President Obama addressed the nation on the Syria crisis on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, seeking to renew the national unity and purpose that followed on the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001.
In recent days Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have all described the difficulty in getting a war-weary American public behind the use of force in Syria.
Numerous polls taken before the Russian initiative announced Monday to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stocks showed strong majorities of Americans were against U.S. military action.
In an unscientific survey, Military.com took a different approach, asking readers whether the memory of 9/11 was influencing their opinions on the push to have Congress authorize military action to punish Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons. More than 700 responded, and more than 83 percent said no.
One reader commented that 9/11 "has no bearing on the way I feel about Syria. Much like Iraq, Syria has not directly attacked us or our allies. Until that happens, it is an internal matter for the Syrian people and should be left as such."
Obama also signed the annual "Proclamation for Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance" on the 9/11 anniversary. In his statement accompanying the proclamation, Obama did not refer directly or indirectly to the current Syria crisis, but instead recalled how Americans came together after the attacks.
"We remember the unbreakable bonds of unity we felt in the long days that followed -- how we held each other, how we came to our neighbors' aid, how we prayed for one another," Obama said.
"On September 11, 2001, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family," Obama said. "May the same be said of us today, and always."
Only twice before has Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office -- on the Gulf oil spill, and on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
In the polls, Americans have cited the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the ongoing war in Afghanistan as major factors in their opposition to the use of force in Syria.
Americans are also wary of U.S. intelligence reports on chemical weapons following the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
On Wednesday morning, Obama will attend a private ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial to honor the 189 victims of the crash into the building of American Airlines Flight 77 -- 125 inside the building and 64 passengers and crew aboard the plane.
Later in the Pentagon's courtyard, Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will address Pentagon employees on the anniversary.
In testimony last week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Syria, Hagel briefly invoked the memory of 9/11, but only after he was challenged by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., on his vote as a senator to authorize the Iraq war and his later opposition to the war.
"There is a clear, living example of how we are not insulated from the rest of the world, how things can happen to the United States in this country if we are not vigilant, and think through these things, and stay ahead of these things, and take action to prevent these things from occurring," Hagel said.
In New York City on Wednesday, the ceremonies at Ground Zero will once again feature the reading of the names of the more than 2,600 victims. As has been the case previously, no politicians or administration officials will speak -- not even Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be present for his last 9/11 anniversary in office.
|Syria War on Terrorism President Barack Obama Secretary of State John Kerry Chuck Hagel Richard Sisk|