In an interview with the New Republic, President Barack Obama explained that military "limitations" are a reason America can't intervene in Syria.
"The last question is about Syria. I wonder if you can speak about how you personally, morally, wrestle with the ongoing violence there," former Obama campaign aide Chris Hughes asked the president.
"Every morning, I have what's called the PDB—presidential daily briefing—and our intelligence and national security teams come in here and they essentially brief me on the events of the previous day. And very rarely is there good news. And a big chunk of my day is occupied by news of war, terrorism, ethnic clashes, violence done to innocents. And what I have to constantly wrestle with is where and when can the United States intervene or act in ways that advance our national interest, advance our security, and speak to our highest ideals and sense of common humanity," said Obama.
"And as I wrestle with those decisions, I am more mindful probably than most of not only our incredible strengths and capabilities, but also our limitations. In a situation like Syria, I have to ask, can we make a difference in that situation? Would a military intervention have an impact? How would it affect our ability to support troops who are still in Afghanistan? What would be the aftermath of our involvement on the ground? Could it trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons? What offers the best prospect of a stable post-Assad regime? And how do I weigh tens of thousands who've been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?
"Those are not simple questions. And you process them as best you can. You make the decisions you think balance all these equities, and you hope that, at the end of your presidency, you can look back and say, I made more right calls than not and that I saved lives where I could, and that America, as best it could in a difficult, dangerous world, was, net, a force for good."
Commentator Jeryl Bier writes, "While I would not contend that the situation in Syria (or the Congo or Afghanistan or Libya or Iraq, for that matter) is an easy call, one of the questions the president asks himself in regard to the American military's 'limitations' has some disturbing implications."