On Tuesday, President Obama will address the nation. He will ask Americans to place their faith in his pronouncement that Syria’s civil war is a danger to the security of the United States, and that the answer is military strikes. Wrong on both counts. He will neither stem the tide of public opinion against a new war, nor will he win the coming vote in Congress — unless he boldly recasts these issues. The presidency is a bully pulpit, and if Valerie Jarrett allows the president to use the right words, he might save his remaining political capital. Those words must include “Iran” and “nuclear weapons.”
White House speechwriters know the importance of words, but they struggle under mandates from hidden hands. The word ‘war’ is out. The words ‘surgical strikes’ are in. Even Secretary of State Kerry used this newspeak on Congress with “deter and degrade,” “limited action,” and “no boots on the ground,” but then he slipped up by saying he’d consider sending in U.S. troops if chemical weapons ended up in the “wrong hands.” He did not explain whose hands those were, and no one asked. He also said the planned bombing would not be an act of war in the “classical sense.” No one asked him if the bombing of Pearl Harbor was in the classical sense.
The best efforts of the Obama administration have not convinced the majority of Americans, or the rest of the world, either. After President Obama promised a list of allied countries, a statement was released signed by Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, and Britain. It was a fig leaf that simply deplored chemical weapons and nowhere said the signatory nations approved of military strikes on Syria. In fact, the British parliament had already voted against military action.
The list of other countries that oppose military action is long. China and Russia aside, no EU nation has supported the idea. The Secretary General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon warned of “tragic consequences,” adding, “International law says that no country is allowed to take the law into their hands; they have to go to the Security Council.” Even the Pope spoke out against the planned strikes.
On Tuesday, the president can retake the initiative by telling some simple truths. First, that he will take steps to protect the United States even without approval from Congress, and that the immediate danger Americans face is the arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in Iran and its satellite, Syria. He should affirm what unbiased observers and the intelligence community know to be true: Iran and Syria manufacture and possess vast stores of chemical and biological weapons, and that Iran’s race to build nuclear weapons endangers not only the United States, but regional and world peace.
To prove his words, the president would give details of those chemical and biological weapons and show satellite photographs of depots and factories, including those of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He should then clearly describe what Iran and Syria must immediately do to avoid the destruction of their stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
The president’s speechwriters should emulate President Kennedy’s speech in 1962, on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In only seventeen minutes, Kennedy laid out his course of action, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, and concluded with: “Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right. Not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom here in this hemisphere, and we hope around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.”
As Kennedy knew in 1962, there are implied dangers in such a speech, and they must be addressed. Russia, for example, is sending warships to its base in Syria that may carry the deadly SA-300 anti-aircraft missiles for Syria’s air defense system. Bases in that system could already be manned by Russian advisors. President Obama should counsel Moscow to withdraw ships and personnel to avoid unintended losses and injuries.
Iran, deeply involved in the Syrian civil war, has threatened to destroy American assets in Baghdad, and elsewhere in the world, should Syria be attacked. Threats have even been made against the Obama children and families of cabinet secretaries in Washington. How would the Iranian terrorists get to the capitol? CBN journalist Erick Stakelbeck, in his books, The Terrorist Next Door, and The Brotherhood, tells us they are already here, human delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction living in towns across America. Though DHS does not publicize current figures, it is well known that illegal aliens other than Mexicans (OTMs) have flooded across our southern border with the help of Hezbollah, which has joined forces with drug cartels in the human traffic trade. Instead of marijuana, the OTM can carry a backpack full of anthrax, ricin, or even a nuclear “suitcase” bomb with little chance of detection. Bad news comes in small packages.
The president’s speech must tell Tehran in unambiguous language that any attack by its terror proxies, like Hezbollah and Hamas, on America will be treated as a direct attack by Iran, and will be answered by a retaliatory strategic strike on the Persian homeland.
There is no need for another debate about red lines and who drew them, or chemical weapons and who used them. Americans want a seventeen-minute speech telling them how their president will defend their homes and lives.
Chet Nagle is a Naval Academy graduate, a former CIA agent, and the author of “Iran Covenant.”