Did U.S. set foreign policy via gaffes? An unscripted comment a year ago put President Obama into a box on Syria. An offhand remark two days ago gave him a way out of it, at least for the moment.
That unexpected turn of events meant the president delivered an address to the nation Tuesday night that wasn’t the clarion call to military action he had planned when it was scheduled. Instead, he not only argued that American interests and values justified missile strikes on Syria but also embraced as worth exploring a last-minute pitch from Russia for a diplomatic solution to avoid doing just that.
“After careful deliberation, I determined that 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 declared. “That’s my judgment as commander in chief.” But he went on to say that he had asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on authorizing the use of force until the diplomatic initiative had been pursued.