By Jeremy Herb - 09/09/13 05:50 PM EDT
National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Monday that support for military action in Syria from the United Nations Security Council was “just not going to happen,” pushing back against those calling on the U.S. to seek U.N. backing.
“Let’s be realistic: It’ just not going to happen now,” Rice said at a speech at the New America Foundation Monday. “Believe me, I know. I was there for all of those U.N. debates and negotiations. I lived it. And it was shameful.”
Rice outlined the Obama administration’s case for military action in her speech Monday, arguing that failing to take action would embolden Syrian President Bashar Assad and leaders in Iran and North Korea.
Her speech comes one day before President Obama will address the nation to advocate for taking action in Syria, as congressional and public opposition to military strikes continues to mount.
Some lawmakers and U.S. allies have urged the Obama administration to at least pursue action through the U.N. Security Council, even though the likelihood is high that Russia would veto a resolution.
Rice said that for three years, even minor actions on Syria have been blocked by the Security Council. She argued that not taking action would increase instability in the region and could increase the risk chemical weapons wind up in terrorists' hands and are used against the United States.
“Failing to respond brings us closer to the day that terrorists might gain and use chemical weapons against Americans abroad and at home,” Rice said.
Rice connected the public skepticism to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which created a war-weary public.
“What the president is proposing is fundamentally different,” Rice said. “Unlike Iraq, we’re not betting on the existence of weapons of mass destruction. In Syria, we have the undeniable proof that chemical weapons have already been unleashed.”
Many in Congress, however, have been lining up against supporting military action, leaving the Obama administration scrambling to secure votes to pass a resolution on Syria.
The White House has scheduled numerous briefings this week for lawmakers as they officially return to Washington, in an attempt to win over support to authorize force.
Rice made an emotional plea to both lawmakers and the public at the end of her speech, urging them to watch the videos from the attack that were released this weekend.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough made the same plea in his round of Sunday show interviews.
“Every adult American, every member of Congress should watch those videos for themselves, see that suffering,” Rice said. “Look at the eyes of those men and women, those babies, and dare to turn away and forsake them.”