The US President is postponing plans for a military strike against Syria to give a Russian diplomatic initiative a chance to succeed.
In a televised address, Barack Obama said it could be the solution to the chemical weapons crisis.
“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. “I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorise the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. Meanwhile, 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 decision has been widely welcomed by many Americans. Some fear the country will pay too high a price for engaging in what could be a long and costly campaign.
“I don’t think we should attack Syria. This has been a big topic of conversation in my family, and I’m very disappointed. I don’t think that we should be doing this. I love Obama. I voted for Obama. I don’t agree,” said Kim Lemmon, a visitor to New York’s Times Square.
Sentiments shared by Joe Toscano from Washington State: “In Iraq we’ve proven that sometimes our intelligence isn’t always coming up with the right answers. I think we need to pursue all possible solutions before we take military action.”
Obama must now rely on Russia’s president to use his influence on Syria and use the delay to further convince skeptical Congress members of the need for action if diplomacy fails.