SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – President Obama said Friday he doesn’t foresee any circumstance requiring the U.S. to send ground troops into Syria, even as Washington pursues more evidence about the regime’s purported use of chemical weapons.
I do not foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria, American boots on the ground, would not only be good for America but also would be good for Syria, Obama said at a news conference.
The president’s declaration was in line with the apparent prevailing sentiment in Washington.
Even one of Obama’s chief antagonists on Syria, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has said he does not advocate sending ground troops, arguing that would be the worst thing the United States could do right now.
Obama also said he had consulted with Mideast leaders who want to see Syrian President Bashar Assad’s departure and agree with his assessment that the U.S. shouldn’t send ground forces. After long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, another U.S. intervention in the region could further inflame anti-American sentiment.
Obama, who was meeting with Central American leaders in Costa Rica, was asked what the United States would do if its investigations find firmer evidence of Syrian use of chemical weapons. He repeated his earlier assertion that it would be a game-changer.
We will stay on this, Obama said. The United States has sent humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels but not arms. The two-year civil war has left an estimated 70,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees.
If systematic use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces were confirmed, he said, the United States would present that evidence to the international community.
When it comes to using chemical weapons, the entire world should be concerned, he said.
In the wake of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama also stressed the importance of moving cautiously.
When we rush into things, when we leap before we look, not only do we pay a price but oftentimes we see unintended consequences on the ground, he said. It’s important for us to do it right.