Pope Tweets Against Syria Strike, Writes Putin, Plans Saturday Vigil

Pope Tweets Against Syria Strike, Writes Putin, Plans Saturday Vigil

By Elizabeth Dias @elizabethjdiasSept. 05, 2013
    • Pope Francis greets Catholic faithful during his arrival at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Stefano Rellandini / ReutersPope Francis greets Catholic faithful during his arrival at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, July 25, 2013.

Pope Francis has written a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the G-20 summit that President Obama is attending, urging world leaders to oppose a military intervention in Syria.

“To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution,” the Pope urged. “Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community.”

The move is the latest in a series of efforts by the Holy See to prevent military action in the already civil-war torn region. On Sunday, the Pope declared in his Angelus teaching that Saturday Sept. 7 would be an day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. The prayer rally will take place in St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. to midnight, on the vigil of the birth of Mary, the Queen of Peace. “Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love,” the Pope asked people around the world. “She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children!”

Next Pope Francis took his views on Syria to Twitter. On Monday he tweeted, “War never again! Never again war!” and “How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake.” On Tuesday, he tweeted “We want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out!” and “With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons.” Today his social media message was, “With all my strength, I ask each party in the conflict not to close themselves in solely on their own interests. #prayforpeace.”

Cardinal Dolan and leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops followed the Pope’s lead and wrote to every member of Congress today urging them to vote against military intervention in Syria. Yesterday the USCCB also wrote to President Obama, reminding him that the Pope and Middle Eastern Bishops “have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences.” Dolan also asked Catholics to urge their representatives in Washington to vote against a military strike.

The Vatican, which almost always stops short of taking sides in international issues, historically holds to just war theory, which requires a military defense meet a set of strict qualifications, including that “the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain,” “all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective,” and ”the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”

Pope Francis’ response to Syria is in line with how his predecessors handled international conflicts. Pope Benedict XVI expressed concerns over the military intervention in Libya. Pope John Paul II continually and strongly spoke out against the US-led war in Iraq. The US and the Vatican squared off during the 1989 Panama invasion when dictator Manuel Noriega took refuge in the Vatican embassy.

US seals tried to blast Noriega out with deafening levels of rock music and only stopped the “rock-’n’-roll offensive,” as TIME called it, after the Vatican complained to President George HW Bush. Pope John Paul II kept quiet on the crisis, and left it to the hands of Vatican officials.

TEA PARTY GROUPS NATIONWIDE UNITE AGAINST AMERICAN ATTACK ON SYRIA

TEA PARTY GROUPS NATIONWIDE UNITE AGAINST AMERICAN ATTACK ON SYRIA

 667
 1
 411

Republican leaders in Washington, including SpeakerJohn Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Senators McCain (R-AZ)Graham (R-SC), and Corker (R-TN), are supporting President Obama’s call for an American attack on Syria, but Tea Party groups around the country are united in their opposition to such military action.

Tea Party activists appear to be virtually unanimous in their support for the position taken by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who said on Tuesday the United States “should not serve as Al-Qaeda’s Air Force.”

Lynn Moss, co-organizer of the Mid-South Tea Party in Memphis, Tennessee, expressed a view held by many Tea Party activists around the country. Moss told Breitbart News on Thursday, “both sides of the conflict in Syria are enemies of the United States. It would be foolish,” she said, “and self-defeating to involve ourselves in this already volatile situation.”

Joanne Jones, vice chairman of the Charleston Tea Party in South Carolina, told Breitbart News Thursday that “conservatives of many stripes are opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria. Particularly in light of today’s account of al Qaeda-linked rebels murdering residents of a Christian village, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince us that the United States would indeed be helping the ‘right’ rebels.”

Bobby Alexander, chairman of the Central Kentucky Tea Party Patriots, told Mother Jones, “[c]onservatives in Kentucky do not want us involved in Syria.” John Kemper of the United Kentucky Tea Party added, “[t]he things I’m seeing and emails I’m getting from folks around the state, they’re not in favor of [an American attack on Syria.]”

Mark Kevin Lloyd, a Tea Party activist in Virginia, told Breitbart News that “the Obama administration and some in the Republican leadership seems overly concerned about the president’s credibility in the eyes of the world. Both President Obama and Speaker Boehner need to understand they each have the same credibility problems in the eyes of the American people.

“How can the president be so sure of the situation in Syria, and so clueless about Benghazi? Too many questions, not nearly enough answers.”

Bruce Carroll, chairman of Carolina Conservatives United, told Breitbart News, “we share the humanitarian concern for the Syrian people who have been killed and injured by conventional weapons and chemical weapons and the millions of refugees that are suffering due to that nation’s two-year civil war.

For Carroll, though, such concerns do not justify American intervention. “We strongly believe the situation in Syria will not improve, and could well deteriorate, due to American military involvement,” he said. “Additionally, we do not believe President Obama has adequately made the case that any national security interests are at stake, a minimum requirement for military actions abroad.”

Mark West, founder of the Chattanooga Tea Party in Tennessee told Breitbart News Thursday: “while Americans have come to expect flawed and disastrous foreign policy decisions from the Obama administration, what is alarming is the foolish part that Republicans are playing in embracing and facilitating Obama’s latest plan to attack Syria.”

According to West, “what should be painfully obvious to any alert American is that Obama’s plan (and now his Republican allies’) to launch “limited” attacks into a highly volatile war zone has the strong likelihood of escalating into a broader and protracted war. And if this occurs, Tennesseans will remember the fateful role that Senator Corker and other Republicans played in endorsing another one of Obama’s helter-skelter foreign policy initiatives.”

Though President Obama maintains he does not need Congressional authorization to conduct military action against Syria, he has nonetheless agreed to ask for Congressional support, without promising that he will be bound by votes taken in the House and Senate on the issue. On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10 to 7 to support President Obama’s call for an American air strike on Syria. Votes in the full Senate as well as in the House are expected to take place soon.

With those important votes looming, members of the Senate and the House are hearing from their constituents, the vast majority of whom oppose such action, according to recent polls. The virtually unanimous sentiment of Tea Party activists appears to be leading public opinion throughout the country in its opposition to American military attacks on Syria.

JUST WHOSE WAR IS THIS?

mercenary

JUST WHOSE WAR IS THIS?

Pat Buchanan decries notion of Americans ‘hired out to do the big-time killing for royals’

Published: 7 hours ago

Wednesday, John Kerry told the Senate not to worry about the cost of an American war on Syria.

The Saudis and Gulf Arabs, cash-fat on the $110-a-barrel oil they sell U.S. consumers, will pick up the tab for the Tomahawk missiles.

Has it come to this – U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen as the mercenaries of sheikhs, sultans and emirs, Hessians of the New World Order, hired out to do the big-time killing for Saudi and Sunni royals?

Yesterday, too, came a stunning report in the Washington Post.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has joined the Israeli lobby AIPAC in an all-out public campaign for a U.S. war on Syria

Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League have invoked the Holocaust, with Hier charging the U.S. and Britain failed to rescue the Jews in 1942.

Yet, if memory serves, in ’42 the Brits were battling Rommel in the desert and the Americans were still collecting their dead at Pearl Harbor and dying on Bataan and Corregidor.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, too, bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson, the Macau casino mogul whose solicitude for the suffering children of Syria is the stuff of legend, is also backing Obama’s war.

Adelson, who shelled out $70 million to bring down Barack, wants his pay-off – war on Syria. And he is getting it. Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have saluted and enlisted. Sheldon, fattest of all fat cats, is buying himself a war.

Yet, is it really wise for Jewish organizations to put a Jewish stamp on a campaign to drag America into another war that a majority of their countrymen do not want to fight?

Moreover, this war has debacle written all over it. Should it come, a divided nation will be led by a diffident and dithering commander in chief who makes Adlai Stevenson look like Stonewall Jackson.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey is having trouble even defining the mission. While Obama says it will be an in-and-out strike of hours, a “shot across the bow,” John McCain says the Senate resolution authorizes robust strikes, lethal aid to the rebels and a campaign to bring down Bashar Assad.

If the Republican Party backs this war, it will own this war.

And U.S. involvement will last not for days, but for the duration. And if our power is unleashed, our prestige and superpower status go on the line.

If the rebels then lose, we lose. And if the rebels win, who wins?

Is it the same jihadists who just shelled that Christian village and terrorized that convent of Christian nuns?

Is it the same rebels seen on the front page of Thursday’s New York Times about to execute, Einsatzgruppen-style, captive Syrian soldiers, forgetting only to have the victims of their war crime dig their own graves first?

Does the Republican Party really want to own a war that could end with al-Qaida in power or occupying sanctuaries in Syria?

Does the U.S. Jewish community really want to be responsible for starting a war that ends with 2 million Christian Syrians facing a fate not unlike that of Poland’s Jews?

About the debate on this war, there is an aspect of the absurd.

We are told we must punish Assad for killing Syrians with gas, but we do not want Assad’s regime to fall. Which raises a question: How many Syrians must we kill with missiles to teach Assad he cannot kill any more Syrians with gas? Artillery, fine. Just no gas.

How many Syrians must we kill to restore the credibility of our befuddled president who now says he did not draw that “red line” on chemical weapons; the world did when it outlawed such weapons.

Yet this statement may offer Obama a way out of a crisis of his own making without his starting a war to save face.

Iran and Russia agree chemical weapons were used. Vladimir Putin has said Russia will back military action against those who did it. The Russians have put out a 100-page document tracing the March use of chemical weapons to the rebels. The Turks reportedly intercepted small amounts of sarin going to the rebels. We claim solid proof that Assad’s regime authorized and used chemical weapons.

Why not tell the Russians to meet us in the Security Council where we will prove our “slam-dunk” case?

If we can, and do, we will have far greater support for collective sanctions or action than we do now. And if we prove our case and the U.N. does nothing, we will have learned something about the international community worth learning.

But the idea of launching missiles based on evidence we will not reveal about Syria’s use of chemical weapons, strikes that will advance the cause of the al-Qaida terrorists who killed 3,000 of us and are anxious to kill more, would be an act of such paralyzing stupidity one cannot believe that even this crowd would consciously commit it.

Russia says it’s compiled 100-page report blaming Syrian rebels for a chemical weapons attack. Many of the rebels are savages.

Russia says it’s compiled 100-page report blaming Syrian rebels for a chemical weapons attack.

syriaThis image provided by Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show dead bodies after an attack on Ghouta, Syria on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. | Uncredited/AP
By Matthew Schofield | McClatchy Foreign Staff

BERLIN — Russia says it has compiled a 100-page report detailing what it says is evidence that Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, were behind a deadly sarin gas attack in an Aleppo suburb earlier this year.

In a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website late Wednesday. Russia said the report had been delivered to the United Nations in July and includes detailed scientific analysis of samples that Russian technicians collected at the site of the alleged attack, Khan al Asal.

Russia said its investigation of the March 19 incident was conducted under strict protocols established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency that governs adherence to treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. It said samples that Russian technicians had collected had been sent to OPCW-certified laboratories in Russia.

The report itself was not released. But the statement drew a pointed comparison between what it said was the scientific detail of the report and the far shorter intelligence summaries that the United States, Britain and France have released to justify their assertion that the Syrian government launched chemical weapons against Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21. The longest of those summaries, by the French, ran nine pages. Each relies primarily on circumstantial evidence to make its case, and they disagree with one another on some details, including the number of people who died in the attack.

The Russian statement warned the United States and its allies not to conduct a military strike against Syria until the United Nations had completed a similarly detailed scientific study into the Aug. 21 attack. It warned that what it called the current “hysteria” about a possible military strike in the West was similar to the false claims and poor intelligence that preceded the United States invasion of Iraq.

“The Russian report is specific,” the ministry statement said. “It is a scientific and technical document.”

The statement also noted that the attention paid to the Aug. 21 attack had diverted attention from the investigation into the March 19 incident, which was the reason U.N. investigators were in Syria when the more recent attack took place.

“Unfortunately, that investigation still essentially has not begun,” the statement said.

There was no immediate comment from the United States. Independent chemical weapons experts contacted by McClatchy said they had not had time to read the Russian document, which was released as Secretary of State John Kerry was appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to make the Obama administration’s case for a retaliatory strike on Syria as punishment for the attack.

A U.N. team spent four days late last month investigating the Aug. 21 incident. The samples it collected from the site and alleged victims of the attack are currently being examined at OPCW labs in Europe. U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon has urged the United States to delay any strike until after the results of that investigation are known.

Richard Guthrie, formerly project leader of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Project of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who said he had not seen the original report, said the Russian statement on the makeup of the sarin found outside Aleppo, which the Russians said indicated it was not military grade, might reflect only that “there are a lot of different ways to make sarin.”

He added: “The messy mix described by the Russians might also be the result of an old sarin stock being used. Sarin degrades (the molecules break up) over time and this would explain a dirty mix.”

But he also said that there could be doubts about the Russian conclusion that the rockets that delivered the sarin in the March 19 incident were not likely to have come from Syrian military stocks because of the use of RDX, an explosive that is also known as hexogen and T4.

“Militaries don’t tend to use it because it’s too expensive,” Guthrie said. He added in a later email, however, that it’s not inconceivable that the Syrian military would use RDX “iff the government side was developing a semi-improvised short-range rocket” and “if there happened to be a stock available.”

“While I would agree that it would be unlikely for a traditional, well-planned short-range rocket development programme to use RDX in that role, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that, as the Syrian government did not seem to have an earlier short-range rocket programme, it may have been developing rockets with some haste and so using materials that are at hand,” he said.

Another expert, Jean Pascal Zanders, raised a note of caution, questioning a Russian assertion that the sarin mix appeared to be a western World War II vintage.

“The Western Allies were not aware of the nerve agents until after the occupation of Germany,” he wrote in an email. “The USA, for example, struggled with the sarin (despite having some of the German scientists) until the 1950s, when the CW program expanded considerably.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry posted the statement shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin had asked a Russian interviewer what the American reaction would be if evidence showed that Syrian rebels, not the Assad regime, had been behind a chemical weapons attack.

The report dealt with an incident that occurred March 19 in Khan al Asal, a town outside the city of Aleppo, in which 26 people died and 86 were injured. It was that incident that the U.N. team was originally in Syria to investigate when the Aug. 21 attack took place.

The statement’s summary of the report said that neither the munitions nor the poison gas in the Khan al Asal attack appeared to fit what is possessed by the Syrian government. The statement said Russian investigators studied the site, sent the materials they found to study to OPCW sanctioned laboratories in Europe, and followed agreed upon United Nations investigation standards.

According to the statement, the report said the shell “was not regular Syrian army ammunition but was an artisan-type similar to unguided rocket projectiles produced in the north of Syria by the so-called gang ‘Bashair An-Nasr.’ ”

In addition, Russian investigators determined that the burst charge was RDX, which is “not used in military chemical munitions.”

The Russian analysis found soil and shell samples contained a sarin gas “not synthesized in an industrial environment,” the statement said. The report said the chemical mix did not appear to be a modern version of the deadly agent but was closer to those “used by Western states for producing chemical weapons during World War II.”

Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West

Published: September 5, 2013 952 Comments

The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”

The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.

This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.

As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in April, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.

The video also offers a reminder of the foreign policy puzzle the United States faces in finding rebel allies as some members of Congress, including Senator John McCain, press for more robust military support for the opposition.

In the more than two years this civil war has carried on, a large part of the Syrian opposition has formed a loose command structure that has found support from several Arab nations, and, to a more limited degree, the West. Other elements of the opposition have assumed an extremist cast, and openly allied with Al Qaeda.

Across much of Syria, where rebels with Western support live and fight, areas outside of government influence have evolved into a complex guerrilla and criminal landscape.

That has raised the prospect that American military action could inadvertently strengthen Islamic extremists and criminals.

Abdul Samad Issa, 37, the rebel commander leading his fighters through the executions of the captured soldiers, illustrates that very risk.

Known in northern Syria as “the Uncle” because two of his deputies are his nephews, Mr. Issa leads a relatively unknown group of fewer than 300 fighters, one of his former aides said. The former aide, who smuggled the video out of Syria, is not being identified for security reasons.

A trader and livestock herder before the war, Mr. Issa formed a fighting group early in the uprising by using his own money to buy weapons and underwrite the fighters’ expenses.

His motivation, his former aide said, was just as the poem he recited said: revenge.

In Washington on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the issue of radicalized rebels in an exchange with Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican. Mr. Kerry insisted, “There is a real moderate opposition that exists.”

Mr. Kerry said that there were 70,000 to 100,000 “oppositionists.” Of these, he said, some 15 percent to 20 percent were “bad guys” or extremists.

Mr. McCaul responded by saying he had been told in briefings that half of the opposition fighters were extremists.

Much of the concern among American officials has focused on two groups that acknowledge ties to Al Qaeda. These groups — the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — have attracted foreign jihadis, used terrorist tactics and vowed to create a society in Syria ruled by their severe interpretation of Islamic law.

KERRY COMPARES SYRIAN INTERVENTION TO NORMANDY INVASION

KERRY COMPARES SYRIAN INTERVENTION TO NORMANDY INVASION

 44
 0
by TONY LEE 4 Sep 2013 142POST A COMMENT

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry compared possible military intervention in Syria to the invasion of Normandy during World War II.

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry said that “there are a lot of folks out there who are committed to violent acts against lots of different people. We have to defend ourselves.”

After emphasizing that intervening in Syria is a “direct interest in our credibility,” Kerry said, “You ask the question, ‘Why does the United States have to be out there?'”

“You ever been to the cemetery in France? Ya know, above those beaches? Why’d those guys have to go do that?” Kerry said.

In response to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Kerry said those who died in Normandy did so while “standing up with people for a set of values and fighting for freedom.” He said “no country has liberated as much land or fought as many battles as the United States of America and turned around and given it back to the people who live there and can own it, run it.”

Kerry said America was, in that sense, the “indispensable” nation and that a lot of moderate people in the Middle East “count on us.”

Throughout the testimony, though, Kerry emphasized that he did not believe intervention in Syria would be considered “war” in his definition and continued to emphasize that he did not believe American ground troops would be needed in Syria.

Obama’s plan for Syria: Bungling, Reckless, Lunacy all Around.

 obama_angry_2012_8_6

Obama’s plan: Bungling, reckless, lunacy all around.

By Mario Murillo

First read just a smattering of quotes from around the nation about Obama’s resolution on Syria that is before the Congress:

Arizona congressman Matt Salmon’s constituents have called his office 500 times about Syria, he tells National Review Online in an interview, but only two callers have expressed support for intervening there. “This is not hyperbole!” he says emphatically.

And Salmon himself is firmly against authorizing a strike. “I don’t see any national-security imperative for our country at all. Both sides in this equation are bad actors.” He also notes that Obama has been unable to form an international coalition and hasn’t laid out an overall objective for a missile strike. “Other than saving face for the president, I don’t understand what we would be doing,” he says.

Ann coulter: “Why is Congress even having a vote? This is nothing but a fig leaf to cover Obama’s own idiotic “red line” ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on chemical weapons. The Nobel Peace Prize winner needs to get Congress on the record so that whatever happens, the media can blame Republicans.

Washington Post: “Senate-crafted Syria resolution riddled with loopholes for Obama.  Allows boots on the ground.  The resolution drafted by Sens. Robert Menendez and Bob Corker, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, grants Mr. Obama power “to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria” — but only in relation to that nation’s weapons of mass destruction.”

Daily Mail:  “That it will take 75,000 troops Revealed: “Pentagon knew in 2012 that it would take 75,000 GROUND TROOPS to secure Syria’s chemical weapons facilities.”

Rand Paul: “Why I am voting no.  War should occur only when America is attacked, when it is threatened or when American interests are attacked or threatened. I don’t think the situation in Syria passes that test. Even the State Department argues that “there’s no military solution here that’s good for the Syrian people, and that the best path forward is a political solution.”

By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Foreign Staff : “Even if Obama – with or without congressional approval – orders U.S. warships in the Mediterranean to loose retaliatory strikes against the Syrian regime, the limited operation, which U.S. officials say wouldn’t be aimed at toppling Assad, may do little to restore Washington’s credibility. Moreover, they could carry significant costs for the security of the United States and its allies, experts said.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I just have to speak out on this resolution to go to war with Syria.  That is correct, it is a resolution to go to war that could very likely involve 75,000 of our troops in a war with no clear goal, battle plan or clear picture of how it can escalate.  By waiting, waffling, and deflecting Obama has created a situation that has no good outcome for the United States.

No one can look in their hearts and see how this resolution that is riddled with loopholes can be given to a leader so lacking any skill whatsoever to conduct war on behalf of the United States.  Call your Congressman today.  Pray fervently that this disastrous resolution is rejected.

Assad must be deposed but we must go in united and strong and clear in our purpose.  Something that cannot be done with this president leading this nation this way.

new signature

Obama: I didn’t draw the red line on Syria.

Obama: I didn’t draw the red line on Syria, world did

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama gestures during his joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in Stockholm, Sweden. The president said international community and Congress credibility on the line on response to Syria | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
 By Lesley Clark | McClatchy Washington Bureau

St. Petersburg, Russia — President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared the world’s credibility “is on the line” when it comes to punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad for his regime’s purported use of chemical weapons.

Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, ahead of a global economic summit in Russia where he will seek to rally support for a U.S. military strike against Syria, Obama said the “red line” he set against a year ago against Syria’s use of chemical weapons isn’t his, but an international standard.

“I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line,” Obama said. “My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility’s on the line.”

Yet the difficulty Obama faces in achieving a global consensus was illustrated at the press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt , who decried the use of chemical weapons and said he understood Obama’s predicament, but said Sweden wants United Nations involvement and a political resolution to the carnage in Syria.

“I understand the problem of not having a reaction to abuse of chemical weapons and what kind of signal that sends to the world,” Reinfeldt said, adding, “But this small country will always say ‘Let’s put our hope into the United Nations, let us push on some more to get a better situation.’ ”

Obama staunchly defended his push for a strike, evoking the death of children from exposure to chemical weapons.

“The moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing,” Obama said. “I do have to ask people if in fact you’re outraged by the slaughter of innocent people, what are you doing about it?”

Though Obama has chosen to act before a UN investigation is completed, he said U.S. intelligence shows there’s no doubt that chemical weapons were used by the regime.

“Keep in mind I’m somebody who opposed the war in Iraq, and I’m not interested in repeating mistakes about basing decisions on faulty intelligence,” Obama said.

The press conference came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with the Associated Press warned the U.S. against military strikes in Syria, saying without the sanction of the United Nations any assault would be “inadmissible and can only be interpreted as an aggression.”

Putin said the Russian government has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria but has suspended shipments “for now.” He suggested that Russia may sell the potent missile systems elsewhere if Western nations attack Syria without U.N. Security Council backing.

Russia has routinely vetoed sanctions against Syria in the United Nations, but Putin didn’t rule out supporting a UN resolution to support military strikes if it’s proven that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.

He made clear his threshold for such support is high, calling it “absolutely absurd” that the government would use chemical weapons at a time when it was closing in on the rebels.

In the interview, Putin insisted he and Obama could have constructive talks — even though he said he was disappointed Obama cancelled a meeting with him in Moscow.

A White House official said that although there was no plan for a formal meeting with Putin at the summit in St. Petersburg, the White House “would expect the two presidents to have an opportunity to speak on the margins of the various meetings of the G-20.”

Obama will hold formal bilateral meetings with President Xi of China, Prime Minister Abe of Japan and President Francois Hollande of France.

Putin downplayed his frosty relationship Obama, which Russia analysts have said is among the worst in US-Russian and US-Soviet leader relationships.

“President Obama hasn’t been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia,” Putin told the AP. “And your humble servant hasn’t been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone either.”

“We work, we argue about some issues. We are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed. But I would like to repeat once again that global mutual interests form a good basis for finding a joint solution to our problems,” Putin said.

In a sign the U.S. surveillance program continues to be a source of concern even among U.S. allies, the first question Obama got from a Swedish reporter at the press conference was about the NSA program.

He insisted the U.S. is not “snooping at people’s emails and or listening to their phone calls.”

The program’s focus, he said, is on counterterrorism and cyber security.