Here is a quick recap of what New Hampshire observers had to say about Obama's speech. The majority of those who responded to our query were Republicans. Add your thoughts in the comments field below:
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a serious threat to our national security and I am hopeful that a diplomatic solution can be reached to secure and destroy their chemical weapons stockpile. I’m working with my colleagues in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on an amendment to give diplomacy a chance to work, but to also pressure the Syrians to take concrete steps towards the transfer of their chemical weapons to international control. I continue to believe that the eventual elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles is in our best interest but also understand that it was the threat of force that ultimately pushed Syria and Russia to the negotiating table. Now, we need immediate, serious and credible action from Russia and Syria. They must begin to secure and eventually destroy Syria’s weapons of mass destruction as soon as possible.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) - via Twitter: POTUS gave impt speech tonight & I'll continue to ask tough Qs to ensure US is acting in our national security interests. Am skeptical of Putin & Assad's credibility & the UN's ability to achieve this type of outcome. But getting the Assad regime to turn over chemical weapons to intl community w/ verification would make the world safer.
U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH): While the Assad regime must be held accountable for its deplorable use of chemical weapons against its own people, I continue to have very grave concerns about the unintended consequences of U.S. military intervention in the region. We should aggressively pursue a diplomatic solution that will lead to the containment and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles. I am pleased that the President shares that view, and am hopeful that a diplomatic resolution can be reached in the near future. As the situation continues to evolve, I will closely monitor new developments and maintain an open dialogue with my constituents.
U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH): I greatly appreciate President Obama speaking directly to the American people about the situation in Syria. I share President Obama’s horror at the use of chemical weapons on innocent people, but I do not share his belief that military air strikes are the answer to the crisis in Syria. I remain concerned that a military strike could lead to more chaos and regional instability. And I still do not believe that the tragedy in Syria represents an imminent threat to our national security. I applaud the President for pursuing a diplomatic solution to this crisis before taking military action, and I continue to be optimistic that this situation can be resolved through a negotiated political agreement. I stand with President Obama in calling on Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, cease production of chemical weapons, and begin turning over its chemical weapons stockpile to the international community immediately.
Bedford resident Jane Aitken of the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition: Obama is a pathological liar who doesn't mind using "children" to make his case. He's already lost the war of information on this situation. There has been too much knowledge coming directly from numerous sources that makes him look like a total scoundrel for being so willing to try to dupe the American people for whatever his end game is. But the people will not be duped. The fact that 92% of the American public are no longer falling for these manufactured events and imported revolutions as a catalyst for some sort of action on the part of government means that alternative media has triumphed.
Former State Senator and possible GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens: The Russian-Syrian disarmament offer demonstrates the power of peaceful diplomacy. There is no credible threat motivating the Russians because the US Constitution requires Congressional approval for war and that approval was clearly not forthcoming. Senator Shaheen was wrong when she voted for the bombing war and she continues to be wrong in supporting war if Russia's move turns out to be a delay tactic. The Shaheen bombing war would degrade US national security, kill and maim more innocent women and children, increase instability and sectarian killings, and suck America into another military quagmire without an endgame. Fully equipped regional powers such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, which have direct domestic security interests in Syria, should be asked to shoulder the burdens of any necessary military action.
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Kennedy of Danbury: "Soft Power" course/diplomatic solution is the way to go with "Hard Power"/military action option on the table... the way to keep Assad honest!
Kristi St. Laurent, chair of the Windham Democratic Town Committee: The President took a measured but tough stand against the decision by Syrian government to use chemical weapons against its own people, and made his decision clear when others were indecisive. Tonight President Obama made it clear why he felt a measured military response is called for, and why no response is unacceptable. I am glad that he is open to the new diplomatic options that are being formulated now with Russia and Syria because I do not support a military response. However, I believe that the, “turn over your chemical weapons or else” option carries more weight because our President has shown that he is willing to back up those words. I am praying for the diplomatic solution to work, and I have to wonder if it was the President’s plan all along to show his resolve to precipitate a diplomatic solution proctored by one of Syria’s allies.Conservative blogger William Smith of Merrimack: It's amazing that this President can manage to try and take credit for what Russia has done. Putin exercised diplomacy and took control of the situation–and he didn't even have a Nobel Peace Prize. Obama and Kerry failed miserably and have egg on their faces. What an embarrassment.
Former Democratic State Sen. Mark Fernald of Sharon: I thought his speech was right on. We are not the world's policeman, we can't fix every wrong in the world, but there are times when we can make a difference. This is one of those times. We should act because it is in our interest and in the world's interest. The threat of force has already brought Syria and Russia part way around. We all hope diplomacy will work, but the use of force must remain an option to deter future chemical attacks by Syria.
Former Republican State Rep. Fran Wendelboe: I am not surprised he is not backing down on his arguments for attack of Syria for him to appear relevant. Putin has made Obama a farce. He would not have gotten the vote in either body had it been held this week. That is why they pulled back BEFORE Putin and Assad jumped on Kerry’s off the cuff rambling about Syria giving up their chemical weapons. So Russia now is the peace keeper, and Obama is still beating his chest with a lists of reasons why we must do something in Syria. His point by point rebuttal of the concerns that most Americans have clearly indicates he still wants to posture that he would support attack. I know gas is terrible, but when you talk about 100,000 killed in Syria in the last two years and that 1,000 killed by gas is the line in the sand because gas is so horrible, isn’t being pulverized by a bomb, butchered or shot up pretty horrible too? And why doesn’t England and France and all those other countries who signed the chemical weapons ban willing to line up with us? Congressional support has been dropping as the days go by and it sure doesn’t seem any other countries are reconsidering. Kerry gave Putin an opening to come off as the peace maker and Obama looks like a bumbling fool. All he can do is keep talking about how evil they were to have used gas. We push off discussion on Benghazi where four Americans were slaughtered but we want to JUMP on Syria where no Americans have died…yet. President Obama’s statement tonight that Syria lacks the capability to attack us back and that Al Qaeda will be stronger if we don’t attack then if we do just doesn’t make Americans feel warm and fuzzy. Poking a hornet’s nest is never a good idea, especially when you don’t know which way the wind is blowing. If Putin wanted to play hardball, he would say thanks USA, you don’t need to be in on these talks, we’ll work it out, got it all covered. And what could Obama do but feel impotent? His Congress was going to vote NO, and the American people have been voting NO if you can believe the polls. Not a shining moment in American history.
Former Democratic Congressional candidate Matthew Hancock of Portsmouth: I support limited tactical strikes in the absence of international enforcement of norms. The President reaffirmed his commitment to upholding these norms and voiced America’s vital role as not the world police, but a key moral leader throughout the world with clear limits on acceptable actions by foreign governments. While maintaining America’s strong position by keeping tactical strikes on the table, the President made clear that a diplomatic solution with Syria no longer having access to chemical weapons is the optimal solution. I agree with his plan to wait until that path is exhausted before moving forward with military action. I am comforted by and thankful for the President’s strength and leadership on this complex issue. I believe he is providing a clear signal to all foreign governments of our priorities and that they will be held accountable. The recent actions of Syria and Russia reflect this.
Former Republican State Senate candidate Ken Hawkins of Bedford: He still doesn't understand that Islam don't negotiate. They want nothing to do with Christians, and only want to kill us. He still seems to be blaming Bush for us still being in Iraq & Afghanistan. How many times do you have to say protect the children. I don't think he has any concept about actually working with folks. How do you announce we are going to bomb you in the next week - never mind make that two weeks - sorry maybe next month.
Republican Steve Poschmann of Bedford: Some bullet points:
- So, over 100,000 people being killed in the past few years means nothing until 1,000 are killed using nerve gas? The first 100,000 followed the rules of war, I guess. Doesn’t track.
- We mustn't look away at the Syrian atrocities? The world is constantly looking the other way when there are atrocities in Africa, North Korea and many other places.
- The President sounded like Colin Powell at the U.N. Security Council making the case for attacking Iraq when he called the U.S. the “oldest constitutional democracy”. Wonder if it was deliberate.
- It is unclear to me how the strike will deter the future use of chemical weapons. Or how the U.N. will be able to monitor Syria going forward. How will we be able to ensure Assad is keeping his promises. That body has been proven ineffective in containing and monitoring despotic states.
- It seems President Obama had an epiphany that sanctions do not work. He would not admit it though.
- How this action is more “plainly just” than stopping other atrocities around the world is unclear.
- It appears to me that Putin saved the President’s cookies with cratering public opinion and a dearth of congressional support. But nothing is settled. We are simply back to negotiations. So, it's not clear to me why he made the speech. Maybe because it was scheduled before the Putin intervention today.
Former Republican State Rep. Maureen Mooney of Merrimack: After hearing President Obama's speech tonight, I would think most Americans now have more questions than answers about the U.S.'s involvement in Syria. Why are other nations not following the U.S. position regarding Syria? If the 'cause is plainly just,' why delay a Congressional vote? Why is Russia taking the lead with Syrian negotiations? Why is a UN resolution needed if the U.S. is so convinced of wrongdoing? Details are missing, leadership is lacking, and once-strong U.S. foreign policy has been weakened on the world stage by an unconvincing administration. Further, little is taken into consideration of the ramifications of a strike in Syria, and potential escalation of force in the Middle East.
Republican State Rep. Peter Hansen of Amherst: It is difficult to believe that the President expects the nation to believe his decision to "delay" action was a choice that he initiated. It is clear that had Congress been in session he would not have received its authorization. He didn't have the vote nor the consensus of the American people. Clearly the American people from both sides of the aisle are weary and leery of US foreign policy especially when dealing with the Mid Eastern countries. It seems to this writer that it is futile and senseless for the US to insert themselves between two warring factions in a civil war and especially one where the issue is a difference of belief in which sect of the Muslim religion is the correct one. I believe Sarah Palin showed great wisdom when she said words to the effect, when asked about the situation - Let Allah straighten this out!
Former Republican State Rep. Spec Bowers of Sunapee: The only surprise was that Obama actually started on time. Everything he said could have been said, and probably has been said, days ago. It should not change a single person's position. His explanation about a national security interest was not remotely convincing. An attack by us would have no positive outcome. "Sending a message" is no reason for a useless attack.
Republican State Rep. Joseph Sweeney of Salem: I find it hard to believe that the President and his Secretary of State would go public with, and advocate for, a plan to attack another nation when diplomatic options were not exhausted. Going to war with another nation, striking civilian targets with our missiles, should always be the last resort. I'm extremely worried that war seemed to be the first option for this administration in order to defend the "red line" defined by the President.
Former Portsmouth resident and Republican activist Amelia Chasse: I thought the President's speech started to make one case - for military action in Syria - and then suddenly made a u-turn to advocate watching and waiting for diplomatic action that relies on Russia's Putin - hardly a sanguine proposal. I'd add to that that its remarkable to me that a president who has had no qualms about governing by fiat in areas where he is not authorized to do so - the overreaching EPA regulatory rules come to mind - would be so hesitant to act if he truly believed this was imperative. Finally, he undid himself in his partisan appeals at the end of the speech. In the same breath arguing a moral imperative and saying the US cannot be the world's policeman undermined any clarity of message the speech could have imparted.
Ken Jones, member of the Amherst Republicans: I thought that the speech covered no new ground and was thus very unconvincing. There is no defined mission, no definition of victory and absolutely no assurance or even believable conjecture about further consequences. To use the Navy analogy, a shot across an adversary's bow can only be effective if that adversary believes that a subsequent shot will hit him.
Former Republican State Rep. candidate Brian Griset of Exeter: As a former Marine I have never been so mad at a President than at this moment in time. I recall the anger at Nixon and Clinton. Yet, President Obama's speech tonight exceeded their duplicity ten-fold. Obama attempts to convince us his current stand is worthwhile and Internationally supported. He demands compassion and support for this stand against 1,400 killed by gas, yet has been silent on tens of thousands of Jews and Christians being killed, burned out and forced to flee from the lands of Libya, Egypt, Iran and Iraq. Is death in a burning church any less offensive because burning to death is less despicable than by gas? NO. Yet he's failed to act. Now the President wants to act solely because he personally drew a "red line" and was ignored. Petty. Acting out with military might due to being slighted is not a projection of "power" or will, it is an action of the weak. Obama lost the respect of the Middle East years ago when he showed no fortitude for what was required of the righteous and the just. In his speech he said he was attempting to dissuade dictators from future outlaw acts. He should have thought of that when his weakness let 4 U.S. citizens die in Benghazi a year ago and then attempted to cover up his negligence. A year to the day and not a single attacker brought to justice nor a single administration member admonished for incompetence. A year ago, two years, four years ago Obama adopted a simplistic policy of "peace" based upon his belief in his own "gifts" of persuasion, not reality. Regardless if we were to attack or not, America has lost respect throughout the world due to his naivety. We will not have a chance to repair our reputation until this fool is gone.
Exeter Republican Julie DiCarlo: I am so disgusted this evening... For once I am speechless. The people do not want this!!! He is a dictator and must be stopped.