OBAMA ON SYRIA: Diplomacy may work, but warships wait - KMSP-TV

OBAMA ON SYRIA: Diplomacy may work, but warships wait

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After a year's worth of diplomacy and red lines, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Tuesday night to say although he believes a military strike on Syria is warranted, a diplomatic deal has altered his plan.

The speech delivered was not the one Obama planned to deliver a few days ago. While he did make the argument for limited military action as expected, he also held out hope for a diplomatic solution.

The presidential paradox that saw Obama deliver an awkward and delicate linguistic dance was created by Secretary of State John Kerry. When asked what Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do to avoid a military strike, he said, "He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week."

The remark was made off-handedly, but Russian leaders jumped on it and brokered a deal that Assad has accepted in principle, agreeing to turn over the country's stockpile of chemical weapons for destruction.

Obama made a rare trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lobby members of Congress in person, urging them to authorize a limited military strike. In the end, he also asked them to delay the vote to give diplomacy a chance.

"It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments -- but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad's strongest allies," Obama said.

Getting Assad to admit he has chemical weapons is a breakthrough in and of itself, but Obama's administration says the admission was only brought about by the threat of a military strike -- and that's why America's warships won't budge while the world waits to see whether Assad surrenders his weapons.

"I've 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," the president said.

Obama said the delay will also give international allies, including France and the United Kingdom, time to put forward a resolution with Russia and China at the U.N. Security Council that would require Assad to hand over his chemical weapons and destroy them.

Yet, he rounded out the address with a renewed call for supporting the strike. After beginning the speech with a focus on preserving the nation's security, Obama wrapped up with an appeal to the personal conscience.

"I'd ask members of Congress, and you at home, to watch video of the attack and then ask 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," Obama urged.

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