White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice made an emotional plea for a Syria intervention during a speech to the New America Foundation on Monday, calling on the public to watch video clips of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on civilians.
The Obama administration estimates that over 1,400 were killed in the chemical weapon attack on an opposition-controlled suburb of Damascus, a death toll that includes over 400 children.
The CIA has authenticated 13 graphic video recordings of the indiscriminate massacre, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
“Every adult American, every member of Congress should watch those videos for themselves,” said Rice. “See that suffering. Look at the eyes of those men and women, those babies, and dare to turn away and forsake them.”
Rice asked Congress to approve President Barack Obama’s request for military authorization in Syria, arguing that the United States has a moral and security obligation to intervene.
“Make no mistake, the decision our nation makes in the coming days is being watched in capitals around the world, especially in Tehran and Pyongyang,” said Rice. “They’re watching to see if the United States will stand up.”
“If we fail to act, they will be emboldened to push harder for the world that only they want,” Rice continued. “A future where the world’s most dangerous weapons fall into the world’s most dangerous hands.”
Republican and Democratic House leadership have come out in support of the military authorization, but there has also been reluctance to approve from both the hawkish and non-interventionist camps in Congress.
The Washington Post reports that currently 238 House members are “no” or “leaning no” on the authorization, 21 more than needed to kill the authorization in the House. It narrowly passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.
Non-interventionists have argued that the military strike on Syria is unnecessary, while some hawks say the administration’s intervention proposal is too limited to be effective.
Secretary of State John Kerry fed into the latter concern on Monday by promising that any U.S. strike would be “unbelievably small.”
However, Rice argued that failing to act in Syria, even in a limited capacity, could be detrimental to American interests abroad and encourage bad actors such as Iran.
“Rejecting the limited military action that President Obama strongly supports would raise questions around the world as to whether the United States is fully prepared to deploy the full range of its power to defend our national interests,” said Rice.
Rice did not take questions after the speech.
Obama is expected to address the nation about his Syria plans on Tuesday.