The president, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has spent the past several days lobbying for support from Capitol Hill lawmakers. So far, it has been an extremely hard sell, even for Pelosi, who is usually a master at getting her troops in line for big votes.
"In terms of the votes and the process in Congress, I knew this was going to be a heavy lift," Obama said, speaking at a press conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. "For the American people, who have been through over a decade of war now with enormous sacrifice in blood and treasure, any hint of further military entanglements in the Middle East are going to be viewed with suspicion."
He acknowledged that among the most suspicious and skeptical are Democratic lawmakers who haven't forgotten his opposition to the war in Iraq. But the president would not say whether he will move forward on an attack if Congress votes against intervention, saying he didn't want to "jump the gun and speculate."
Obama told reporters that the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons is not only a threat to that nation but also to "global peace and security."
If the rest of the world fails to respond, he warned, it "would send a message to rogue nations, authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations that they can develop and use weapons of mass destruction" without fear of facing any consequences.
"That's not the world that we want to live in," Obama said.
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(Photo: Sergey Guneev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)