in the united states has their own protective mask, which they carry with them 24/70, especially in a combat zone. there has been a civil war going on for two years. areas androlled regime controlled areas have flip-flopped back and forth.
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there is no way that assad has managed to maintain 100% accountability of its chemical weapons supplies, based on the current civil unrest in syria. it is very conceivable that the rebels did attain some. and if you see the types of weapons that the administration has shown -- there were mortar rounds, which are very short , veryrockets, unguided stupid-proof weapons that anyone could launch from anywhere. and what better way to mobilize international outrage against assad than the use of a wmd? four, syrian is about the most milquetoast nerve agent out there. there are a number of antidotes available that would completely reverse the effects of serum -- of sarin if administered
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quickly. >> we appreciate you adding your perspective as a former member of the intelligence committee. a joint statement from senator john mccain along with senator lindsey graham, who spent some time at the white house, meeting with the president on the situation in syria. here is how they responded.
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again, that statement released i senator john mccain, along with his friend, republican senator lindsey graham of south carolina. jonathan allen is the white house bureau chief for "politico." think you for being with us. give us the back story to tonight's speech. last 36nged in the hours in terms of how the president and his staff prepared for tonight? >> it is almost easier to account for what did not change. like the president was going to give a speech that echoed what he had been telling members of congress about the to hitto war, they need assad. all of a sudden, secretary of state john kerry said maybe we
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would be willing to forestall that military action if assad is willing to give up all his weapons, and then back away from it and said, obviously that is not going to happen. the russians said, wait a second. we think we could make this happen. all of a sudden, the white house embraced it. tuesday, you have the administration working on two tracks. one is to build the diplomatic process to get rid of assad's chemical weapons. authorize theo president to use military force if that diplomatic process is not successful. then the president went out and that i gave a speech think everybody thought was essentially the one he would have given anyway. i think it was evident from the speech that there is still a lot of deep skepticism within the white house about the seriousness of the russians and syrians, and the ability to take control or put into international hands controls of
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the syrian chemical weapons. >> there is a piece by you at politico.com. the president makes his case. did he do so tonight? >> i think he tried to make the case tonight. not know if you believe the -- thereemical weapons are probably some people who have changed their mind. but i think most people have been pretty locked in. what you hear from members of congress is, the more the president makes his case, the less they are interested in voting for it. we are seeing the numbers pile up over time. the case that he made tonight was not any different than the one he has been making.
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mindst it changed many and hearts here. however, i think the russians and the syrians are an audience for the speech. to continue to talk about going to war is a diplomatic tool, at the very least, for the president. >> this was going to be on the eve of a key vote in the u.s. senate that was delayed late yesterday by senate and leader harry reid. as you look at this, will lawmakers even vote on a resolution with regard to syria, knowing that at the moment he does not have the votes in the house of representatives, and it remains a question in the u.s. senate? >> what you are seeing take hold, and it is still early -- i think you are starting to see traction for a proposal that condition theway use of force in syria on the failure of syria to get rid of its chemical weapons. right now, they are looking for a straight use of force authorization. we have seen it in both chambers
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of the house. senators mccain and schumer leading an effort in the senate. does not get assad rid of his weapons, the president would be authorized to use force against him. i have a feeling that will be more appealing to members of congress than a broad authorization the president sought. that in mind, is that the next step? what do you expect to happen tomorrow? we know thursday the president will be working out some sort of resolution with his russian counterpart. >> if i can just make it to tomorrow, i will be pretty happy. i think everybody is in a holding pattern right now. you had huge pressure on the president, his aides, the cabinet, and congress. we were marching toward war. for the second time, the president has essentially hit
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pause. the biggest feeling in the capital today was really. members were happy to not have to make a decision to vote on anything, to authorize the president to go into an unpopular war or to weaken the presidency. the same sort of dynamic. you vote for it, and you will be accused of being a hawk. the democratic party has very much been opposed to some of the recent wars. i think everybody we talked to sounded happy about this temporary solution. from alabama, he said something to the effect of, i hope are is a diplomatic resolution, a good one. >> jonathan allen is the white house bureau chief for political.
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as always, thank you for being with us. get more information online at politico.com. also getting some of your feedback or comments. >> i think the president made a pretty strong case. i also think that senator mccain is an elected official. havenk they actually stood
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stood behind the president, as to america, because he is taking it very easy, as i see it. it was not long ago -- i remember 9/11. i could not believe what was happening on the tv. it was a shocker. police,ot the worlds but something has to be done. america is not that insensitive about what is going on in the world. >> tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of the september 11 attacks. during our coverage in the washington journal tomorrow, we will take you to the white house, where there will be a moment of silence. the president will also pay in new in ceremonies york city. at can also watch it online c-span.org. live coverage on our companion
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network, c-span3. the senate armed services committee releasing a statement with regard to the address on syria. i will read you part of what he said. that statement from senator carl levin of michigan, who is stepping down as he retires from the u.s. senate. us from newoining york city. did this president convince you tonight? >> president obama did not convince me tonight.
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i do not think he gave enough evidence. not seeing that assad is responsible for it. obama did not convince me of anything. he has put more doubt in my mind within the last two weeks than i have ever had. we have had knowledge of chemical weapons since june of this year, and nothing has been done about it. now, we are all of a sudden ready to go to war with syria. i am not for it, for the simple fact of, he has lied in the past, and he keeps lying. >> was there anything he could have said tonight that would have changed your mind? >> there is nothing. he is trying to involve us in wars that involve the muslim brotherhood and al qaeda. i do not understand why congress does not invoke some kind of a -- impeachment against him, given that we would be
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supporting al qaeda in this war. >> i agreed with him because the united states really is not a world police. but other countries do not really want to do anything about it. when you see that children are being gassed to death, it is quite terrible. they should not deserve that. to see people like france back down from a fight when the u.s. gets involved in stuff, and then russia supports syria, it seems kind of ridiculous. >> thanks for the call. andrew is joining us from reading, pennsylvania. >> how you doing? >> go ahead, andrew. you are on the air. >> can hear me? >> sure can. >> i disagree with the act of a
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targeted strike against syria. involvement could make the situation more aggressive. it poses no immediate threat to our military, there are other regimes out there that could potentially ally with them. process, a pinpoint strike or a targeted attack is not going to be the only resolution. sure, it might put a dent in their military. but in the same token, it could aggravate the situation. >> thanks for the call. says, isn'tiewers it possible is on the phone in sterling, kentucky. mcconnell,r, mitch announcing he would not support any airstrikes on syria.
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your take on that and the president this evening? foremost, i want to say i do not mean any disrespect for mr. obama. i absolutely do not support military intervention in syria. for one, we have millions of our own issues in the united states. andher reason is russia china and their possible conflict. i personally think we should avoid any conflict of russia and china and even iran. i do not see how us going into syrians, is not going to lead to more conflict and war casualties. are all the snipers? why can't we just take out assad? it will not help because they are being protected underground in bunkers. i believe we are only going to kill more innocent civilians. >> thanks for the call.
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and for all of you with your thoughts and comments. in a moment, another chance to watch the president lost speech from the east room of the white house, the ninth time he has addressed the country in primetime, and the first time since israel action. state,mer secretary of hillary clinton, who received the liberty award, presented by former governor jeb bush -- the entire event will be airing on the c-span network. we wanted to share part of what she had to say about these developments in syria, and the president's comments tonight. >> the assad regime has used lethal chemicals against men, women, and children. that violates a use -- a universal norm, and demands a strong response from the international community, led by the united states. this debate is good for our
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democracy. ferventounders knew, arguments are the lifeblood of self-government. how could a republic last if citizens had no opinions about the issues of the day? or were too intimidated to express them? at example, the delegates the constitutional convention debated -- of hillaryents clinton earlier tonight in philadelphia at the national constitution center. from about an hour and 45 minutes ago, the president as he addressed the nation on syria. his remarks lasted 15 minutes. >> my fellow americans, tonight i want to talk to you about
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syria, why it matters and where we go from here. over the past two years, what began as a series of useful protests against the repressive regime of bashar al-assad has turned into a brutal civil war. over 100,000 people have been killed. millions have fled the country. america has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition and to shape the political settlement. but i have resisted calls for military action, because we cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in iraq and afghanistan. the situation profoundly changed when bashar al- assad's government gassed to death over 1000 people, including hundreds of children. the images from this massacre are sickening.
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men, women, and children lying .n rows, killed by poison gas others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath. a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. on that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons, and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off- limits. crime against humanity, and a violation of the laws of war. this was not always the case. in world war i, american g.i.'s were among the thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of europe. in world war ii, the not cease used gas to inflict the horror of the holocaust. these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them.
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in 1997, the united states senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 198 governments that represent 98% of humanity. 21, these basic rules were violated. along with our sense of common humanity. disputes that chemical weapons were used in syria. the world saw thousands of videos, cell phone pictures, and social media accounts from the attack. humanitarian organizations told stories of people packed with -- of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas. we know the assad regime was responsible. chemical weapons personnel prepared for attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. the distributed gas masks to their troops. they fired rockets into 11
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neighborhoods the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces. shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and wounded. figures in a solid's military machine reviewed the results of the increasedd the regime their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed will stop we have studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin. when dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until the horrifying pictures fade from memory. but these things happened. the fact cannot be denied. the question now is what the united states of america and the international community is prepared to do about it will stop what happened to those
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people, those children, is not only a violation of international law. it is also a danger to our security. let me explain why. if we fail to act, the assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. the ban against these weapons are rose -- erodes. others will have no reason not gas and usehemical it. our troops would face chemical warfare on the battlefield. it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and use them to attack civilians. these weapons could threaten allies like turkey, jordan, and israel. weakens would prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction, and embolden iran, which must decide
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whether to ignore national law by building a nuclear weapon, or to take a more peaceful path. this is not a world we should accept. this is what is at stake. that is why, after careful deliberation, i determined that it is in the national security interest of the united states to respond to the assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. this strike would be to deter assad from using hisical weapons, to degrade regime ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. that is my judgment as commander in chief. but i am also the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. even though i possess the authority to order military strikes, i believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to congress.
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i believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of congress. and i believe america acts more effectively a broad when we stand together. this is especially true after a decade which put more and more warmaking power in the hands of the president, and more on the shoulders of our troops, while sidelining the peoples's representatives from critical decisions about when we use force. i know that after the terrible toll of iraq and afghanistan, the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular. or .5all, i have spent years working to end wars, not to start them. our troops are out of iraq. our troops are coming home from afghanistan. i know americans want all of us in washington, especially me, to concentrate on the task of building aren't nation here at home, putting people back to
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work, educating our kids, growing our middle class. it is no wonder that you are asking hard questions. first, many of you have asked, what this put us on a slippery slope to another war? one man wrote to me that we are still recovering from our involvement in iraq. a veteran put it more bluntly. this nation is sick and tired of war. my answer is simple. i will not put american boots on the ground in syria. i will not pursue open-ended action, which iraq or afghanistan. i will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like libya or kosovo. this would be a targeted strike objective,a clear deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading assad's
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capability. others have asked whether it is worth acting if we do not take out assad. some members of congress have said, there is no point in simply doing a pinprick strike in syria. let me make something clear. the united states military does not do pinpricks. even a limited strike will send a message to assad that no other nation can deliver. i do not think we should remove another day header with force. we learned from iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. but a targeted strike can make assad or any other day hater think twice before using chemical weapons. other questions involve the dangers of retaliation. we do not dismiss any threats. but the assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military.
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any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats we face every day. neither a solid nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise. our ally, israel, can defend force,with overwhelming as well as the unshakable support of the united states of america. many of you have asked a broader question. why should we get involved at all in a place that is so complicated, where, as one person wrote to me, those who come after assad maybe enemies of human rights? it is true that some of assad's opponents are extremists. but al qaeda will only draw strength from a more chaotic see the worlde doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death. the majority of the syrian people and the syrian opposition we work with just want to live in peace, with dignity and
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freedom. the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism. asked,, many of you have why not leave this to other countries, or seek solutions short of force? as several people wrote to me, we should not be the world's policeman. i agree. and i have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions. over the last two years, my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations, but chemical weapons were still used by the assad regime. days,r, over the last few we have seen some encouraging signs. the crediblese of threat of u.s. military action,
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as well as constructive talks i've had with president putin, the russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing aside to give up his chemical weapons. the assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons, and even said they would join the chemical weapons convention, which prohibits their use. it is too early to tell whether this offer will succeed. any agreement must verify that the assad regime keeps its commitments. but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because russia is one of assad's strongest allies. i have therefore asked the leaders of congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. i am sending secretary of state john kerry to meet his russian counterpart on thursday, and i will continue speaking to
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present written. i've spoken to the leaders of france and the united kingdom. we will work together to put forth a resolution at the un security council requiring assad to give up his chemical weapons and ultimately destroy them under international control. you anll also give inspectors a chance to report. and we will continue to rally support from asia to the middle east, who agreed on the need for action. meanwhile, i have ordered our military to keep the pressure on assad. to to be in a position respond if diplomacy fails. i think our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices. my fellow americans, for nearly seven decades, the united states has been the anchor of global security. this has meant doing more than
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forging international agreements. it has meant enforcing them. the burdens of leadership are often heavy. but the world is a better place because we have borne them. right, iends on the ask you to reconcile your commitment to america's military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just. left, i asks on the you to reconcile your believe in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor. sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough. indeed, i would ask every member of congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask -- what kind of world will we live in if the united states of america sees a
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tatar brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way? franken roosevelt national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot deepnt us from feeling concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged. principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in syria. along with our leadership in a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used. the world'sot policeman. terrible things happen across the globe. and, it is beyond our means to right every wrong. modest effort and risk, we can stop children from
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being gassed to death and make our own children safer over the we should act.nk that is what makes america different. that's what makes us exceptional. , we humility, like resolve must never lose sight of that essential truth. thank you, god bless you, and god bless united states of america. >> the president is walking down the hall and entering the room of the white house. that was the speech delivered two hours ago in washington dc. the ninth primetime address by the president since taking office. his first of the second term. the president spoke to the country 16 months ago about an jointce -- about the
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agreement to withdraw u.s. troops and work with the hamid karzai government. the president outlined his plan for syria and initially planned to the speech on the evening of a senate vote. all congressional votes have been put on hold because of the diplomatic developments over the last 36-40 eight hours. we will continue with more of this tomorrow morning on washington journal. there will be two members of congress. a member of the house foreign affairs committee. a republican from north carolina. chair,ogressive caucus co- a democrat from arizona. our spotlight on magazines will feature the 50th anniversary of the assassination of john f. kennedy. tomorrow marks the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks
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in washington dc and the pentagon. city andrk shanksville, pennsylvania. we'll have live coverage and the president will have a moment of silence. that is part of our coverage in the washington journal tomorrow morning. on c-span3, the president travels across the potomac and is joined by chuck hagel and the joint chiefs of staff as they the part in a ceremony at pentagon. they are joined by relatives and members of the military. it is on c-span3 and there'll be a ceremony on the u.s. capitol at 11:00 eastern time. all this will be streaming on our website, at c-span.org. earlier today, here in washington, john kerry testified before the house armed services committee. the session lasted several hours. this covers russia and the role
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and china. there's operations for airstrikes in china -- syria, but those have been put on hold. questions to secretary kerry and general density. psey.m [indiscernible]
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>> before we begin the business of the committee, i want to make it clear that the members of the refrain from manifestations of approval or disapproval of the committee proceedings or interfering with the committee's business. any disruptions from the public will not be tolerated and, if necessary, will result in the removal from the committee room. i want to state this at the outset so that everybody knows the rules. good morning. to receiveee meets testimony on the proposed authorization for the use of military force in syria. our witnesses include the secretary of state, john kerry, the secretary defense, chuck hagel, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, martin dempsey. very busy week. we appreciate your time and
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effort that you have made to be with us and to inform this committee and the american public. you have important work that you are engaged in. this committee is closely monitoring the conflict in syria. the options, the risks of those options, and the costs of military action in syria. today, i hope that our witnesses will focus on the case for military action that has been and over the last two weeks address the justifiable concerns that have been raised by bipartisan members. this includes understanding more the second order a fax. how a limited strike will achieve these goals? how will the administration respond should boxer assad miscalculate? have toions do we
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respond to as relational retaliation? , you testified -- let's start with the question of how you pay for military actions in syria. it is clear that a supplemental will be required. history tells us that there will be a second or third order of facts that will require military action. it gives me great pause and we have not addressed the devastating cuts to our military due to sequestration. even as we commit our military to a nether new mission will stop we have surged troops to afghanistan and cut the military's budget. we are pivoting to the asia the and we arecific cutting the budget.
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to one pointtotal $2 trillion. we are considering strikes on syria while the military budget gets cut. i share president obama's concern about assad's use of chemical weapons on his people. i'm concerned about the united states's standing in the region. either in forces redlines or they become irrelevant. -- in forces redlines or they become irrelevant. enforces redlines or they become irrelevant. havesheet and chiefs who served with them and have not know what they have to spend at the end of this month going into the next year. that is not a way to run an
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organization. multiple rounds of defense cuts and sequestration are hanging over their heads. decisiveness, clarity of purpose, and leadership, the president has the ability to elay these concerns. i look forward to answering your testimony today. >> thank you for this hearing. i want to thank our witnesses. and for youre leadership in this crisis and many other difficult issues that we face as a country. there's no question, at this point, that assad used chemical weapons in syria. the intelligence case that has been made has been overwhelming in the hearings that i have been a member of. ere inhas killed somewh the neighborhood of 100,000
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civilians. the challenge for us in this panel and for the people who are testifying is, how do we best response this? how do we hold assad accountable? --there is no question there's no question and i agree that controlling chemical weapons is a goal that we must have. 10 a military strike accomplish that -- ken a military strike -- can a military strike a congress that? -- accomplish that. risk that these dangerous weapons could fall into more dangerous hands. given the presence of our qaeda qaedaher groups -- al and other groups. it is very difficult and we will have some serious questions as to how that is accomplished. we look forward to hearing from our witnesses to better
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understand this problem. we are interested in how serious the russian proposal is. in terms of holding assad accountable and limiting chemical weapons. is that so that i can happen? -- is that something that can happen? lastly, i want to agree with the chairman on sequestration, it is an enormous problem. it adds a layer of complicate -- complications. i would and sequestration tomorrow. we can talk about how to get the budget deficit under control. revenues and spending, all that, but the one thing that we know bethat it was never meant to implemented. to be anant
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enforcement mechanism and that intention failed. we should eliminate it and stop torturing the discretionary budget on a day in and day out budget. positive be one tiny in the otherwise very gimmick situation. -- dim situation. i think this panel for being here today. >> secretary kerry. mckeown and members of the committee, i'm privileged to be here this morning with secretary hagel and general dempsey. forward tore looking the conversation with you about this complicated and challenging, but critical, issued that our country faces. we do not face it lightly.
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secretary hagel and i come here with the enormous amount of andect for this process would each of you go through at home. the challenges you face with constituents and the complexity on this issue. this is good. it is good that we are here. we are having a conversation. hearing,vene at this it is no exaggeration to say that the world is watching. they are watching to see what we decide and how we decided. not we have the ability when so much is on the line, the challenges of , it isnce, writ large important to show the world that we have the ability and we speak
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with one voice. we believe that that can make a difference. ofdless to say, this is one the most important decision that any member of congress makes during their service. we all want to make sure that we leave funny of time for discussion. and we a large committee will try to summarize these comments and give the opportunity for a q&a. i want to open with a few comments. there are questions that i'm here for major colleagues and from the american people. -- from many of your colleagues and from the american people. any ask you why we are having debate on syria at a time when so much needs to be done here at home and we know what that agenda is. that thesure you
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president of the united states did not wake up and just kind of say, "let's go take military action in syria." he did not choose this and we did not choose this. we are here to guys assad -- we hashere today because assad met the request for reform in his country with the lutz, bombs, napalm, and gas. , bombs, napalm, and gas. more than 400 children dead. regime made a choice. president obama believes and all of us at this table believe that we have no choice but to respond. to those who doubt whether or
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not assad's actions have consequences, remember that our inaction will bring about worse consequences. all of us, we will all face this, if not today, somewhere down the line. gives license out to do it again. threaten israel and jordan. create greater instability in the region. stability is one of the greatest priorities to our foreign-policy and national security interests. that crazy to the second question that i have heard. -- that brings me to the
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second question that i have heard. what does this have to do with us? i know what you are all hearing. the reaction in the country is that we do not want to go to war again we do not want to go to afghanistan. out.en how that has turned i get it. i will speak to that in a minute. i want to make it clear that what assad has done directly affects american security. america's security. with the huge national interest in containing all weapons of mass destruction. the use of gas is a weapon of mass instruction. to beng those weapons used with impunity would be an enormous change in our armor -- chink in our armor. think about it.
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benefit from the prohibition against chemical weapons. briefing,d in the some of you i noticed with decoration, some of you are still in the reserves. you know the training that you went through. i went to chemical, nuclear, biological warfare school. they make you take off the mask and see how long you can do it. it is not that long. those weapons have been outlawed. one has been subjected to it since world war i because we stand up without prohibition. there is a reason for that. do not answer assad today, we damage a century-old standard that is protecting american troops in war. to everyone of your
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constituents, icq, why did you -- i say to you, why did you look at this? region isity of this in the our direct security interest. and friends in israel, jordan, and turkey, are all a strong the wind away from or from a are blissful attack -- purposeful attack. it could pave the way for a more serious challenge in the future. you can ask our friends in israel. in israel, they cannot get enough gas masks. there is a reason that the prime minister has said that this matters. this decision matters. it is called iran.
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iran looms out there with their nuclear program. that moment is coming closer, in terms of decision. they're watching what we do here. they're watching what you do. that means something. if we choose not to act, we will be sending a message to iran of ambivalence and weakness. it will raise the question, i have heard it, i meet with people and they ask about our long-term interest and future. do you mean what you said? are you going to do something? not the whether or u.s. is committed. ask if the president will cut a deal and the congress will back it up. this is all integrated.
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i have no doubt -- i talked to prime minister netanyahu -- israel does not want to be in the middle of this, but we know that their security is at risk in the region is at risk. i also want to remind you that you have spoken to this. your word is on the line. you past the syria accountability act/ -- act. act states that syrian chemical weapons threaten the security of united states. that is in the legislation and you voted for it. , the national security interest of the united states are the national security interests of the united states are at risk with chemical weapons of, uh, syria.
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the fourth question i have been why isn't diplomacy changing this dynamic? , on behalfmphasize of of president obama, president obama's first priority has been and is diplomacy. diplomacy is our first resort. we have brought this issue to the united nations security council on many occasions. we have sent direct messages to syria and have had syria's allies bring direct messages. do not do this. do not use these weapons. all of this was to no avail. vetoed threeina security council resolutions that condemned the regime for inciting violence and resolutions that promote a political solution without dialogue. russia has even put out press
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releases, press releases, that expressed humanitarian concern for what has happened in syria. they condemn the generic use of chemical weapons and do not assigned blame. they have blocked them. protecting civilians and printing used chemical weapons thepromoting -- prohibiting use of chemical weapons and promoting security are in our shared interest. those general statements have been blocked. that is why the president has directed me to get to a geneva- two keys negotiation -- peace negotiation. endsl emphasize that the is a political solution.
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and askingare coming for a long-term military -- i mean, some people think we ought to be -- but we don't think there's a military solution in syria. political solution will ever be achievable as long as a side least he can just gas his way out of this predicament -- just believes that he can gas is way out of this predicament. countries have signed onto the g-20 statements. it is a powerful one that endorses the united states. , saudi arabia, france, many others are committed to joining with us. inare in the double digits terms of countries that are
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prepared to take action should they be or were they capable of it. signed onto the g-20 statement. colleagues, we can only become stronger if other countries know that america is speaking with a strong voice and with one voice. if we are stronger as the united nation around this perfect -- perfects -- purpose. we need you, the congress. that the president did. the president brought it to congress with confidence that congress would want to join in to uphold the word of the united states of america, not just the president. the united states of america. with respect to these weapons of mass destruction. some people want to do more in syria.
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some people are leery about doing anything at all. one thing we ought to all be able to agree on is that chemical weapons to not be under the control of a man so craven that he has repeatedly used those chemical weapons against his fellow syrians with horrific results that all must have been able to see. yesterday, we challenged the regime to turn them over to the international community so that they can be destroyed. that, of course, would be the ultimate way to degrade and deter assad's arsenal. it is the ideal way to take away this. benefactors, the russians, have said that they would come up with a proposal to do that. inhave made it clear to them several conversations that this cannot be a process of delay.
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a cannot be a process of avoidance. it has to be real, measurable, tangible. it is exceedingly difficult to fulfill those conditions. we are waiting for that proposal. we are not waiting for long. president obama will vicky hartzler at it -- will take a hard look at it. it has to be real and cannot be a delaying tactic. the united nations security council seeks to be the vehicle, that cannot be a debating society. ande are many countries someone military action and some do not. they want to see this idea can become a reality. mistake, make no mistake about why this idea has any
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potential legs at all and why it haveat the russians reached out to the syrians and why the syrians suggested they and a lotnterested -- of people say that nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging -- is -- it is thee credible threat of force that made the regime and knowledge they have a chemical weapons it not -- arsenal. -- it is the threat of this force that has motivated the talk about real and credible action. how do you maintain that pressure? continue to show syria, russia, and the world, we are not going to fall for stalling tactics.
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and the challenge we lays down -- a potential to become the if the challenge that we have laid down has the potential to become real, it is because the commander in chief. let me correct a misperception. my conversation with steve, he mentioned this, i've heard it, i talked to many of you, you told me you hear it. the instant reaction of a lot of i amcans -- and sympathetic to it, i understand ,t, i know where it comes from i only stopped sitting where you sit a few months ago. i know what the feelings are. raq.le do not want another i do. of us with all due respect, we cannot make his decision on the budget. we cannot make this decision on
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our wishes. we have beeng that through the ringer for a while. we are the united states any american people look to us. they look to us for the meaning of our word and r-value's. they wanted -- our values. we are not talking about america going to war. is not askinga for a declaration of war. we are not going to war. there will be no american boots on the ground. , no american boots will be on the ground. what we are talking about is a targeted, limited, but that willial action reinforce the prohibition against chemical weapons. general dempsey and secretary
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hagel will tell you how they will achieve that. we are talking about an action that would degrade assad's ability to do these actions and make sure he cannot proliferate. the president is asking for the power to make sure that the united states of america means what we say. mr. chairman and mr. ranking say withlet me absolute confidence that the risk of not acting is much greater than the risk of acting. >> if we fail to act, assad gets the ability to act again. he can turn chemical weapons into tactical weapons. general dempsey can tell you about this. it would make -- take an exception -- a purposeful
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exception and make it a rule. it would undermine our standing. it would erode our strength in the world. in a world of curis -- terrorists, we ignore this at our peril. we cannot have chemical weapons transform into the new convenient weapon. bomb, thehe car weapon of everyday use. neither our country nor our conscience can bear the cost. that is why i have come to ask you to join us in this effort. chairman, ranking member smith and members of the department of defense as a responsibility to
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protect the national security interest of the united states. general dempsey and i take that really seriously. support president respond to the assad's regime chemical attack on their own evil. the heinous assault on civilians and women and children. i support the authorization for the use of force in syria. i believe that secretary kerry outlined those reasons clearly. has made clear that it is in our national security interest to degrade assad's chemical weapons capabilities and deter him from using them again. as secretary kerry mentioned, yesterday, we outlined a way to accomplish this and of her military action.
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assadld require the regime to turn over their chemical weapons to international control so they can be destroyed forever. as president obama noted, in a verifiable manner. this option might be a real solution. yet, we must be clear and inshore that it is not -- insurer that is not a stalling that it is note a stalling tactic. of credible, real, threat u.s. military action must continue as we are talking. we will continue to talk and discuss throughout the week. it was the president's determination to hold assad accountable.
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that enabled this new diplomatic track. the support of congress for holding assad accountable will .ive even more energy congress has the responsibility to continue this debate. knows that we are committed. this is the most difficult decision that military leaders had to make. they had the responsibility to ask the tough questions. the americane people that their leaders are acting according to u.s. national interests. will the find military objectives. militaryefined objectives. the president and his national security team asks difficult
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questions. i want to address how we reach this decision by clarify the u.s. interest at stake here and in the future. our military objectives and the risks of not acting at this critical juncture. theresident obama has said, use of chemical weapons in syria is not just an assault on humanity, it is an assault on our closest allies. riskegime's actions eroding the long-standing international norms against the usage of chemical weapons. those norms protect the homeland and american forces that are operating across the globe. the weakening of the storm has grave consequences -- of this
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norm has grave consequences for global stability. these weapons are profoundly destabilizing and have been rejected by the international community. syria's use of chemical weapons threatens our friends and partners along the borders. including israel and jordan. turkey, lebanon. it increases the risk that and couldwill use acquire chemical weapons to use them against our interests. we can to prevent hezbollah or any terrorist group that is determined to strike inside of the united states from acquiring chemical weapons and we cannot allow terrorist groups and authoritarian regimes to mistakenly believe that they can use ethical weapons against u.s. troops. againsthemical weapons u.s. troops.
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insured --need to be ensured that the u.s. will stand by its word. they cannot develop weapons of mass destruction without consequences. where cera is embolden and not deterred is not the world that we want to live in, as president obama said at last week. for jebel, north korea, with their massive stockpile of chemical weapons, threatens the republic of korea. threatens the 20,000 u.s. troops stationed on the dmz. asia, i had a to serious and long conversation with the south korean defense minister about the real threat that north korea' weapons presents to him and our troops.
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given these threats to our national security, the united states must demonstrate through our actions that the user chemical weapons is unacceptable. the president has made clear that the military objectives in to hold thee chemical weapons attack. the greater their ability to carry out these attacks and to deter the regime from further usage of them. hasdepartment of defense developed military options to achieve these objectives and we assetssited you his throughout the region to successfully execute -- we have deployed it u.s. assets throughout the region to successfully executed. be ready to act whenever the president gives the order. we are working to build broad international support for this
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effort. secretary kerry has noted this. leaders of this country have condemned this atrocity and called for a strong international response. other nations have signed on to the statement. secretary kerry also noted this. we made clear that we are not seeking to resolve the underlying conflict in syria through military force. america's sonsd and daughters to fight the civil war. we are not contemplating an open-ended intervention. solution created by the syrian people is the only way to end the violence in cera. -- syria. secretary kerry is working to help parties move towards a negotiated transition. we have also expanded our
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assistance to the moderate syrian opposition. we will reinforce the larger strategy of strengthening diplomatic efforts and making clear to assad that he cannot achieve victory through violence. having defined american interests, we must examine the risk and consequences. there are always risks in taking action. there are also significant risks with inaction. the regime, under increasing has an arsenal of chemical weapons and could feel empowered to carry out more devastating weapons attacks. this would deepen the refugee further destabilize the region. and refusal to act will the credibility of the
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united states and the credibility of the president. the word of the united states must mean something. it is vital current seed and foreign relations and international relations. today,itness here secretary kerry, general dempsey, myself, have served in uniform and fought in war. we have seen the ugly realities. like many of you, we understand that the country raises few decisions as grave as military force. we are not unaware of the costs of war and we understand that america must protect its people. we must protect our national interests. immediate, bute for the future. that is our highest responsibility. we have a responsibility to serve this great nation in the american people.
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especially those who wear the uniform of our country. americaus debate i how -- on how america should respond to chemical weapons usage in cera. i know everyone in this committee agrees that they take this as seriously as the president does. i thank you. >> thank you. smith, thankmber you for the opportunity to share my perspective on the usage of force in syria. thank you for the great support that you provide to the armed forces. the president has made a determination that it is in our national interest to respond to a side's usage of chemical weapons with limited military force. wheree reached the point assad uses chemical weapons as the military toward that he's willing to use indiscriminately. sot is what makes things
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dangerous to the region and the world. my role is to provide the president options about how we could employ military force. he has directed me to plan for a militarily significant strike. that we deter assad regime and degraded the regime's ability to employee chemical .eapons disrupt strikes will those parts of assad's oranges that are directly related to the attacks. will degraded the assets that a side uses to threaten his neighbors and defend his regime. electively, such strikes will send a deterrent message and hurtstrate our ability to the capabilities he values the
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most and strike again. united states has forces ready to carry out the orders of the american commander in chief. we seek to mitigate the potential for miscalculation and escalation. as well as, minimize the collateral damage. prepared toare support our friends in the region should assad choose to retaliate. i do not tell you this, the men and women of america's armed forces are well-trained and prepared. i am honored to represent them. to --l to execute, you go your military will respond. >> before in the foreign relations committee, -- before the foreign relations committee, you testified that congress had voted. your testimony no longer
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explicitly states this. that russia's proposal to put chemical weapons under international control and assad's agreement to this proposal, has the administration's's edition on -- theposition administration's position on the aumf changed? is it necessary? >> the president believes that we need to keep this threat and this reality on the table. he wants the congress to act. i think the senate has decided hold off to see if there's any legs in the russian proposal. we want you to act. there is no -- there is ndaylige
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administration's commitment to thismoving to secure authorization. cannot to know that if be performed, if this is to play, or if this is a -- if this is a delay, we can hold assad regime accountable. the use of force should not be off the table. we are not asking congress not to vote. -- it may be that if we see the russians make a proposal, that is up to the president. nothing is changed them up with our respect for congress to take action on this. as to when and how, that is something that the president may need to chat with leadership about. >> thank you.
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you are the concerns that i had about committing our military to in other mission. , a combat mission, without addressing sequestration and the readiness crisis. would you agree that it is not possible to prepare for the second or third order costs? torefore, it is not possible prepare the costs? know, america is unmatched in our ability to deploy military power. this is conceived as a limited operation and we are within our capability to conduct it. i sure concern and have expressed it in this hearing room and elsewhere. sequestration, the force
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that sits behind the deployed force will not be ready. not about this operation, but in general, the contingencies are affected the cousin sequestration. -- because of sequestration. aircraftst of having carriers, we're talking about $30 million a week. these numbers add up. they are fungible. the money has to be found somewhere. generally, it is coming out of --oiness and away and down &m. &m.o
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>> i share your concern about sequestration and i have a tour -- articulated it. we can find the money to pay for this. >> i've no question that you will find the money. it is where you find it and doesn't deplete our readiness for other areas. at war inll afghanistan and we need to make sure that troops are trained. i have one other question. and anlk of russia international community coming in and taking charge and destroy the chemical weapons, i have heard, in the past, from our military leaders, that this is an expensive operation and would take troops on the ground. whoever provides them. the united nations -- whoever provides them.
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there would have to be troops in the ground to secure these weapons. sayf thatble people there's an expense to destroying this -- say that there is an expense to destroying this. is there any discussion about who is going to pay for this? when the international community does something, we are the ones who pay for it. keepl that i have to bringing these issues up because and see-- as i go out and talk to and visit races and see the training that is going on -- we cannot afford to fire our weapons is made times as last year in training -- all of these things have an impact. we have gone over this in many hearings. we need to remind people about
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487 billion dollars in cuts before we get to sequestration. it is not going away. we have to be aware that this has to be part of the consideration. as important as things are, we whatngto pay for these things d implications it has on our military. .r. smith weariness,k about war- that misses the mark. it is not necessarily the weariness of the war, it is the lessons that we should have learned and did not own those wars. the lessons of the limitation of american military power to fix problems in the world. saddam hussein was a problem. we had two no-fly zones and sanctions. all sorts of controversies doing with him. you can imagine a better
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situation in iraq than the one that saddam hussein presented. we have learned the ability of to unit -- united states take care of this is limited when there is a lack of international support. is the u.s. response going to do to truly fix the situation in syria? little -- unilaterally, virtually nobody is stepping up to put up any money or resources or two point there are military put theirto military ont the line. get into a more realistic explanation of what we can or cannot fix. the expectations in the world are off the charts. uae, and there's is
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this feeling that whatever happens, we are powerful enough to fix it. that is not true. i like to downsize those expectations. beverages second part of the question -- that brings me to the second part of the question. if a leader uses chemical weapons, it would be nice to build some international support and military power. if we do not remove him from power, are we holding them accountable? you have articulated this well. we're trying to be consequential, a limited strike. does that truly hold them accountable question mark if you still empower and running the country, is he held accountable? how do we really do that? lastly, we are concerned about removing assad. chaos. of the
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assad does not control the whole country. how long will he control the chemical weapons stocks? as bad as it is to have assad, i think we agree that it is worse to have chemical weapons scattered to whoever gets him first. we are taking a stake and hitting the hornets nest without killing the hornets. we are teaching the influence as a lesson. -- we are teaching the hornets nest a lesson. >> very good questions. let me answer them. this is not a piecemeal operation. it is not a piecemeal approach by the administration. one part is separate and being dealt with over here and another part over here.
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although, we're trying to separate the nature of their response.he ofh respect to the limits american power, there has always been limits. we learned those lessons before our most recent excursions. , that lessonhis has informed president obama's decision and approach year. -- here. he is specifically not asking the congress to empower him, going, and takeover syria's civil war because of those lessons. ist the president is doing making an informed decision about what the military can achieve and what we as a country
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need to achieve here. that is to enforce a prohibition against the usage of chemical weapons. he has erected the military to come up with a set of options as to how you can degrade the ability to deliver those weapons and send a sufficient message of not doing it again. , and general dempsey can testify to this, that the targeting concept can achieve this. >> i'm sorry, but this is something we try to get at. launched weapons at the artillery, not the weapons. how are we going to degrade his ability to deliver the weapons? >> i want to speak to that i'm a
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but i want to answer the question, because it is important to understand that in context. while it is not the primary , thereve of the strike will be a downstream impact. as everyone here knows, the is supporting the opposition in certain ways. track whereeparate pressure will continue to be put to bringsad regime them to the negotiating table to implement geneva-one. some people say there's no strategy here. there is a strategy. is that a place for a long time. -- it has been in place for a long time. geneva one. proposalgned on to a
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that has a transition governing entity that would be greeted by the mutual consent of the parties with full executive authority at with ben said of the new syria to be decided on by the syrian people. how do you get there? people -- if gases assad 10 gas his people, you can gaser -- if assad his own people, you'll never get there. > what if he can kill his people with impunity? does that not send the same message? >> is the difference between
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what a dozen people being killed by artillery and scuds? >> is the question i'm asking here -- that is not the question i'm asking here. >> that is that the goal. this strike is not calculated to remove him. it is not calculated to be the game changer. it is calculated to stop him from using weapons that we decided in 1925 should not be used in war, and represent a war crime. i think i should let the general speak as to how this is targeted to do that. i do not want you to have confusion that you're being asked to do something that is specifically geared towards getting involved in, or taking over serious civil war. that is not the purpose of the strike. the purpose of the strike is limited and targeted.
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some wanted to be more. the president has decided that it is inappropriate. he believes it ought to be targeted to prevent chemical weapons. >> i will see this answers your question. we can't prevent him from using chemical weapons again. that is not possible under the current construct. i'm not sure it is possible short of him giving them up or someone seizing control of them. we can to turn and a grade. -- we can deter and a grade. the grade is -- degrade is taking away some of the capabilities. short-rangey rockets. there are target packages that address the command-and-control, apparatus,on-making not to degrade the syrians ability to control the weapons,
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and safeguard their security, but the command-and-control of those who chose to use them. some of the other resources that the regime uses to protect itself. we have a full range of options. the resident has not yet given me the final decision on those target packages. we have a range of options. >> thank you. >> thank you. we're going to open up for questions. i one force the five minute limit. the five enforce minute limit. everyone has important questions to ask. will you please respect the time for everyone equally. mr. jones. >> thank you. i would like to start my questioning by reminding this committee and the american 23rd, that on october
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1983, to honor 41 marines were -- 200 marines were lown apart. i want to breed from the biography of ronald reagan. of middlenality eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy. rethinking ad be policy before our men died, we would have been better off if that policy had changed to a neutral position, neutrality. those marines would be alive today." i think mr. reagan for having the courage to look at the situation, and understand that the middle east can be a jungle. that brings me to this point, and my question.
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i've represent the third district of north carolina. 60,000 retired military in the district. days, we received over foreigner 15 telephone calls -- or hundred 15 telephone calls. telephone calls. 97% said no to this action. i have marines call to say please register me as a know. -- a no. my question to you, how will we determine that the strikes are successful? what contingency plans are in place if other countries take aggressive action as a result of our strikes?
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do we believe hezbollah will simply stand by and watch? those last two questions are very important to me as a representative, and important to the thousands of people in the third district of north carolina. what contingency plans are in place if other countries take aggressive actions as a result of our strikes? do we believe they will simply stand by and watch? if you could answer those questions, i other questions i would like to submit an frightening -- in writing. if you could answer those questions, i would be appreciative. >> d want to talk about it? >> i can talk about the risk of retaliation.
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we specifically are asking about russia and iran. we assess the risk of retaliation, because of the limited nature, i can't drive it to zero. i can tell you that we are postured in the region in order to deal with any miscalculation and retaliation. >> innocent people will be killed. that is a given. innocent people in syria will be killed. it is an assumption i can assume? >> you can make that assumption because war is an imperfect science. you can also be sure that part of the targeting criteria i have been given by the president is to achieve a collateral damage of low, which is i can talk about a classified setting what that means. congressman, first, your
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comments concerning your constituents, as well as general dempsey and mine, the marines. do not let them send me to serious was the paraphrase. i just want to remind everybody that that is not the objective. that is not what is in the resolution of authorization. that is not why the president came to congress. it is not about sending marines to syria. questions, as i said my statements, there are always risks. and consequences to actions. there are risks and consequences to know actions. i believe as firmly as i'm sitting here this morning, and i think i have some justification for believing this, that if no response from the international
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community occurs, to what assad has most recently done on august 21, and other actions he has taken prior to that, he will do it again. we will be back here revisiting this issue at some point. the next time we revisit this, it may be about direct american casualties, and the potential security of this country. we have planned for months of planning on the contingencies that you talked about. what if's. where are our assets deployed? are we prepared. what are we anticipating. from the state department security offices, we spent days with secretary kerry's people on anticipating hits on our embassy . there is no operation perfect. i cannot guarantee anything. i would leave it at that.
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>> the time has expired. >> i have written my questions down. i have thought about every single word of these. these are the set of questions i'm going to ask for secretary kerry. in articulating the basis for military action against syria. the president and many administration have laced emphasis on the moral and legal dimensions of the issue. i believe you called the attack on civilians a moral obscenity, and one of the justifications has been the alleged violations of the laws of war for use by chemical weapons. two questions. would you please define the circumstances in which you believe deliver targeting of civilians will lead to an american intervention, and why not in every case, why not rather civilians have died and we did nothing, is the woman ministration committing itself
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to military action in every case in the future were civilians are deliberately targeted and internal conflict, or only with chemical weapons are used. secondly, do you agree enforcement of the chemical weapons ban and other violations of international law of for must comply with the fundamental charter? of the u.n. that charter, a duly ratified treaty by the united states, prohibits use of armed force against other nations except with a un security council resolution. self-defenseminent warns military action, and self- defense must be imminent. 24-minute -- to permanent members are opposed to this force. no one in the ministration has argued that the united states is under imminent threat. the president seemed to say that
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we didn't have to worry about assad and his capability. kim military action be legally justified under the u.n. charter. , even whenrcements we are not threatened, and when the u.n. performances -- refuses to authorize force when it goes against our own law. you support vigilante action for other nations to enforce international law. >> driven questions. i will do my best to try to address them. the deliberate targeting of civilians, i wish it were clear. i really do. as you all know, president clinton wrote in his memoirs that his greatest regret as president was not responding to the slotted to place in rwanda.
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we did respond and coast of oh kosovo.so g there has been developing theory that some people attach. we have not adopted as a nation, nor as an administration with respect to the right to protect. but nato did make a decision outside of the u.n., with the u.n. with respect to the situation of benghazi and the threat they face from qaddafi and the united states acted at that point in time. i think that there is no hard and fast rule, but our legal justifications under certain circumstances with respect to international treaties, such as
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the international convention on weapons of mass destruction. the president is not making an argument. charterelieve the u.n. takes more into account and a chemical weapon international law? thever regret that circumstances we find ourselves in are such that the principal mechanisms for you when justification do not ideally fit the situation. it is just a reality. the president has a knowledge that prayed the president has tried hard to make the u.n. a primary focus of his efforts. gone to a president resolution question >> yes. of thise beginning event, on the 28th, i believe was around the 28th, that was a
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resolution that our ambassador to table.n. attempted the russians opposed in the chinese oppose it. we can bring it for. the first one was a general condemnation. then we try to get all means necessary. that was objected to. that is when the president started to look elsewhere. resolutionsof those being refused at the u.n.. >> the time is expired. can you please complete the answer? sometimes this business comes down to making tough choices. thank you for helping us make these tough choices. you assured us that we were not going to war. i think most of us on this committee realize that if tomorrow, i foreign country launches a barrage of tomahawk missiles into washington dc,
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they have just gone to war with the united states of america. i'm afraid that some individuals in syria may have a hard time discerning whether those mightes launched constitute war. i do agree that we cannot base our decisions on the budgets of i want to take sequestration off the table. not even deal of sequestration. i want to ask you, which you feel is more detrimental to the defense question mark failure to respond with a small military response against syria against its own people, or cutting 587,000 billion dollars from our national defense, planning to cut strike groups, reducing our f-22 fleet when the air force says we need to under 250, creating a training
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and doing air force, away with the joint forces command without any pre-decision analysis? would you pay choice number one or choice number two? >> i hope those will not be the choices. >> they were the choices. choice number two is what the ministration did outside of sequestration. i need you to give me perspective. if you did that or the other, which would've be? >> i went your question. let me make one thing. i hope the congress and the president will resolve the choice number two. >> that is not related to sequestration. these were cuts made before sequestration. the president proposed --
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[indiscernible] moreme which one is detrimental question >> for the long-term, to completely decimate the internal dynamics of our military structure is obviously the longer term problem. that is not the issue at hand. you talk about sending a great will -- which you believe sends a greater message? cutting $587 billion out of our national defense, planning to cut strike rooms, reducing our f-22 fleet, and destroying seven navy cruisers, which have the fire power of the navy? >> those are not the choices
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under -- on the table. >> that is irrelevant to what we're doing here. we're trying to figure out whether we are going to proceed forward with a resolution. -- this isquestion not a budget hearing. likes since europe one answer my secretary deems he said if we need the money, it will be found in interest. i haven't waiting for you to come back and pound your fist on the table as strong as your talking about abby getting this military strike to say why haven't put that back? why are we talking about cutting carrier strike groups? down?ve we cut our f-22 ie reason that is relevant, am hearing from veterans groups, defense industry, ordinary citizens, who do think that is a valid question for us to have been asking.
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it comes down to this. is it ministration loves to reduce the -- to use the military. resources to asia, the afghanistan surge, you just don't want to pay the price it takes to have a strong military. you can answer after that. are you officially withdrawing your request for us to take action on a military response immediately? i -- i'm not asking you. i've been informed the president of united states, while we have been sitting here, which i knew was going to take place, has completed a conversation with -- and with premise or cameron. i have a conversation with premise of obvious. we talk about where we are with respect to the russian proposal. they agreed to work closely
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together in consultation with russia and china, to explore the viability of the russian proposal. and, to put the syrian cw under the control of a verifiable mechanism. efforts are going to begin today to do that. i do not know that is it. i'm not here to know. usi said, what has brought to this discussion is the potential of this force. we do not want to take it off the table. it would be dangerous to do that. with respect to the budget, a point of personal privilege of. we are all concerned. i am not in politics now pray i'm out of politics. i spent 28 years up here. i know what is going on. we're all concerned about the readiness of our military.
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i hear it in different places. everybody knows that this nation is wealthy enough, and has the capacity of congress. it will make his decision on the budget to fund we need to fund. 587e voted to cut that billion. >> no i voted to put in place a mechanism that would mind up with us solving our budget and deficit problems. it was never put in place. go back to what i said. i'm going to enforce the five minutes. ,f you want a question answered leave enough time for the answer. if you just want to make a point, make the point. that is fine. take the whole five minutes. i will cut it off at five minutes. >> andrews question -- >> we just received the news
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that you just made reference to. according to the president, efforts will be made at the u.n. and include discussion of the potential security council resolution on this international disarmament or postal. -- broadhere is fraud support to make that happen. i agree with your assessment that absent a credible threat, it would not have happened. i think that is a very good observation. you said earlier, and your testimony, this proposal has to be real and verifiable. what criteria are we going to use to evaluate whether this proposal israel and by her bible? verifiable russian mark >> we have been -- what criteria are we going to use to evaluate whether this proposal is real and verifiable?
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-- whether the weapons are in the control of the regime, obviously. -- finishedozen sulfur, mustard, binary components for sarain, on next components, and they also possess munitions, and other things you can't go into here. we're going to have to be able to know that it can be accounted moved under the circumstances to a place where they can be taken out. >> could any of the three of you describe the practical issues involving the safety of the personnel who would be performing the task? >> that is a huge issue.
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>> what is necessary to take place among the factions in syria for that to be a viable practical option? the benefit of the fact that they've been trying to deny, that they controlled these weapons, and as the war has progressed, and the opposition has taken over one particular territory or another, we know they have moved these munitions into their safely controlled area prayed that is a virtue of the way that we have tried to manage the weapons program. that is now in regime controlled territory. therefore, it is our belief, it is all initial. i do not want to go into detail. , if not all that, is in an area control of the assad forces, and if they're going to make good on this, they have to make good on the protection and cell. these are going to be the things that have to be worked out and
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negotiated in short order. the president appropriately is not going to allow some nickel and dime in long process while the continues to process. >> is important to put this discussion in context. this is not a proposal that spontaneously combusted. i know that you and your press -- predecessor have tried for 2.5 years to enter into good faith negotiations with the syrians directly and through their allies, and international organizations. your you briefly summarize effort that has brought us to this point? >> the assad regime has until now deny they even had the weapons. there's been no discussion fundamentally that he would do it. it has been suggested talked about to some degree. as i said, i had conversations about this with my counterpart
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from russia last week. the president raise the issue with president obama at st. petersburg. president obama directed us to try to continue to talk and see if it is possible. it is not something that suddenly emerge. it did publicly. it cannot be allowed to be delayed. the only reason it is on the table today, the only reason the assad regime has even publicly consented to the russians that they would be able to do something, having never admitted they have these weapons, is isause this threat of force in front of them. >> i think we all wish you rate success in achieving a successful resolution to this effort. >> mr. miller? >> you said there should be no delay. is that correct? >> has to be a reasonable time to work this upgrade you have to
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see whether this has any need to agree if it does have me, i think that is important. >> again, -- >> the senate has delayed. >> because they do not have the votes? that is why they have delay. >> actually, no i don't. i'm glad you know something. this is not a political discussion about whether they have the votes are not. >> it is the truth. they do not have the votes. we'd any newspaper in this country and you will find that out. -- or read any newspaper in this country and you will find that operate >> i don't know that. >> to the house delay or move forward? this is the house of representatives. >> t want to play politics or get a policy in place?
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get this particular option of getting control of chemical weapons in place. if you want to undermine that, play the politics. --how about this would you ask the witnesses to limit their answers to the questions that are asked? explain whatase incredibly small strike is? >> it is not iraq. it is not a rant. it is not a years floor -- it is not irna. it is not a year's war. i have said this will be meaningful. the assad regime will feel it because it will degrade their military capacity. compared to iraq, libya, it is small. it is not any of those things.
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that doesn't mean that it would be anything less than what i previously, that assad will know we do not depend recs. the president has said that. term --degrade and the deter. compared to them, it is small. >> has assad directly threatens the united states? >> chemical weapons directly threaten the united states of america. the instability of the middle east -- >> are we going to strike north korea? they have the largest start file -- stock pile. >> they have one of the largest stockpiles in the world. we are currently engaged in a very serious effort, which i
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think you are aware with, working with the chinese. i went at the -- [indiscernible] you don't want answers. >> this is not the senate. we do not filibuster here. >> i'm trying to give you an answer. has assad attacked any of our allies? >> not to my knowledge. at this desk, whose side are we on? >> with respect to? >> syria. >> we are supporting the opposition. >> which? >> the watered opposition -- the moderate opposition. >> i believe you just referred to the fact that congress with the doing things
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syrian opposition, is that correct? >> we are helping the syrian opposition. >> you said congress voted to support that. >> i said congress has all rise us to do some things -- >> let me make a record her we clear. i voted no. i had a vote. >> i'm happy to have the record be made clear. >> thank you. yield back. >> thank you for being here. i know you have made several attempts for this. i am wondering because the american people are interested in watching, could you articulate further and is there thating you have not said would better suggest why american interests are at stake? the else can you tell american people that you perhaps feel you have not had time to do? >> in my opening statement, i
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laid out, so i am grateful for the time i have to do that. i do not want to repeat all of it. there is no question in our mind that if the united states of america cannot stand up and make a real what we have said with respect to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians, that we then opened pandora's box for its use not only by assad in the days ahead, but others who will begin to use it, as an everyday tool. that will have been and honorius breach -- an enormous reach of 100 years of believe these weapons should be used in that form or any form ever. it is because of their ness artillery is
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targeted and kills, yes. gas can kill many more people and is much more dangerous and we need to stand against it. we also know our friends in israel, jordan, lebanon, turkey, and iraq are all deeply affected by the potential of this weapon gaining greater usage. the instability that will be bred by the unwillingness of the united states to stand up against this will have to who somes as people choose to support in this fight in syria and could in fact significantly increase the amount of support going to the worstists, to the elements, because they will be viewed as the ones most committed to getting rid of assad. there have been times when we have not acted in that way. people have wanted -- wondered whether the president had not mentioned or spoke to a red line that would still be in this place to this day. >> thank you for the question.
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to be madeeen a lot politically. the president did not create the red line. this is a red line that a republican or democrat president would or should support and through years of effort, republican and democrat administrations alike have helped to advance the effort to get the world rid of weapons of chemical, biological, and nuclear. this is one of the three great weapons the world has decided to stand apart from other weapons, not that we do not want to work in other ways to reduce the number of civilians killed, but this particular weapon has a special meaning in the context of war and the threats we face today. >> thank you. i want to follow up quickly. i think everybody here is very
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concerned and we want to move forward with what we have heard, possibly, progress, and the discussions coming up. totainly, as it relates and other interested parties in the conflict. i am wondering if, short of backing off from this, is there a resolution you think could be entertained that would in theer eight -- enumerate what if if in fact we are not able to move forward and get that kind of resolution? is there any way that we ought to be speaking out on the options that we have, if that does not occur? i would include cyber within the discussion. what would it look like if the congress were to have a resolution that would basically say, in the absence of, this is where we go, i know the senate is looking at that.
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question having great faith in the ability of congress coming together in wordsmithing necessary. yes. my answer would be, of course there is an ability to mold a resolution that has contingencies or replaces an appropriate approach of the spear that is within the purview of congress. we are prepared to work with congress closely to achieve that. i would like to answer the congressman earlier about the question in north korea. the difference here is that serious has used these weapons and have done so after being repeatedly warned not to. makes thisin what more compelling. >> the time is expired. mr. wilson. >> thank you. thank you for your leadership, promoting peace through strength. i appreciate the panel being here today. i am a 31 year veteran of the army, national guard revert -- reserves. i am grateful to be the dad of
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four sons currently serving in the military. that is why i am so concerned about the confused policies of the administration. the ever-changing part of the thevalence -- policy, ambivalence. a projection of weakness that put the american people at risk. the white house -- chemical warfare in syria, april 25. they failed to act. secretary hagel, will a military strike by the united states against syria cause a dramatic increase of refugees seeking asylum in jordan? could a sudden increase in the number of refugees threaten the government of jordan? ?o we have plans to help jordan >> thank you for your service and your sons'service. 2rst, there are now more than that have fleds
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syria. that is a real issue dow. half a million in jordan now. turkey, iraq. we have got a huge problem now. ,s to your specific question with a limited, defined, scope on siv's chemical weapons capabilities produce more refugees? the different contingencies, reactions, possibilities, of the kind of strikes we are talking about, the options we had given the president. youink it is very unlikely would see any increase in refugees because of the nature of the kinds of very precise strikes we are talking about. >> again, the stability of jordan is crucial to america. i hope planning is in place.
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understand the president said the objective is not regime change. he also said no boots on the ground. however, there are always unforeseen circumstances. if assad were to lose power, would it not be necessary to place troops there to secure the chemical weapons? >> that is another contingency we have obviously spent a lot of time looking at. it is one of the reasons, as was noted earlier, that in that ofup of options, the strike a chemical weapons music -- munitions facility would be off- limits for obvious reasons. as to your question, what would happen if assad's government ofs down, in the eventuality a loss of control in those chemical weapons facilities
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here and we are working and have been working, coordinated very closely, with all of serious neighbors on this particular issue, turkey, jordan, iraq, israel, saudi arabia. yes. we are always looking at those options as to how we would respond, what we would do and have to do. >> can i add to that this is not to raisegeared the risk of losing control over those? secondly, there will be no boots on the ground in this operation. if something occurs down the road -- >> it would have to come back to you. >> to many different competing groups. we know al qaeda is involved. i do not see how it could be guaranteed there would be a real potential for international terrorists to achieve chemical weapons.
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another concern i have, the limited strike your it would russia not be able to immediately resupply the syrian regime? additionally, we now know the russian fleet in the mediterranean is larger. is there a potential of conflict with the russian federation? >> in the time remaining, there is always the possibility serious allies would seek to replenish. than theyake longer assess at this point. in terms of the fleet, they have been building that up even before the recent spike in activity. >> mr. larson. >> thank you. to the house of
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representatives 2013. we do not filibuster around here. we have a different name for it. . will try to be quick it was actually charles warner who said everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. it seems we are in that position on chemical weapons where we are talking about what we ought to do with chemical weapons, but we are -- at least in the house -- not willing to do much of anything about it, or trying to explore what to do about it. what i want to hear from secretary kerry is, what we are going to do about it. going to focus on the chemical weapons only, getting those under control and leading production capability,
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with syrian hands, control in the syrian hands, or will we tried to broaden this more? >> we're going to do something, that's why i'm careful to make certain that i don't over hype or present what's possible from it because we don't know yet. we need to explore this, we're looking at it on our side. the russians are supposed to make a proposal to us. i will be talking to labrov after i leave here and we're talking about it at the state department and the white house to determine exactly what will produce the result we want. what guarantees that you've got the weapons, got all the weapons, that they're accountable, that they're out, and that you can manage this? under the circumstances that exist there. those are all the things that have to be gamed an vetted in
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full and i don't want to make any predeterminations about that that, you know, could falsely raise expectations or leave something out that ought to be in there. i think we need to let this fill out a little bit and it needs a little time. >> my point is it gets beyond the actual weapons themselves because it was apparently today that syria -- >> we're talking about the more than just -- >> just a moment. i'm talking about production capability and perhaps command and control, desegregating that organization there. for general dempsey, mr. willson talked to humanitarian refugee cries -- crisis, how that might be added to from a strike but can you talk a little about your assessment, to the extent you can here, planning with the guards retaliation or response from iran or hezbollah as a result of strikes? >> without being specific, as you know, we've got -- we have mutual defense agreements with
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turkey through nato work jordan directly and of course with israel and we've got forces and personnel who at times like this establish crisis coordination mechanisms. we've got personnel in those three countries doing exactly that. we've also both because of the current tension with syria but also the fact that the 9/11 anniversary will be here tomorrow, we've also got forces at heightened states of alert and readiness throughout the re-- throughout the re. >> i want to -- that's good enough for me for now.
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thanks. i yield back. >> thank you. mr. turner. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have one question for secretary hagel, two for secretary kerry. secretary hagel, in my congressional district is wright patterson air force base where as a result of sequestration, which i opposed, over 12,000 people were furloughed. i've met with some of those
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people, they've had difficulty making house payments, support for their chirp, car payments, they were concerned about their finances. with the sequestration, they were told the department of defense didn't have enough money to pay them. yet now the department of defense is telling the american public it has enough money to take us into this conflict in syria. how do you explain that to those people who lost wages and are facing the pross peck of losing wages again in 2014 due to the president's sequestration? >> well, first, i have made my position known very clearly on sequestration and i've restated it here so i don't think i need to address that again, it's irresponsible, it produces exactly what happened on furloughs and the decisions we're having to make now and will have to continue to make if sequestration continues as it is the law of the land because the congress and the president agreed to that as a mechanism. that said, to your specific point, you also know that we took five of those previously announced furlough days back because of, really, focusing on where we could find the money to essentially improve our operations. we took that money out of -- >> but you understand that they don't understand how it is that you would not have enough money to pay them yet you have enough money to take us into a conflict with syria. >> if you allow me to get to the second part of the answer, it's important everybody understand that issue about furlough. we took five of those furlough days back because through a lot of very astute management and robbing from our future readiness, by the way, to get that. now your question, if in fact there is a strike, in syria, it is now the middle of september, we go into another fiscal year in about two weeks. so a significant amount of the cost of that strike, obviously anything that goes beyond october 1, would be in f.y. 2014. which currently does --
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>> does not -- which current sli subject to sequestration. >> everything subject to sequestration. but you asked a specific question. >> you said you'll take it out of next year. but to say to people who are not getting paid, having their pay reduced, they're looking at
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sequestration stopping in 2014 because the president has no proposal on the table. >> that's not true, he does have a proposal on the table, i introduced it but if you want to get into the budget debate about that we can. he zruzz a propezal on the table. i would also answer your question this year, the national security interests probably trump budgets. that's up to the congress to decide that. i think that's important. no one anticipated this. we were trying to plan as west we could to take down another $32 billion in the fiscal year we're still new york anticipating taking another $52 billion next year. >> secretary hagel, thank you, i don't think anybody quite understands your answer but i appreciate it. >> i'd be glad to write it out for you. >> i would appreciate that. secretary comment, you keep citing an act in 2003, it was about syria occupying lebanese territory, it was about iraq and support for terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. it was a sanctions bill. it wasn't authorization for military action. but interestingly enough it included a provision requiring that the state department
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notify congress every year about where syria is on the weapons of mass destruction. here's the report the state department delivered july 9. it includes this statement. our intelligence community has assessed with varying degrees of confidence that syria has used these weapons in syria. we know allegedly saddam hussein used chemical weapons on the kurds, you said there's a centuries old standard, we must take action or there will be rampant use of chemical weapons. clearly there have been times when they were used yet no military action occur. why is this different?
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>> it's very different. that's a good question. it's different because first of all the president was not racing to try to use military action but he -- >> mr. speaker, would you please answer that for the record. his time has expired. >> absolutely, mr. chairman. >> ms. boar tallow. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing. thank you secretary kerry, secretary hagel and general dempsey, for your continued efforts to inform congress on the current situation in sir ark we do appreciate it. i am supportive of limited military intervention against syria. i'm deeply concerned that a lack of a u.s. response has profound impacts not only to countries in the he's but also to our allies in other regions of the world. secretary kerry if congress fail to act on authorizing some level of military force, what impact do you see with our allies in other region os they have world and in particular i'm concerned about the asia-pacific area. >> well, i know for a fact, congresswoman, thank you, and thank you very much for the support for the president's proposal, we're very, very
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concerned that -- with respect to our current efforts to deal with iran, the president has made it clear that while he doesn't ever want -- his first preference is a diplomatic solution but if he can't get a diplomatic solution, we cannot stop the march toward nuclear weapons. the president made it clear he's prepared to do what's nest necessary to stop them. that word, that promise, which is critical, would be at risk. if this promise is put at risk because the congress doesn't support it. now as i said earlier, this is not the president's sole statement.
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this is something that people have adopted over a period of time but yo uno, this isn't anything different, frankly, colleagues, from the way things work in congress. when i was here, your word was everything. if you gave your word to someone that you'd be with them, that's the way you operated. if somebody broke that, you'd never trust them again. you wouldn't use them as your co-sponsor or work with them on the bill. that's critical. and that is just the same in international relations. our friends in the region, israel, the junior danian the lebanese and others who are all
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at risk for what is happening there, are looking to see whether or not we will stand behind them, our values, our interests, and the words we have pronounced with respect to all of the -- those three. and that's what's at stake here. >> thank you. i also, you know, i'm heartened to see developments in working out a possible solution with russia that would entail removing chemical weapons from syria. if it depends on honesty, i'm not sure this proposal would ever materialize. and i do realize, mr. speaker, and -- mr. secretary and general dempsey, that we certainly, the effect, if we don't go through with something here, is going to be devastating to our country and our nation, our image throughout the world will -- i can just imagine how they're looking at us already as we're debating this issue. so again, i just want to say that i am standing behind the president's solution to this matter, whatever comes out, whether it's the russian proposal or if we go ahead with the obama proposal. and i thank you very much.
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mr. kerry: thank you very much, congresswoman. >> thank you, congresswoman. >> mr. scott. >> secretary hagel i was going to ask if you thought the sequester cuts and other cut were degrading our military strength but i think you gave that answer, that it's decimating the internal structure of our military. is that correct? >> i have said that many time, you can't have the kind of deep, abankrupt cuts we are experiencing and continue to have those with the uncertain i have to planning without having an effect on our readiness and our future capabilities, yes. >> i agree with you. and therefore it's a threat to our national security. >> yes, it is. >> thank you. i've listened and general dempsey, i know you indicated that the threat to our national security was essentially that if we don't stop him, he will do it again and other mace follow suit.
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is that what you believe the throat our national security is? >> generally speaking. to the congressman, what's different this time? it's the scope, the scale, really, of the use, the use of toyota clear a neighborhood, which indicates that it's gone from being a small scale use that was used to terrorize, to a large scale use that's now indiscriminate. if that becomes a global norm, i think we're at great risk. >> i guess in -- i respectfully disagree with that assessment, that it's a threat to national security. if he has a thousand metric tons and secretary kerry, that's the number you just said a minute ago, that would be 2.2 million pounds, is that correct? >> well, i'm actually an english major but i'll take your word for that. >> it's 2.2 million pounds. and he -- if he had delivered 500 pounds 20 times, and he's not delivered that much that would be 10,000 pounds of 2.2 million potential pounds of chemical weapons. some of us have legitimate concern, i mean, only a small fraction of what he has has been used and my concern is, i hear about a limited military strike, i go back to when the president said assaad must go,
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we've heard them talk about imneeding to move him out. these comments have been made in the past prior that august. i guess my concern now is that we're sitting here, talking about going to war, some would say it's not a wark i believe it is. most of the time when a leader decides to go to war, they use a doctrine and follow certain principles on whether or not it is or is not justified. colin powell's doctrine had seven principles, clear and attainable objectives, have risks and costs been fully analyzed, have all other means been exhausted is there a plausible exit strategy have the consequences been fully considered is the action supported by the american people, do we have broad international support. secretary kerry, my question for you as a representative of the administration is would you list for thinks principle os the -- principle -- principles of the doctrine president obama uses in making a decision whether or not to go to war?
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>> well, how much time do sniff >> one minute and 35 seconds. >> ok. i think the president has great respect for colin powell and he and -- and so do i. i was always impressed by the principle he is laid out. but i found that not every single situation, unfortunately, always lends itself to that. there are occasions where the president has to make a decision that may or may not have broad support or may not have exhausted all the remedies simply because of the time frame. i don't think that's the situation the president -- that's the situation. the president is going through the process of the u.n., he's
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trying to build international support. >> mr. speaker -- mr. secretary, i'm down to about 45 seconds but i'd like to know the principles. >> you know what i'll do, i'll submit to you within 24 hours in writing so you have a chance to weigh that properly. i don't want to do it in 30 seconds. >> that would be perfect. i would just appreciate the principles under which the president uses with the decision to go or not to go to war. with that, mr. speaker, i yield the remainder of my time. thank you for being here. >> thank you very much. mr. kourtney. >> thank you. secretary hagel. just quickly for the record, the budget submitted back in february by the white house for fiscal year 2014 incorporated a turnoff of sequester, isn't that correct? it proposed again turning off sequester for 2014 by finding other ways to recuse -- to >> it was theficit.
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president's budget for 2014 that did not include sequestration. >> i just wanned -- wanted to get that out clearly in the record. >> yes, thank you. >> chairman mckeon has over the last year and a half had a number of hearings on syria. general dempsey you've attended a number of those, as well as your colleagues from central command and in every instance, you have been very, i think, candid about the downside risk of almost every option that was posited in terms of a military response to syria. and when secretary kerry was sort of laying out his concerns about the -- you know, whether or not a u.n. mechanism to take control of the chemical weapons was really, you know, got a lot of practical issues, you've been also very clear about the practical concerns about military force in terms of control of the chemical stockpiles.

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