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The President: My fellow Americans,
tonight 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 peaceful 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.
In that time, America has worked with allies
to provide humanitarian support,
to help the moderate opposition,
and to shape a 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, though, on August 21st,
when Assad's government gassed to death over a thousand people,
including hundreds of children.
The images from this massacre are sickening: Men, women,
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.
In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands
killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe.
In World War II, the Nazis used gas
to inflict the horror of 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.
And in 1997, the United States Senate
overwhelmingly approved an international agreement
prohibiting the use of chemical weapons,
now joined by 189 governments
that represent 98 percent of humanity.
On August 21st, these basic rules were violated,
along with our sense of common 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,
and humanitarian organizations told stories of hospitals
packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas.
Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible.
In the days leading up to August 21st,
we know that Assad's chemical weapons personnel prepared
for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas.
They distributed gasmasks to their troops.
Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area
into 11 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 in Assad's military machine
reviewed the results of the attack,
and the regime increased their shelling
of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed.
We've also 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 those horrifying pictures fade from memory.
But these things happened.
The facts cannot be denied.
The question now is what the United States of America,
and the international community, is prepared to do about it.
Because what happened to those people --
to those children --
is not only a violation of international law,
it's 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.
As the ban against these weapons erodes,
other tyrants will have no reason to think twice
about acquiring poison gas, and using them.
Over time, our troops would again face the prospect
of chemical warfare on the battlefield.
And it could be easier for terrorist organizations
to obtain these weapons,
and to use them to attack civilians.
If fighting spills beyond Syria's borders,
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 destruction,
and embolden Assad's ally, 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 accept.
This is what's at stake.
And that is why, after careful deliberation,
I determined that it is in the national security interests
of the United States to respond to the Assad regime's use
of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.
The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using
chemical weapons, to degrade his regime's ability to use them,
and to make clear to the world
that we will not tolerate their use.
That's my judgment as Commander-in-Chief.
But I'm also the President of the world's
oldest constitutional democracy.
So 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.
I believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts
with the support of Congress.
And I believe that America acts more effectively abroad
when we stand together.
This is especially true after a decade that put more and more
war-making power in the hands of the President,
and more and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops,
while sidelining the people's representatives
from the critical decisions about when we use force.
Now, 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.
After all, I've spent four and a half years
working to end wars, not to start them.
Our troops are out of Iraq.
Our troops are coming home from Afghanistan.
And 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's no wonder, then, that you're asking hard questions.
So let me answer some of the most important questions
that I've heard from members of Congress,
and that I've read in letters that you've 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."
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 an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan.
I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign
like Libya or Kosovo.
This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective:
deterring the use of chemical weapons,
and degrading Assad's capabilities.
Others have asked whether it's worth acting
if we don't take out Assad.
As some members of Congress have said,
there's no point in simply doing a "pinprick" strike in Syria.
Let me make something clear:
The United States military doesn't do pinpricks.
Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad
that no other nation can deliver.
I don't think we should remove another dictator 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 dictator,
think twice before using chemical weapons.
Other questions involve the dangers of retaliation.
We don't dismiss any threats, but the Assad regime does not
have the ability to seriously threaten our military.
Any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats
that we face every day.
Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation
that would lead to his demise.
And our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force,
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's so complicated,
and where -- as one person wrote to me --
"those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?"
It's true that some of Assad's opponents are extremists.
But al Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria
if people there see the world 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 freedom.
And 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.
Finally, many of you have asked:
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.
However, over the last few days,
we've seen some encouraging signs.
In part because of the credible threat
of U.S. military action,
as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin,
the Russian government has indicated a willingness
to join with the international community in pushing Assad
to give up his chemical weapons.
The Assad regime has now admitted
that it has these weapons,
and even said they'd join the Chemical Weapons Convention,
which prohibits their use.
It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed,
and 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'm sending Secretary of State John Kerry
to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday,
and 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, and we will work together
in consultation with Russia and China to put forward
a resolution at the U.N. Security Council
requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons,
and to ultimately destroy them under international control.
We'll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity
to report their findings about what happened on August 21st.
And we will continue to rally support from allies
from Europe to the Americas --
from Asia to the Middle East --
who agree on the need for action.
Meanwhile, I've ordered our military
to maintain their current posture
to keep the pressure on Assad,
and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.
And tonight, I give thanks again
to 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 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.
And so, to my friends on the right,
I ask you to reconcile your commitment
to Ameria's military might
with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just.
To my friends on the left,
I ask you to reconcile your belief
in freedom and dignity for all people
with those images of children writhing in pain,
and going still on a cold hospital floor.
For sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation
are simply not enough.
Indeed, I'd 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?
Franklin Roosevelt once said, "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."
Our 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 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's what makes America different.
That's what makes us exceptional.
With 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.


美國總統歐巴馬針對敘利亞議題發表全國演說(President Obama Addresses the Nation on Syria)

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Solomon Wolf 發佈於 2013 年 9 月 12 日    Zoan 翻譯    彭彥婷 審核
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