Diplomatic avenues must be pursued first.
The president made it clear: he prefers a peaceful solution. He did win the Nobel Peace Prize after all. Russia's diplomatic offer -- that Syria says it has accepted -- has Damascus putting its chemical weapons under international control. The potential is promising enough that Obama asked Congress to postpone a vote on military action. He said the U.S. will work with the U.N. Security Council on a resolution "requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control."
This is just a Syrian stalling tactic.
The opposition Free Syria Army, echoing widespread skepticism, says al-Assad isn't serious. "Here we go again with the regime trying to buy more time in order to keep on the daily slaughter against our innocent civilians and to fool the world," said Louay al-Mokdad, a spokesman for the group. More than 100,000 people have died in Syria during its civil war.
The U.S. has moral responsibility.
The president called the United States "the anchor of global security" for the last 70 years and then posed the question: "America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?"
The U.S. can't play global cop.
The president agrees with this point too. Yes, it's complicated. "America is not the world's policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong."
But, he added, "When with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act."