Former President Barack Obama revealed that his August 2013 decision not to bomb Syria after a massive chemical-weapons attack near Damascus killed nearly 1,500 people “required the most political courage.”
Obama made the comments during an interview after receiving the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award last week.
Obama acknowledged in the interview that having Syria destroy its chemical weapons stock “was an imperfect solution,” because in hindsight some weapons remained. Obama added that “99% of huge chemical weapons stockpiled were removed without us having to fire a shot.”
He told interviewer Jack Schlossberg, grandson of President John F. Kennedy, “as president … you generally get praised for taking military action, and you’re often criticised for not doing so.”
Obama sought authorization from Congress in 2013 for a military response to the chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad, having previously described chemical weapons use as a “red line” that would trigger US action if crossed. Lawmakers at the time were mostly opposed to military intervention and Obama ultimately pulled back.