Photo: Courtesy of White House
In what is only his ninth Presidential address, Barack Obama took to the airwaves tonight to face the nation and speak about the ongoing crisis in Syria. For the past few weeks, our country — and the world at large — has been in the midst of a passionate debate surrounding the appropriate response. In the days leading up to the address, the President has favored a military intervention — albeit a limited one — but recent developments (specifically Syria's agreement to a Russian-backed deal to turn over its remaining chemical weapons) have made his argument slightly less secure.
Obama started his speech with a harrowing description of the August 21 chemical attacks in Syria, laying out the justification for the use of force within the country. He also addressed the many reservations that members of the government and American citizens have raised over military intervention, pledging that any targeted attack the U.S. enforces will not involve boots on the ground, or threaten American lives. He made clear that he believes the only thing that will deter Assad from using chemical weapons again is the threat of a strike.
However, he turned the tables a bit from there, announcing that he has asked the Senate to delay a vote over military intervention, to allow the UN to explore the agreement between Russia and Syria. Obama stated that, as with most of the world, he prefers to resolve this diplomatically, and not militarily, by forcing Syria to deplete its chemical weapon stockpile. Of course, this isn't the end of the discussion of a targeted attack — if the agreement fails to move forward in a timely manner, the U.S. will resume voting on the matter. "What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way," he asked. "That's what makes America different, that's what makes us exceptional...let us never lose sight of that essential truth." See the video below for a clip of the speech.