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The president's complicated Syria speech boiled down to 16 lines

September 10, 2013, at 9:00 PM

1. "100,000 people have been killed, and millions have fled the country. I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else's civil wars with wars."

2. "That abruptly changed on August 21. Assad's government gassed to death over 1,000 people."

3. "Chemical weapons are different."

4. "No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria.... We know the Assad regime was responsible. We know that Assad's chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mixed sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops."

5. "When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until the pictures fade from memory. These things happened. The question now is: What will the U.S. and the international community [be] prepared to do about it?"

Why should we act?

6. "What happened to those children... is a danger to our security."

7. "If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to not continue using chemical weapons."

8. "Our failure to act... will weaken prohibitions against other forms of WMD."

9. "The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his ability to use them."

But:

10. "I am also the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. I believed it was right in the absence of a direct and imminent threat to our security to take this issue to Congress."

11. "This is especially true after a [period] that put more war-making powers in the hands of the president."

12. "This nation is sick and tired of war. I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. A targeted strike to achieve a clear objective."

13. A military strike "can send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver."

But not immediately because:

14. "I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions."

And...

15. "We've seen encouraging signs in part because of the threat of military action. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join the international community to push Assad to give up these weapons."

16. So: "I have asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path."

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