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September 03, 2013



Statement By The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Founder and President, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition


In this season of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, it may be good to remind ourselves of the humbling words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."


What to do about Syria is such a time of challenge and controversy.  By the time an issue must be decided by the President, it’s a tough decision.  Syria presents the President with limited and no good options.  So struggling over what to do about Syrian President Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people - against innocent civilians, including hundreds of children - is a really tough decision.  Using chemical weapons in warfare is morally unjustified, unacceptable as a military strategy or tactic and in violation of international law.  There are no words strong enough to express the outrage against using such weapons of human degradation. 


Given this virtual no-win situation, I am making a moral appeal that President Obama do the following:


Ø  The United States should insist on a vote in the United Nations – even if we know in advance that Russia and China will exercise their veto power – in order to get them on the official record of supporting Syria in the use of chemical weapons against a civilian population, including women and children.

Ø  President Obama should seek official support from NATO, the Arab League and all other international or regional bodies that have an interest or could be affected by what is going on in Syria.  The President would be wise to exhaust all diplomatic and political channels to resolve this situation with a minimum of violence.

Ø  President Obama should call on Congress to debate U.S. options in fulfillment of the Constitution’s obligation to declare war – if it is to be declared.

Ø  He should also call on such a congressional debate and authority in order to more fully hear and review all options.  It’s clearly better to have 535 eyes and voices looking and speaking on the issues than just the President’s and his administration.  Such congressional activity and authority would broaden the shared responsibility for whatever actions he finally decides to take or not take.

Ø  The legal case for U.S. (and/or coalition forces) military intervention has not been adequately made to the public or to the full Congress.

Ø  Finally, we must pray for wisdom and the exercise of good judgment by President Barack Obama.  He is not facing easy decisions.



Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH  People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.