President Obama blends threat of attack, hope of diplomacy for Syria

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said in a nationally televised address Tuesday night that recent diplomatic steps offer "the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons" inside Syria without the use of force, but he also insisted the U.S. military will keep the pressure on President Bashar Assad "and be ready to respond" if other measures fail.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Obama said he had asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation he has been seeking to authorize the use of military force against Syria.

Acknowledging the weariness the nation feels after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama said, "America is not the world's policeman."

And yet, he added, "When with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional."

Administration officials said the speech was the sixth Obama has made to the nation from the White House in more than 4 1/2 years as president. It capped a frenzied 10-day stretch that began when he unexpectedly announced he was stepping back from a threatened military strike and asking Congress to pass legislation authorizing the use of force against Assad.

With public opinion polls consistently showing widespread opposition to American military intervention, the White House has struggled mightily to generate support among lawmakers -- liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alike -- who have expressed fears of involvement in yet another war in the Middle East and have questioned whether U.S. national security interests were at stake in Syria. Obama had trouble, as well, building international support for a military attack designed to degrade Assad's military.

Suddenly, though, events took another unexpected turn on Monday. First Russia and then Syria reacted positively to a seemingly off-hand remark from Secretary of State John Kerry indicating that the crisis could be defused if Damascus agreed to put its chemical weapons under international control.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

Related Stories

Death toll rises in bombing of Syria government strongholds Death toll rises in bombing of Syria government strongholds

A suicide bomber who targeted a hospital in a Syrian coastal city the previous day killed dozens, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. 

IS claims deadly blasts in 2 Syrian cities IS claims deadly blasts in 2 Syrian cities

The Islamic State claimed credit for multiple attacks on civilian gatherings in two Syria..

Modest goals set in bid to save Syria truce, peace talks Modest goals set in bid to save Syria truce, peace talks

There is a hope of restarting peace talks for a truce in Syria.  

Why Is ISIS Freaking Out In Its Why Is ISIS Freaking Out In Its 'Capital City'? ISIS has declared a state of emergency in Raqqa, Syria, and officials are trying to figure out why.
Top Lebanese Hezbollah military commander killed in Syria Top Lebanese Hezbollah military commander killed in Syria

Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group said Friday that its top military commander, Mustafa Badreddine, was killed in Syria.

Syria agrees to extend cease-fire in Aleppo for two days Syria agrees to extend cease-fire in Aleppo for two days

Syria's military says it is extending a cease-fire in the city of Aleppo and its rural areas for 48 hours.

Three captive journalists freed from Syrian prison Three captive journalists freed from Syrian prison

Three Spanish journalists who went missing while working in Syria in July have been freed from captivity.

Activists: Insurgents seize village south of Aleppo Activists: Insurgents seize village south of Aleppo

A coalition of Syrian rebels and jihadists seized a strategic village from pro-government forces outside the contested city of Aleppo. 

John Kerry condemns hospital attack in Aleppo John Kerry condemns hospital attack in Aleppo

Secretary of State John Kerry is condemning a deadly hospital attack in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Obama sending 250 more US troops to Syria, calls move essential Obama sending 250 more US troops to Syria, calls move essential

President Obama announced the deployment of an additional 250 U.S. special ops forces.