last night I had the bizarre pleasure to see your speech about Syria and since then I feel the urgent need to respond to it.Thanks to the Washington Post for providing a transcript of your speach so that I can easily refer to it. I write this in English, even knowing that the chance that you read it will be very little.
Well, for the last several days, President Obama and his entire national security team have been reviewing the situation in Syria.
If you start with that let me ask you what impact does the situation in Syria have on the national security of the US? Why do you have to put your fingers into affairs that are happening far away from the US?
And today, I want to provide an update on our efforts as we consider our response to the use of chemical weapons. What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.
Good that you added „by chemical weapons“. Nevertheless I have to ask you what about the women and children and innocent bystanders that are killed during drone strikes in Pakistan for example. They are dead as well, but it looks like its not a moral obscenity to kill them since you are using just explosives instead of chemical weapons.
By any standard, it is inexcusable and — despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured — it is undeniable.
Yes, its undeniable like if I find someone with a bullet in the head I can’t deny that he is shot. But it doesn’t give me any clue who has shot him.
The meaning of this attack goes beyond the conflict in Syria itself, and that conflict has already brought so much terrible suffering.
People always suffer during wars. And you should know that, looking at the facts that the United States have a long „tradition“ in warfare.
This is about the large-scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else.
What civilized world are you talking about? The one in which millions of people suffer for the profits of a few? Or the one in which people are killed based on signature patterns without putting them to court before executing their death penalty?
There is a clear reason that the world has banned entirely the use of chemical weapons. There is a reason the international community has set a clear standard and why many countries have taken major steps to eradicate these weapons. There is a reason why President Obama has made it such a priority to stop the proliferation of these
weapons and lock them down where they do exist. There is a reason why President Obama has made clear to the Assad regime that this international norm cannot be violated without consequences.
So you blame the attacks on Assad. Can you provide hard evidence for
that? Evidence that would convince an independent court?
And there is a reason why, no matter what you believe about Syria, all peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again.
Yes. Whoever committed that crime of war should face justice. But as long as you can’t prove someone guilty he has to be considered as innocent. „In dubio pro reo“ is one of the fundamental rules of our civilizaton and at the moment there are way too many doubts to
blame this attack to the Syrian government.
Last night, after speaking with foreign ministers from around the world about the gravity of this situation, I went back and I watched the videos, the videos that anybody can watch in the social media, and I watched them one more gut-wrenching time. It is really hard to express in words the human suffering that they lay out before us.
Honestly I didn’t watch those videos for two reasons. First I have no evidence that they will show me all the truth (which is of course dying first in any war) and second I want to
to keep an emotional distance when I have to analyze the situation. Anger and wrath are never good advocates when you have to make decisions.
As a father, I can’t get the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child, wailing, while chaos swirled around him, the images of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of blood or even a visible wound, bodies contorting in spasms, human suffering that we can never ignore or forget.
I’m a father too and yes, my heart is with every other parent that loses his child. But I also believe that suffering doesn’t scale, and on a very cynical point of view that man that lost his child because of chemical weapons has at least something that he can bury in a grave while those whose childs are killed by drone attacks sometimes don’t even have that. To be clear, if you are using the image of a mourning father as a reason to go to war without having other hard evidence about the guilt of the person you blame it on then you
are a damned liar and you are abusing that dead child again.
Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass. What is before us today is real, and it is compelling.
Yes it is compelling. And when you quote the moral compass then you should be aware, that deciding to go to war always means that more innocent people will die. Do you have an idea how many people died in Iraq because the US started a war based on the lie that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction? You can ask Colin Powell about that.
So I also want to underscore that while investigators are gathering additional evidence on the ground, our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience, and guided by common sense.
So you claim to have facts. Can you show them to the public or do we need for another whistleblower to expose them? If you call for common sense then I really wonder what your definition of that is. My common sense makes me hardly believe that Assad would be so stupid to commit such a crime under the eyes of the U.N. investigators. There is nothing for him to win but everything to lose. So you really wantto tell my that he’s such a crazy idiot that he doesn’t care about his options?
The reported number of victims, the reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, the firsthand accounts from humanitarian organizations on the ground, like Doctors Without Borders and the Syria Human Rights Commission, these all strongly indicate that everything these images are already screaming at us is real, that chemical weapons were used in Syria.
Again as I told you above, finding out the reason why someone is dead doesn’t automatically show me who killed him.
Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took
place. And with our own eyes, we have all of us become witnesses.
You know? Really know? Or just pretend? Sorry Mr. Kerry, I still have the vision of US officials that told the world they know that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. Weapons that nobody ever found.
We have additional information about this attack, and that
information is being compiled and reviewed together with our partners, and we will provide that information in the days ahead.
Being a software engineer I associate the word „to compile“ with building up something, so my fear is that the US will come up with a compilation of things that makes going to war reasonable while the compiler optimized away all doubts. It wouldn’t be the first time in history that such things happen, just remember the war in Vietnam that started with biased facts about what happened in the gulf of Tonkin.
Our sense of basic humanity is offended not only by this cowardly crime, but also by the cynical attempt to cover it up.
So how is your sense of basic humanity feeling about the cowardly crimes committed by US soldiers? How do you feel when watching „collateral murder“ or when you think about those drone pilots that don’t even face the slightes danger to get hurt in their asymmetric
conflict? Killing people from remote without facing the possibility of violent response is not very heroic.
At every turn, the Syrian regime has failed to cooperate with the U.N. investigation, using it only to stall and to stymie the important effort to bring to light what happened in Damascus in the dead of night. And as Ban Ki-moon said last week, the U.N. investigation will not determine who used these chemical weapons, only whether such weapons were used, a judgment that is already clear to the world.
Pardon me about that. So the inability of tue U.N. investigation to determine who used chemical weapons in Syria is proving that Assad has to take the blame? What drugs are you taking to come to such a conclusion?
I spoke on Thursday with Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem, and I made it very clear to him that if the regime, as he argued, had nothing to hide, then their response should be immediate, immediate transparency, immediate access, not shelling. Their response needed to be unrestricted and immediate access. Failure to permit that, I told him, would tell its own story.
Sorry if I laugh at that one, but after what Edward Snowden has told the world about the NSA activities worldwide it seems like a bad joke if US officials call for transparency. The world is still wating for you to be transparent in your spying against it.
Instead, for five days, the Syrian regime refused to allow the U.N. investigators access to the site of the attack that would allegedly exonerate them. Instead, it attacked the area further, shelling it and systemically destroying evidence. That is not the behavior of a government that has nothing to hide. That is not the action of a regime eager to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons.
Why should they need to prove that they had not used the weapons. Is it not up to the world to prove that they had? Your statement is negating the „presumption of innocence“ and I bet you know that already.
And as far as „a government that has nothing to hide“ is concerned I think that sending a whistleblower to jail for 35 years gives me a good impresion about what the US government has to hide.
Nevertheless you didn’t give them any chance to explain their behaviour. You are using the behaviour as a reason to prove them guilty and to consider to attack them. That is not much different from other „signature attacks“ that the US is doing.
In fact, the regime’s belated decision to allow access is too late, and it’s too late to be credible. Today’s reports of an attack on the U.N. investigators — together with the continued shelling of these very neighborhoods — only further weakens the regime’s credibility.
So can you show the world the evidence that the U.N. investigators are attacked by the Syrian government troops? Or do you first have to „compile“ it?
At President Obama’s direction, I’ve spent many hours over the last few days on the phone with foreign ministers and other leaders. The administration is actively consulting with members of Congress, and we will continue to have these conversations in the days ahead. President Obama has also been in close touch with leaders of our key allies, and the president will be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.
Sounds legit, but I really wonder if that decision is also depending on the fact that Syria has oil ressources. Would your reaction be the same if Syria was just a desert without any ressources?
But make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny.
Seeing the excessive use of so many superlatives in one statement makes it look a bit like propaganda, don’t you think so?
So you are preparing to go to war, aren’t you? I really hope that you are aware, that more innocent people will die. Take the war in Iraq as an example in which hundredthousands of civilians died for a lie that the US government has made up to start that war.
I know I can’t stop the United States, but being an European citizen I was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 and so I see it as my duty to at least write down my concerns. And last not least I owe it to my kids to stand up against war because they should once live on a planet that has learned from the mistakes of the past instead
of repeating them endlessly.
Thank you for your attention.