President Obama is scheduled to address the nation on Syria tonight at 9:00 PM ET from the
Now, however, congressional votes have been delayed, Russia is saying that it wants to play a constructive role, and Syria is saying that it will agree to relinquish its chemical weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry will fly to Geneva on Thursday to meet with the Russian foreign minister in the hopes of securing a diplomatic resolution to the situation.
The possibility of a diplomatic resolution does not mean President Obama will abandon his effort to secure congressional authorization for a military strike. In fact, he'll use the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to double down on making the case for authorizing a strike, arguing that the threat of military action is the best way to avoid conflict. Of course, that presumes the U.S. will inevitably engage in military action without a diplomatic resolution, so it's a bit tautological, but that will likely be a central argument.
After tonight's speech, we'll likely be left with the same two key questions we face now: Is a diplomatic resolution to this crisis possible, and if it isn't, what happens next? We'll be posting updates throughout the president's speech, which you can watch at the video above, and as always, join in the conversation in the comments.
6:00 PM PT: My mistake: The speech won't be delivered from the Oval—it will be from the East Room.
6:02 PM PT: And here is the president.
6:02 PM PT: Words that I never expected to hear (until the last few weeks): "Tonight I want to talk with you about Syria: Why it matters, and where we go from here."
6:03 PM PT: "We cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force. The situation profoundly changed though on August 21, when Assad's government gassed to death over a thousand people."
6:04 PM PT: "The civilized world has worked for over a century" to ban chemical weapons. "On August 21st ... our sense of common humanity" was violated.
6:05 PM PT: The president details what he says is evidence of the Assad's regime direct role in the attack.
6:06 PM PT: "When dictators commit atrocities, they depend on the world to look the other way ... The question now is what the United States and the international community will do about it."
6:07 PM PT: President Obama says if we don't act, it will be a slippery slope that leads to terrorists getting and using chemical weapons, and to chemical weapons being used against American soldiers on the battlefield.
6:08 PM PT: The purpose of a strike would be to "degrade" and "deter" Assad. He says his decision as commander in chief is to launch action, but as president he decided to seek congressional support.
6:10 PM PT: "I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria." This won't be Iraq, or Lybia, or Kosovo.
6:10 PM PT: "The United States military doesn't do pin pricks." A strike from the U.S. can deliver a message no other country can deliver, he says.
6:16 PM PT: "What kind of world would we live in ... if we see a dictator brazenly violate international law and use poison gas ... and look the other way?"
6:18 PM PT: President Obama has finished his remarks, closing by saying that the U.S. can, with "modest effort and risk" save "children from being gassed."