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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Syria Panel Breaks Down Obama's Speech

Cameron Beaulieu |
September 12, 2013 | 9:16 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Cameron Beaulieu/Neon Tommy)
(Cameron Beaulieu/Neon Tommy)
USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics held Wednesday an open panel discussion on the current Syria Crisis titled “Crossing the Red Line: Will Syria Be Obama’s War."

Opinions varied during the panel, but Terry McCarthy, president and CEO of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, started by stating a sentiment on the Syria situation that all four agreed: “There was never an easy option.” From there however thoughts became more diversified.

“What kind of message does it send if the US does not act?” said student Nick Kosturos, echoing the sentiment of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. McCarthy answered Kosturo's question indirectly shortly after “if action is not taken the message that sends to adversaries and allies would be detrimental…we set that red line and Assad crossed it.”

The panel discussed the implication of Obama’s Tuesday speech, in light of Russia’s recent accord with Syria to turn over all of its chemical weapons. Student Shikhur Gupta called Obama’s speech “a good calculation” because of his ability to consider recent developments and encourage military intervention in the future.

The panel explored more than just the current chemical weapons crisis and discussed the implications of the Syrian Civil War in general.

McCarthy said the United States “stumbled backwards into a way of getting rid of a bigger problem… actually stopping this war.”

McCarthy’s reasoned the U.S.’s ability to end the conflict centered around his belief that “without Russia’s involvement, there was no way to end this war and now they’ve been dragged in.”

But he was skeptical about Putin’s involvement in Syria, calling him a “very dangerous character.” He also worried that even with Syrian-Russian cooperation, all the chemical weapons in the country would never be revealed.

However, Terry McCarthy still levied criticism on Obama, describing his current situation as “looking foolish,” and reminded the audience Obama would now have to decide whether America would be “a force for good or an isolationist power that fixes its problem at home.”

The panel ended with a warning from McCarthy on the nature of American culture and its propensity for war “this country is in love with violence, in love with violence that it sees on the screen and that has leaked over to our public policy.”

Contact staff reporter Cameron here and follow him on Twitter.



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