Obama’s Case for Action Against Assad Comes Down to Just One Thing

Assad, the president says, used chemical weapons to kill his own people, and we can’t let him get away with it.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Sept. 10, 2013, 6:45 p.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama’s ad­dress to the na­tion on Syr­ia Tues­day night comes on the heels of a long day full of de­vel­op­ments that are quickly chan­ging the con­ver­sa­tion. The Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment has agreed to give up its chem­ic­al weapons stock­pile. The United States, along with France and the United King­dom, has be­gun a game of tug-of-war with Rus­sia on draft­ing a U.N. res­ol­u­tion to get those weapons. The vote be­fore Con­gress to au­thor­ize the use of U.S. force in Syr­ia has been delayed.

But as this word cloud of the pres­id­ent’s speech shows, Obama won’t let the Amer­ic­an people, Con­gress, or the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity for­get what’s really at the heart of the situ­ation: Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad, he says, used chem­ic­al weapons to kill his own people, and we can’t let him get away with it.

By far, the most-of­ten used word in the pres­id­ent’s speech from the East Room was “weapons,” fol­lowed closely by “chem­ic­al,” “As­sad,” and “mil­it­ary.” Oth­er fre­quently used words in­clude “chil­dren” and “people,” which the pres­id­ent used of­ten in his ap­peals to hu­man­ity. Obama has left the door open for a po­ten­tial dip­lo­mat­ic res­ol­u­tion in Syr­ia, but he hasn’t turned his back on us­ing mil­it­ary force if the plan to des­troy the coun­try’s chem­ic­al weapons falls through.