WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOOD) - President Barack Obama addressed the nation Tuesday night, making his case for U.S. military involvement in Syria. But he also asked Congress to delay a vote on the issue while his administration pursues a diplomatic solution.
Syria has been embroiled in a civil war for about two years. Recently, however, evidence came to light that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, according to Obama.
"When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory," Obama said. "But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied. The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it. Because what happened to those people -- to those children -- is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security."
Obama said that any strike would be limited and promised not to put American boots on the ground. He also said he agrees that the U.S. is not the world's police force -- but tempered that by saying that the nation has a responsibility to act to save children's lives and increase the future security of the world.
"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 questioned.
But the president Tuesday night was in a less precarious position that he was Monday. At that time, his options were to abide by Congress' likely rejection or defy it. Tuesday, he avoided -- at least temporarily -- that unenviable situation by asking Congress to postpone a vote on military authorization while diplomatic solutions are being sought.
Obama said that the Unites States, in his opinion, should keep in tact the threat of what he called a "targeted strike" with a "clear objective." That objective, he said, would be to deter the further use of chemical weapons.
But now, he says, he will work with Russia to see if the Assad regime is serious about doing away with chemical weapons that it previously denied having.
He wants a vote in the U.N. Security Council that would require Russia -- a strong ally of Syria -- to go along.
But Obama also said U.S. Navy ships -- several destroyers, an aircraft carrier and at least one submarine -- waiting in the Mediterranean and Red seas had been ordered to "keep their current posture."
That leaves Congress and the White House in the same predicament: Trying to get enough votes to pass a resolution or having the president act without such authorization.
Even though the President ask Congress to hold off on that vote, the Senate had already canceled a test vote with many observers, believing there were not 60 votes to cut off debate and bring the issue to a vote. Numbers in the House, according to some pollsters, are much worse for the president, with a margin of 6-1 against his plan.
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) told 24 Hour News 8 after the speech that the president wasn't convincing enough to change anyone's mind.
"It just seemed like he was all over the place," Huizenga said.
And U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Grand Rapids) tweeted Tuesday night that "Pres Obama said nothing new in that speech. He simply restated unpersuasive points we've heard in public statements & private briefings."
"We must exhaust all credible options to find a diplomatic solution in Syria, and I support the President's efforts to uphold the global ban on chemical weapons to protect innocent civilians and American troops serving abroad," Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow said in a statement.
"I believe Congress can best support the goal of a diplomatic solution by approving a resolution that authorizes the use of force if Syria refuses to give up its chemical weapons," Sen. Carl Levin -- also a Democrat -- said a statement.
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