Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter warned the U.S. not to launch an attack on Syria without waiting for the results of a U.N. investigation or Security Council mandate on Friday, calling for international consensus.
“It is imperative to determine the facts of the attack and present them to the public. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must bear personal responsibility,” said Carter in a statement released by the Carter Center. “The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution.”
The center’s statement preemptively condemned a U.S. response to the most recent chemical weapons attack that left 1,200 Damascans dead. Retaliation would only spark more violence, the center said.
“It will only harden existing positions and postpone a sorely needed political process to put an end to the catastrophic violence. Instead, all should seek to leverage the consensus among the entire international community, including Russia and Iran, condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria and bringing under U.N. oversight the country’s stockpile of such weapons,” their statement read.
President Obama’s other predecessors differ on which actions to take against Syria. Former Republican president George W. Bush said Obama has a “tough choice” on Syria, but declined to give any specifics.
Former Democratic president Bill Clinton, however, goaded Obama in a semi-private press event on Monday, saying he would look like a “total wuss” if he held back on bombing Syria if Congress didn’t approve.
“You just think how lame you’d be,” Clinton said. “Suppose I had let a million people, two million people be refugees out of Kosovo, a couple hundred thousand people die, and they say, ‘You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?’ And I say, ‘because the House of Representatives voted 75 percent against it?’ You look like a total wuss, and you would be.”
Back in 2012, Obama said at a press conference that use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” that might prompt his administration to take action.
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” Obama said. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”