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Obama Cites Peace Prize Speech in Sweden, as Draft Resolution Offered [Text]

President Barack Obama meets with Members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 3, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Before leaving for Sweden and the G20, President Barack Obama meets with Members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 3, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Update >>> Syria authorization passes in Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 10-7, now goes to full Senate. McCain, Flake & Corker vote with Obama.

AFTER CAMPAIGNING to get Congress to support Obama on Syria, Senator John McCain said today that the draft Senate resolution wasn’t sufficiently strong for him to support it. So, you now have McCain working to give back more power to the executive branch. It gives you a perfect contrast between Republicans and Democrats on the divisions of power and how Congress versus the presidency is seen by the two parties.

While this was breaking, President Obama was in the middle of a press conference in Sweden, a stop before the G20. Taking a moment to reflect on Mr. Obama, it’s clear that the Syria crisis and the efforts to get support for a strike have awakened him profoundly. Understanding that the Administration’s middle east policy has floundered for some time, Obama did something extraordinary today, which is a continuation of last week’s Rose Garden address on Syria.

Instead of using the usual jingoism we’re so used to hearing from presidents on the way to using military action, President Obama has chosen a different tactic, which is moored in blunt honesty and transparency that reveals his heart, passion and purpose behind a leader’s horror at seeing Assad systematically slaughtering his people, which basically amounts to ethnic cleansing. Obama’s performance today in Sweden was the most transparent he’s been on matters of war and peace, as he referred to his Nobel Peace Prize speech in answering a question, with the remarks at the time shocking many seasoned watchers. When receiving the award he talked about the collision of war and peace when the American president confronts it in real time. Today, Obama specifically referred the press to this speech, which you’ll be reminded was not an anti war doctrine, but one of pragmatic leadership in a world of bad actors.

Van Jones, who has gone from saying “strike this week” to doing a 180 and no longer supporting a strike, and Tavis Smiley, as well as many in the progressive community, should re-read this speech and reacquaint themselves with the man in the White House who on Syria is being true to himself and his world philosophy, whether people like it or not.

And yet, a decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states — all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

We’ve come full circle with Barack Obama, with his performance as president today in the throes of a bruising political showdown on Syria one of his finest moments. That it would come as his policy in the middle east was exposed is a point where humility reached his heart. It’s given a window for a man who’s willing for the first time, I would say, to inspire himself to find the confidence to speak from his heart, throwing away props and tele-prompters, something he had chosen not to do before, because he was always so intent on performance instead of revealing his humanness to the people.

Below is the statement from the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez [h/t TPM] on the draft resolution to get President Obama the support he seeks, with the text of the draft below that:

“Sharing President Obama’s view that our nation is best served when we come together as one, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has crafted a bipartisan Authorization for the Use of Military Force that we believe reflects the will and concerns of Democrats and Republicans alike. Together we have pursued a course of action that gives the President the authority he needs to deploy force in response to the Assad regime’s criminal use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, while assuring that the authorization is narrow and focused, limited in time, and assures that the Armed Forces of the United States will not be deployed for combat operations in Syria. The mass atrocity committed by the Assad regime in grave violation of international law requires American leadership. We have an obligation to act, not witness and watch while a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in plain view. With this agreement, we are one step closer to granting the President the authority to act in our national security interest. I thank Ranking Member Corker for his continued collaboration and partnership and look forward to our work together in the days ahead.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee – Syria AUMF

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16 Responses to Obama Cites Peace Prize Speech in Sweden, as Draft Resolution Offered [Text]

  1. Ramsgate September 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Great piece Taylor.
    Stuck. I do not want to have to think about this. LOL. And I have a very strong feeling that no one else does either. That’s why we elect leaders. To make these tough choices and decisions. As such, I cannot get past how amateurish this has been handled and how all of these things should have been thought through before he made his pronouncements.
    No one is REALLY seeing the bigger picture and calling him out on this. It also explains why Bill Clinton is in Arkansas right now explaining his health care program. Amateurs.

    • Taylor Marsh September 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      “There are no good options here.” – Secy Hagel

      …and a decision to make on whether leaders can use chemical weapons on civilians.

      Yes, NO ONE wants to be where we are today. No one.

      No argument that this has been handled poorly.

  2. mjsmith September 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Senator McCain talks about his combat experience. I would like to see McCain’s proposal put forward in order to make 100% certain that Congress will avoid approval of any US involvement in Syria.

    I wonder if McCain thinks he is an expert on Syria because he went over there and hung out with al qaeda over the summer?

    • Taylor Marsh September 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      McCain tinkered with the authorization, then supported it.

  3. Ramsgate September 4, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Its also a crying shame that in the end when push comes to shove, some poor bastard will have to sacrifice his or her food stamps or Medicare or maybe even social security for these air strikes. The Republicans will want their two pounds of flesh. Now they don’t have to shut down the Government. Bet Obama didn’t think of that. He probably only perceived them acting honorably in the country’s interest.

    • ladywalker68 September 5, 2013 at 9:10 am #

      Totally agree, Ramsgate. And as far as Obama trotting out his Nobel Peace prize, I am not impressed. First of all, I have no idea what the committee was thinking this when they awarded it. As far as I am concerned, it was way premature, he had done nothing yet to warrant it, and his tenure has been anything but peaceful.

      Those who are arguing that by taking out the Syrian Regime we will halt further use of chemical weapons, well, Obama has clearly stated his objected is not to “get” Assad. So if he doesn’t get Assad, how do we know he won’t use the weapons again? At the very least, the chemical weapons have to be destroyed somehow, and exactly what does that mean? How do you destroy chemical weapons without releasing that junk into the atmosphere???

      Hats off to Stephen Colbert. Not only does he skewer Bush, he also show cases how lame Obama has been in making a plan or a case:

      http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/428825/september-04-2013/cris-ish-in-syri-eh

      Liberty Toast=Priceless….that Peace Prize might as well be an Academy Award…

      • ladywalker68 September 5, 2013 at 9:11 am #

        objected should be “objective”…{{{ sigh }}}

    • Taylor Marsh September 5, 2013 at 9:22 am #

      That’s just nonsense, Ramsgate. Republican right-wing factions have wanted to shut down the gov. over Obamacare for a long time, way before Syria was in play.

      The House never has trouble cutting food stamps or cutting Medicare, which has nothing to do with Syria.

      The defense industry lobby is never going to sacrifice much, regardless of strikes in Syria.

      I realize this is a good line people like to use, but both parties will always fund military over social services, regardless of our involvements.

  4. Antonio September 5, 2013 at 1:36 am #

    Hello Ms Taylor,
    I ‘m waiting on the very ” important ” …discussing of …Travon Martin and the FED civil Trial…”Syria and the Bombing of cilvilians”…and the all inevitable attack on “IRAN for the processing and illegal use of Nuclear weapons………!!

    I LOVE YOU and Ms JOYCE……!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m still here……………………………………….!

    • Taylor Marsh September 5, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Always good to hear from you, Antonio.

  5. mjsmith September 5, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    “Whereas the Arab League has declared with regards to the August 21 incident to hold the Syrian regime responsible for this heinous crime”

    The Arab League voted in favor of UN inspections and only supporting action through the UN. The other nations in the Arab League stood up to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    Also, President Obama wanted to attack last as early as last Thursday, still does not say he is 100% certain the Syrian government is responsible. All the “evidence” he claims to have is still, in his teams words “short of confirmation.”

    • Taylor Marsh September 5, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      If you think Saudi Arabia won’t be involved behind the scenes backing Obama’s play you are woefully mistaken. There is no one whose interests against Iran matter more than the Saudis and other Arabs, who may not step out of the shadows, but will be on board.

  6. mjsmith September 5, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I wonder if President Obama gets his information from “Syria Danny”

    http://youtu.be/p-DCZxsrt9I

    This is clear evidence of the lies being told. CNN totally sucks.

  7. mjsmith September 5, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Another look at “Syria Danny” http://youtu.be/w20bX2k8qYg

    Christiane Amanpour is another fraud on CNN as well

  8. fangio September 5, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Guess John Kerry does not remember Fallujah, where the U.S. used white phosphorus weapons which burn your skin off. Nor does he wish to reflect on the depleted uranium weapons which will be around for fifty years sickening all those poor women and children. And where was the United States and Mr. Kerry when Saddam Hussain used the same weapons on the people of Halabja in 1988. Of course the U.S. has a lot of experience with weapons that burn your skin off after all those years dropping napalm on vietnam and all their women and children.

    • mjsmith September 5, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      I think UN Inspectors need to examine John Kerry’s face, I think the chemical analysis may explain all of the crap coming out of him the past two weeks. Nancy Pelosi too.

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