Foreign Policy Experts Urge President Obama to Respond to Assad's Chemical Attack

August 27, 2013

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Kali McNutt, FPI Director of External Affairs
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seventy-five former U.S. government officials and foreign policy experts have now signed a bipartisan open letter to President Barack Obama, urging a decisive response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's recent large-scale use of chemical weapons.  The group recommends direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime, along with accelerated efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria's internal opposition.

"Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats," the group warned in the letter.  "It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable."

The full text of the letter follows. The letter was organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a non-profit and non-partisan 501(c)3 organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the world.


August 27, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama                                               
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:
 
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has once again violated your red line, using chemical weapons to kill as many as 1,400 people in the suburbs of Damascus.  You have said that large-scale use of chemical weapons in Syria would implicate “core national interests,” including “making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies [and] our bases in the region.”  The world—including Iran, North Korea, and other potential aggressors who seek or possess weapons of mass of destruction—is now watching to see how you respond.
 
We urge you to respond decisively by imposing meaningful consequences on the Assad regime.  At a minimum, the United States, along with willing allies and partners, should use standoff weapons and airpower to target the Syrian dictatorship’s military units that were involved in the recent large-scale use of chemical weapons.  It should also provide vetted moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition with the military support required to identify and strike regime units armed with chemical weapons.
 
Moreover, the United States and other willing nations should consider direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime.  The objectives should be not only to ensure that Assad’s chemical weapons no longer threaten America, our allies in the region or the Syrian people, but also to deter or destroy the Assad regime’s airpower and other conventional military means of committing atrocities against civilian non-combatants.  At the same time, the United States should accelerate efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition, with the goal of empowering them to prevail against both the Assad regime and the growing presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated and other extremist rebel factions in the country.
 
Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats.  It is a dangerous and destabilizing message that will surely come to haunt us—one that will certainly embolden Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability despite your repeated warnings that doing so is unacceptable.  It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable.
 
Sincerely,

 Ammar AbdulhamidDr. Robert Kagan
 Elliott AbramsLawrence F. Kaplan
 Dr. Fouad AjamiJames Kirchick
 Michael AllenIrina Krasovskaya
 Dr. Michael AuslinDr. William Kristol
 Gary BauerBernard-Henri Levy
 Paul BermanDr. Robert J. Lieber
 Max BootSenator Joseph I. Lieberman
 Ellen BorkTod Lindberg
 Ambassador L. Paul BremerMary Beth Long
 Matthew R. J. BrodskyWilliam J. Luti
 Dr. Eliot A. CohenDr. Thomas G. Mahnken
 Senator Norm ColemanDr. Michael Makovsky
 Ambassador William CourtneyAnn Marlowe
 Seth CropseyClifford D. May
 James S. DentonDr. Alan Mendoza
 Paula A. DeSutterDavid A. Merkel
 Dr. Larry DiamondDr. Joshua Muravchik
 Dr. Paula J. DobrianskyAmbassador Andrew Natsios
 Thomas DonnellyGovernor Tim Pawlenty
 Dr. Michael DoranMartin Peretz
 Mark DubowitzDanielle Pletka
 Dr. Colin DueckDr. David Pollock
 Dr. Nicholas EberstadtArch Puddington
 Ambassador Eric S. EdelmanKarl Rove
 Douglas J. FeithRandy Scheunemann
 Reuel Marc GerechtDan Senor
 Abe GreenwaldAmbassador John Shattuck
 Christopher J. GriffinLee Smith
 John P. HannahHenry D. Sokolski
 Dr. Jeffrey HerfJames Traub
 Peter R. HuessyAmbassador Mark D. Wallace
 Dr. William InbodenMichael Weiss
 Bruce Pitcairn JacksonLeon Wieseltier
 Ash JainKhawla Yusuf
 Dr. Kenneth JensenRobert Zarate
 Allison JohnsonDr. Radwan Ziadeh
 Ambassador Robert G. Joseph 
   

 

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