Tonight President Obama gave a speech the conflict in Syria in which he announced that we would not be planning any moves any time soon. "I have ... asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path," he said this evening. Or, if you're cynical and on Twitter, you could put it this way: The war on Syria has been cancelled. For now.
"America is not the world's policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe and it is beyond our means to right every wrong." I think for many of us, this changes how we see America's role in the world. As Obama put it in his speech, "For nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of stability." We've been an anchor of stability, but we haven't been the world's Superman.
A few of you may be wondering, what just happened? Here's a brief recap of the day.
1. The plan was for Congress to vote on whether or not American should make strategic strikes against Syria. The President had said he would not order boots-on-the-ground action there.
2. Russian diplomats asked Syria to reveal and give up its chemical weapons arsenal and sign a chemical weapons convention.
3. Syria said YES!
4. This took the pressure off a hot situation.
Back to Obama, who could now back off on his call for strikes: "I have a deeply-held preference for peaceful solutions," he said tonight. But the conflict in Syria isn't over, and strikes against Syria aren't completely off the table. The President said that he has "ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad."
Russia's diplomatic victory definitely buys us some time to give the idea of intervention the serious thought it deserves, though. Obama made appeals to the right and the left.
To my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with the failure to act when a cause is so plainly just. To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.
So if we want to be an anchor of stability and not stand by and watch a brutal regime attack its own people, what do we do? Well, as of tonight, we live to debate another day. "The burdens of leadership are often heavy," Obama said tonight, "But the world's a better place because we have borne them."
How do you see America's role in the world -- are you surprised to hear Obama say we are not the world's policeman?
Image via The White House/YouTube