WASHINGTON – President Obama tried Friday to assure a war-fatigued American public that his response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria would be a "limited, narrow act" and not the beginning of another extended conflict in the Middle East.
"We're not considering any open-ended commitment. We're not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach," Obama said in brief comments on Friday.
Obama said he had not decided how he would respond, although his administration has acknowledged it is considering missile strikes to send a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Obama made the comments before holding a meeting with Baltic leaders in the Oval Office. He spoke shortly after the White House released an intelligence report stating the U.S. government had "high confidence" that the Assad government had launched rockets loaded with a nerve agent on the Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21. The report said 1,429 people were killed, including 426 children.
The White House and intelligence officials have briefed lawmakers on the findings, but aides have suggested Obama does not intend to ask Congress to authorize use of force.
On Thursday, the British Parliament voted not to participate in such a mission, dealing a major blow to Obama's attempt to assemble a coalition.
"We have consulted with allies. We have consulted with Congress," Obama said Friday, adding that he did not want the world to be "paralyzed."
"There is a certain weariness, given Afghanistan. There is a certain suspicion of any military action post-Iraq. And I very much appreciate that," he said. "It's important for us to recognize that when over a thousand people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99% of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we're sending a signal… That is a danger to our national security."