President Obama capped a busy day of Syria developments with his personal pitch to the nation tonight: He's willing to pursue Russia's plan for a diplomatic resolution, but he insists that the US should remain ready to use military force "if diplomacy fails," reports CNN. Obama said he has asked Congress to postpone any vote on the potential use of force until Moscow's plan plays out on the international stage. "It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments, but 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," said Obama. If the initiative fails, however, America is obligated to act given the nature of chemical weapons, he said. "That's what makes America different. That's what makes America exceptional." (Read the full transcript via the Washington Post.)
The president—who reiterated that "I will not put American boots on the ground"—also made the case that stopping such weapons is a matter of national security for the US: "If we fail to act," Bashar al-Assad will keep using them, and "other tyrants" and terrorist organizations could follow suit. Iran might be emboldened to shrug off international law in regard to nuclear weapons. "When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory, but these things happened," said the president, who encouraged people to look at the videos from Syria for themselves. As for the diplomatic path: It seemed to be making progress for most of the day but suffered a late setback when Russia rejected the idea of any UN resolution that called for the possibility of military action, reports the AP. Moscow wants any use of force off the table, and a resolution being drawn up by France doesn't oblige. John Kerry, meanwhile, is set to meet with his Russian counterpart on Thursday in Geneva.