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Obama Speech on Syria Sept. 10, 2013

Obama Addresses the American People About Syria

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama addressed the nation about the complicated situation in Syria. While Obama wants to take action against dictator Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons, the president told the American public that he has "asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force" while America pursues a diplomatic path. The delay comes after Syria appeared to accept a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control. Tonight Obama said, "we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the UN Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control."

Despite the fact that America will not imminently strike Syria, Obama said he has "ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails." For much of the address, he focused on the necessity of American involvement, emphasizing disturbing effects of the alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that left more than 1,400 Syrians dead — including 400 children. He said chemical weapons "can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant" and directly appealed to "those of you watching at home tonight" to "view those videos of the attack." He concluded the speech, which stressed that involvement in Syria will not mirror Iraq, by laying out his own doctrine for America's role in the world:

America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but 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. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Over the past few weeks, we've heard from several leaders who voiced their positions on the issue. And not everyone agrees with Obama, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said a national security risk is "clearly not at play." Do you think Obama proved him wrong tonight and made the case that we must take action if diplomacy fails?

Image Source: Getty
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