WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned that the use of chemical weapons in Syria could directly threat the United States.
Speaking at the New America Foundation Monday, Rice said that the weapons that Syrian President Bashar Assad regime’s control could fall into the hands of terrorists.
“That prospect puts Americans at risk for chemical attacks … even potentially our citizens at home,” Rice said.
Rice said not acting against Assad for using chemical weapons last month “could compel the Arab Spring towards a more ominous and ever-darker turn.”
“Failing to respond increases the risk of violence and instability as citizens across the Mideast and North Africa continue to struggle for their universal rights,” Rice said.
President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to authorize a limited military strike against Syria after he said more than 1,400 people were killed, including hundreds of children, in an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack.
“They unleashed hellish chaos and terror on a massive scale,” Rice said.
Rice cautioned skeptical congressional lawmakers that rejecting a limited strike against Assad’s regime would raise questions across the globe as to whether the U.S. had the power to stop such atrocities.
“America’s ability to rally coalitions to lead internationally could be undermined,” Rice warned.
Obama’s national security adviser took a swipe at Russia and China, calling them “shameless” for voting against “meaningless resolutions” directed at the Syrian violence in the United Nations Security Council.
Rice invoked former President Ronald Reagan’s limited military strikes on Libya in 1986 in an effort to show that the United States will not get involved in an open-ended war.
“This would not be the United States launching another war. As the president has said repeatedly, this would not be Iraq or Afghanistan,” Rice said. “There would be no American boots on the ground, period.”
Rice reiterated that the only way to end the conflict in Syria would be through negotiations from the Assad camp and the Syrian opposition.
In an interview with CBS News, Assad said there would be “repercussions” and that “you should expect everything” if the U.S. launched a strike on Syria. Rice called that “foolish.”
“Assad and his allies would be more than foolish to take on the United States or our allies,” Rice said.
Obama is facing an uphill battle garnering support from Congress to authorize a military strike on Syria. In an effort to get lawmakers and the public behind his cause, Obama will address the nation Tuesday night as to why the U.S. should launch a limited strike against Syria.