While President Obama bolstered his case for bombing chemical weapon sites in Syria during a national address on Tuesday, he also asked Congress to delay the vote authorizing the use of force in the hopes of pursuing diplomatic relations with Russia and the United Nations. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
President Barack Obama began and ended a speech Tuesday night with tough talk, making a case to the American people for the use of force against the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's use of chemical on his own people.
"It is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike," Obama said.
"If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons," he added. As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield."
But buried more than two thirds of the way through the address from the East Room of the White House, the commander-in-chief talked diplomacy.
"I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin," Obama said.
He said the Russian government has shown in the last few days it may help force its ally, Syria, to give up its chemical weapons.
Obama talked of pushing a United Nations resolution requiring Assad to ultimately destroy those weapons.
"I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force, while we pursue this diplomatic path," Obama said.
The president had asked for congressional authorization to launch a targeted military strike as a deterrence to Assad.
The Assad regime admits it has chemical weapon, but on American television this weekend denied using them in the roughly two-year-old civil war that has claimed more more than 100,000 lives.
The president also made a point to rebuff the dictator's denials.
"We know the Assad regime was responsible," Obama said.
The president admitted the diplomatic tack may not work and said he ordered the military to maintain its current posture to keep the pressure on Assad.