The White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough appeared on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday to urge Congress to authorize United States military action in Syria, not only for Syria’s sake but to prevent other nations from taking simliar actions as Syria in the future.
“Nobody is rebutting the intelligence. Nobody doubts the intelligence. That means that everybody believes that Bashar Al Assad used chemical weapons against his own people,” McDonough said.
Expanding on that remark, McDonough expressed concern about the consequences of Assad’s actions.
“How congress chooses to [respond to the consequences] will be listened to very clearly in Damascus, but not just in Damascus, also in Tehran and Lebanese Hezbollah.
“Meet the Press” host David Gregory prompted McDonough to clarify his remarks, “You’re saying, ‘Look, if we don’t do this, Iran, which you believe is developing a nuclear weapon, looks at that and says, Aha! The United States could be trifled with.’”
McDonough responded, “We have to be very clear, very forthright. This is an opportunity to be both with the Iranians to make sure that they do not have greater freedom of action. They do not have a greater operating space to pursue a nuclear weapon which would destabilize that entire region, threaten our friends and allies and ultimately threaten us.”
Gregory highlighted that McDonough’s argument for intervention in Syria sounded more like it was about Iran than it was about Syria.
McDonough explained in response that intervention is needed to bolster the prohibition on chemical weapons, “We have to make sure that for the sake of our guys, our men and women on the front lines, that we reinforce this prohibition.”
The stockpiling and usage of chemical weapons was outlawed through a United Nations treaty titled, "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction,” also known as the “Chemical Weapons Convention,” which was drafted in September 1992 and opened to signing in January 1993. The “Chemical Weapons Convention” went into effect in April 1997 after it received 165 signatures from participating countries.
However, the treaty has 189 parties, including several parties who have agreed to the treaty’s terms after the window for signing closed in April 1997.
Watch McDonough’s interview on “Meet The Press” in the video above.