Saying he will continue to “make the best case” in coming days for taking military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, President Obama has announced that he will speak to the American people Tuesday about why he’s come to that conclusion.
Obama’s statement came Friday at the start of a news conference he’s holding in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the G-20 Summit of world leaders wrapped up Friday. He spoke for about 50 minutes. We followed along. Scroll down to see what the president had to say.
Update at 10:30 a.m. ET. Making The Historical Case:
Polls show most Americans don’t want the U.S. to take military action against Syria. The president is asked why lawmakers should support him on this given the public’s opinion. In response, Obama notes that going to Britain’s defense in the early 1940s was highly unpopular and so was striking Kosovo in the 1990s. But in both cases, he says, taking such action was “the right thing to do.”
Update at 10:28 a.m. ET. He Won’t “Engage In Parlor Games”:
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl tries to get the president to give a “direct response” to the question of whether he’ll go ahead and strike Syria even if Congress says no.
“I’m not going to engage in parlor games now … about whether or not it’s going to pass,” Obama says.
Update at 10:22 a.m. ET. Will He Go Ahead If Congress Says No? Obama Doesn’t Directly Answer:
Asked whether he still might order strikes against Syria even if Congress does not give him the green light, Obama says he knew it was “going to be a heavy lift” when he asked lawmakers for such authorization. Then Obama says it would “be a mistake for me to jump the gun and speculate” about what would happen if his request is rejected.
Continuing on that subject, Obama adds that he didn’t “put this before Congress just as a political ploy or as symbolism.” But he does not give a flat yes-or-no in response to the question.
Earlier, as we reported, White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken told Morning Edition that “neither [the president’s] desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him.”
Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. “Do These Norms Mean Something?”
“This is not convenient,” Obama says of the crisis in Syria and how other nations should respond to last month’s use of chemical weapons. The choices of what to do are “not something that a lot of folks around the world find … appetizing.”
But, he says, “the question is ‘do these norms mean something?’ ” — a reference to international agreements banning use of such weapons. “And if we’re not acting, what does that say?”
Related posts from earlier Friday:
— Obama Has No ‘Intention’ To Strike Syria If Congress Says No
— U.S. Embassies In Lebanon And Turkey Tell Some Staff To Leave
— Report: ‘Iran Plots Revenge’ If U.S. Strikes Syria