Blog Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

  • Obama: 'I didn't set a red line' on Syria

    Recasting his role in setting a “red line” on Syria, President Barack Obama insisted on Wednesday that Congress and the world will lose credibility if Bashar Assad’s alleged chemical weapons massacre goes unpunished.

    “My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line, and America and Congress’ credibility is on the line,” Obama said during a visit to Stockholm, Sweden.

    “I do have to ask people, well, if, in fact, you’re outraged by the slaughter of innocent people, what are you doing about it?” Obama asked. “The moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing.”

    The president rejected any notion that he needs to use military force against Syria in order to preserve his personal standing in the world after calling a chemical weapons attack a “red line” in an Aug. 20, 2012, press conference.

    “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line,” he insisted. “The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s

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  • Kerry opens door to U.S. ground troops in Syria

    Secretary of State John Kerry opened the door Tuesday to sending American troops into Syria if Bashar Assad’s regime collapses and al-Qaida-linked extremist groups stand to get their hands on his chemical weapons.

    “In the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies — and all of us, the British, the French and others to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements,” Kerry told lawmakers, “I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the president of the United States to secure our country.”

    Prodded on the issue by Sen. Bob Corker, R.-Tenn., who warned that Congress would work to ensure that President Barack Obama does not use ground troops in response to Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack, Kerry backpedaled furiously.

    “I don’t want anything coming

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  • Pelosi grandson opposes U.S. strikes in Syria

    If congressional skeptics of going to war with Syria are even half as wary as House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s 5-year-old grandson, President Barack Obama’s push for lawmakers to approve military strikes will be an uphill fight.

    Pelosi, speaking in the White House driveway after talks with Obama and other top lawmakers on Tuesday, described the child’s skepticism to reporters.

    “My 5-year-old grandson, as I was leaving San Francisco yesterday, he said to me ‘Mimi’ — that’s my name — ‘Mimi, war with Syria? Are you yes war with Syria? No war with Syria?’” she said.

    “You know he’s 5 years old, and war, he’s saying ‘war,’ I mean we’re not talking about war, we’re talking about an action,” she said.

    “’Yes war with Syria, no war with Syria?’ I said, ‘Well what do you think?’ He said, ‘I think no war,’” she related.

    “I said, ‘Well, I generally agree with that. But you know they’ve killed hundreds of children there. They’ve killed hundreds of children,’” she said.

    “And he said —

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  • Obama gambles on getting Congress to green-light war with Syria

    In a legacy-defining gamble, President Barack Obama announced Saturday that he has decided to launch military strikes against Syria — but wants the Congress to authorize them.

    “In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted,” Obama declared in the Rose Garden 10 days after Bashar Assad’s forces allegedly massacred 1,400 civilians with chemical weapons.

    “After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” he said, describing himself as “prepared to give that order.”

    The president’s hastily arranged remarks — demonstrators protesting outside the White House gates could be heard from the West Wing only minutes before he spoke — sucked the urgency out of what had looked like a imminent military strike.

    Instead, cruise missile-carrying warships off Syria’s coast will have to wait until the week of Sept. 9. That’s when Congress returns from a month-long vacation to take up a measure, drafted by the White

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  • Obama aides to brief Senators on Saturday, House members Sunday as Syria strike looms

    With the United States edging closer to a possible military strike on Syria, President Barack Obama on Saturday ramped up efforts to convince skeptical American lawmakers and wary international partners of the need to act.

    Obama’s top national security aides planned to hold the first of two days of weekend briefings for Congress. And the president and top aides were expected to continue consultations with foreign allies.

    Senate Republicans and Democrats were to get separate briefings on Saturday. House members of both parties received an invitation to attend a members-only classified briefing at 2 p.m. ET Sunday.

    It was not clear what the weekend sessions meant for the timing of a possible attack. Obama has signaled that he does not think he needs explicit congressional authorization to make war on Bashar Assad’s regime — but it seemed somewhat unlikely that the president would pull the trigger before the Sunday briefing.

    National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State John

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  • Frustrated Obama: I won't be ‘paralyzed’ on Syria

    President Barack Obama vowed Friday to undertake a “limited, narrow” response to Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack and warned he would not be “paralyzed” by his desire to rally elusive international support.

    Obama’s remarks came after Secretary of State John Kerry laid out the most detailed U.S. case yet that Bashar Assad’s regime massacred more than 1,400 people last week with chemical weapons.

    “We are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act,” the president said as he hosted Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House.

    “I have not made any decisions” about Washington’s precise response, he said, but “we’re not considering any open-ended commitment” or sending troops into Syria.

    Obama said in a CNN interview last week that ordering military action without a United Nations mandate would raise questions about whether such an operation were legal.

    And a growing chorus of lawmakers is saying that the president needs to get explicit congressional authorization

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  • Kerry: U.S. has proof Assad guilty of 'crime against humanity'

    (Source: US government)

    Secretary of State John Kerry argued Friday that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad was guilty of a “crime against humanity” as he built the most detailed U.S. case yet that the Damascus regime unleashed a devastating chemical weapons attack on its own people last week.

    Amid talk of looming U.S. military strikes that could happen at any time, Kerry vowed that the United States reserved the right to act alone if necessary and warned the war-weary American public that the time for dithering is past.

    “We know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am too,” he said. “But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about. And history will judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye."

    President Barack Obama, speaking at the White House shortly after Kerry’s remarks, said he had not yet made a decision but was weighing a “limited, narrow act.”

    "We're not considering any

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  • Syria coalition: US, France, but no Britain? Not really a surprise

    Some very smart people are saying some very silly things about the prospect that France could be the only major U.S. ally likely to support military strikes against Syria — expressing shock and surprise that Paris, not London, might be Washington’s key partner.

    Yes, it was a bit of a shock to see Britain’s Parliament reject Prime Minister David Cameron’s call to authorize, in theory, a U.K. role in any U.S.-led air assault.

    But a Franco-U.S. partnership against Damascus isn’t only logical, it’s rooted in history. Very, very recent history.

    In 2005, only two years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq — and France’s opposition to that campaign drove bilateral relations to their worst level in decades — then-Presidents George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac partnered to help push Syrian forces out of Lebanon.

    Remember: Things had been so bad over Iraq that the House of Representatives renamed French fries “Freedom Fries” (a move met by amusement in France, where fries are considered a Belgian

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  • U.S. ready to go it alone on Syria after stinging British defeat

    The United States reserves the option to go it alone on a possible military strike against Syria, the White House signaled late Thursday, after Britain’s parliament rejected going to war.

    “As we’ve said, President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable.”

    The statement came after Britain’s Parliament dealt Prime Minister David Cameron a stinging defeat, beating back a measure that could have set the stage for London to join Washington in military action against Syria.

    "It is very clear tonight that while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action,” Cameron

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  • U.S. spying blind spots: Pakistan nukes, North Korea

    America stands to spend $52.6 billion this year on an intelligence community that includes 107,035 employees — and can’t say whether Pakistan’s nuclear program is secure or what North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un is up to.

    Those are some of the stark findings in a new Washington Post report that provides an unprecedented look inside the vast and growing "black budget" of the nation’s spy agencies, as well as some of their troubling blind spots.

    The report, based on information leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, also provides new details about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

    The Post says the intelligence community has five “critical” blind spots:

    1. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons: America’s spies aren’t sure whether Pakistan's nuclear components are secure when they are being transported.

    2. North Korea: The United States “has all but surrounded the nuclear-armed country with surveillance platforms,” the Post reports. That includes ground sensors to

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