By Hayes Brown on September 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm
UNITED NATIONS — President Barack Obama just concluded his fifth speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Here’s the most important parts of what he did — and didn’t — say.
1. Syria is on notice still, despite chemical weapons deal.
The first focus of Obama’s speech was the civil war in Syria. The President ran through the various ways that the ills of the Middle East as a region were embodied in the country. He lamented that aid efforts are unable to keep pace with the suffering of the Syrian people and that peace negotiations are “stillborn.” Obama also slammed the idea that “anyone other than the regime carried out” the chemical weapons attack in late August that killed thousands outside of Damascus as an “insult to human reasoning and legitimacy of the [United Nations].”
At times defensive, Obama held that only the threat of U.S. military action was able to prod Syria into showing a willingness to have its chemical weapons placed under international control. Obama called for a strong U.N. Security Council resolution to enforce the deal the U.S. had struck with Russia and consequences should Syria back out of the deal. “If we cannot agree even on this, it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing even the most basic of international laws,” he warned. “But if we succeed, will send powerful message that chemical weapons have no place in the 21st century and this body means what it says.”
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