In a briefing with the press, deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said that any military strike on Syria would be a response to chemical weapons--and would "not [intend] to resolve the underlying political crisis within Syria." Instead, "the underlying political crisis within Syria" would be dealt with diplomatically, he said.
As for the President, he once again underscored the very high confidence that we have that the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on August 21st. He reinforced the importance of upholding international norms to which all of the nations here are party to through the Chemical Weapons Convention. He noted the importance of continuing to work through the U.N., but also the paralysis that has existed in the Security Council on the issue of Syria, and therefore, underscored the importance of ensuring that there is enforcement of a norm that is so fundamental to global peace and security.
Beyond that, there was also discussion on the importance of a broader political resolution to the challenge in Syria through the Geneva II process. As we've said repeatedly, our military action is limited and focused on the issue of chemical weapons; it is not intended to resolve the underlying political crisis within Syria. That is an issue that we seek to address through the Geneva II track. And so the President was able to reinforce that message again last night.
Interestingly, the release of this transcript coincides with the relase of this New York Times report, which claims that "President Barack Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence suggesting that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons while Congress debates whether to authorize military action."