Transcript: National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s remarks on Syria on Sept. 9, 2013 – Part I

Part I: Partial transcript of remarks by National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Syria at the New America Foundation on Sept. 9, 2013:

…In response to Bashar al-Assad’s barbaric use of chemical weapons against the Syria people, President Obama after careful consideration has decided that it’s in the national security interest of the United States to conduct limited military strikes against the Syrian regime.

President Obama has asked Congress for its support in this action because in a democracy, our policies are stronger, more effective and more sustainable when they have the support of the American people and their elected leaders.

Tomorrow evening, the President will address the nation and make his case for taking action.

Today, I want to take this opportunity to explain why Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a serious threat to our national security and why it is in our national interest to undertake limited military action to deter future use.

There’s no denying what happened on Aug. 21st. Around 2:30 a.m., while most of Damascus was still asleep, Assad’s forces loaded warheads filled with deadly chemicals onto rockets and launched them into suburbs controlled or contested by opposition forces.

They unleashed hellish chaos and terror on a massive scale. Innocent civilians were jolted awake, choking on poison. Some never woke up at all.

In the end, more than 1,400 were dead, more than 400 of them were children.

In recent days, we’ve been shocked by the videos in Ghouta and other neighborhoods near Damascus.

As a parent, I cannot look at those pictures – those little children laying on the ground, their eyes glassy, their bodies twitching – and not think of my own two kids. I can only imagine the agony of those parents in Damascus.

Sarin is odorless and colorless so victims may not even know they’ve been exposed until it’s too late. Sarin targets the body’s central nervous system, making every breath a struggle and causing foaming at the nose and mouth, intense nausea, and uncontrollable convulsions.

The death of any innocent in Syria or around the world is a tragedy, whether by bullet or land mine or poisonous gas. But chemical weapons are different; they are wholly indiscriminate. Gas plumes shift and spread without warning. The masses of people they can fell are immense. The torturous death they bring is unconscionable.

Chemical weapons, like other weapons of mass destruction, kill on a scope and scale that is entirely different. from conventional weapons. Opening the door to their use anywhere threatens the United States and our personnel everywhere.

There’s no doubt about who is responsible for this attack. The Syrian regime possesses one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world.

Assad has been struggling to clear these very neighborhoods in Damascus and drive out the opposition but his conventional arsenal was not working well enough or fast enough.

Only the Syrian regime has the capacity to deliver chemical weapons on a scale to cause the devastation we saw in Damascus. The opposition does not.

The rockets were fired from territory controlled by the regime. The rockets landed in territory controlled or contested by the opposition.

And the intelligence we’ve gathered reveals senior officials planning the attack and then afterwards plotting to cover up the evidence by destroying the area with shelling.

Of course, this is not the first time that Assad has used chemical weapons in this conflict. We assessed that he has used them in a small scale multiple times since March.

But Aug. 21st was very different. Whereas previous attacks each killed relatively few people, this one murdered well over a thousand in one fell swoop.

Assad is lowering his threshold for use while increasing exponentially the lethality of his attacks.

Assad’s escalating use of chemical weapons threatens the national security of the United States, and the likelihood that left unchecked Assad will continue to use these weapons again and again takes the Syrian conflict to an entirely different level.

By terrorizing civilians, creating even greater refugee flows, and raising the risk that deadly chemicals would spill across borders into neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

And obviously the use of chemical weapons also directly threatens our closest ally in the region, Israel, where people once again have readied gas masks.

Every time chemical weapons are moved, unloaded and used on the battlefield, it raises the likelihood that these weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists active in Syria, including Assad’s ally, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda affiliates. That prospect puts Americans at risk of chemical attacks targeted at our soldiers and diplomats in the region and even potentially our citizens at home.

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4 Comments on “Transcript: National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s remarks on Syria on Sept. 9, 2013 – Part I

  1. Pingback: Syria: Chemical Weapons | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Transcript: National Security Advisor Susan Rice's remarks on Syria on Sept. 9, 2013 - Part III | What The Folly?!

  3. Pingback: Transcript: National Security Advisor Susan Rice's remarks on Syria on Sept. 9, 2013 - Part IV | What The Folly?!

  4. Pingback: Transcript: National Security Advisor Susan Rice's remarks on Syria on Sept. 9, 2013 - Part II | What The Folly?!

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