President Obama again defended his record on Syria in remarks on Thursday, despite widespread criticism of his decision not to enforce a “red line” on the use of chemical weapons.
President Obama told a German crowd that “at least we tried” in Syria during his presidency, in defense of a record that many political observers believe was a failure.
Obama made the comments in a joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was set to meet with President Trump later on Thursday.
“I look at a place like Syria,” Obama said, “where, despite our best efforts, and this is something Angela [Merkel] and I have worked a lot, you still have a vicious war taking place, you still have millions of people displaced, hundreds of thousands killed.”
Obama then lectured the crowd on what actions the world will need to take on tough issues like Syria.
“And it is gonna require, I think, everything we can do to recognize that what happens on the other side of the world, or these other countries, whether it’s in Africa or Asia or Latin America, that it has an impact on us,” Obama said.
Obama seemed to acknowledge the criticism of his Syria policy, but defended it by claiming “at least we tried.”
“As president I did not always have the tools that I wanted to affect those kind of changes, but at least we tried. And part of the goal here is, if you try long enough, eventually what President Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature can win out.”
Obama said earlier this month that not taking military action in Syria “required the most political courage.” Obama had drawn his infamous “red line” on the use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad regime, and then failed to enforce the red line when evidence came out that Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.
In April, President Trump approved the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military airbase, after reports that Assad again used chemical weapons on his own people. It was “the first direct military action taken by the US against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s six-year civil war.”
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