President Obama further defended his call for U.S. military involvement in Syria at a press conference to mark the end of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday.
Referring to intelligence that shows Syrian president Bashar-al Assad used chemical weapons on his own citizens, President Obama said: “Failing to respond to this breach of this international norm would send a signal to rogue nations, authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations, that they can develop and use weapons of mass destruction and not pay a consequence.”
President Obama reiterated his push to gain support from world leaders and the U.S. Congress, but offered no answer when asked if he would act if Congress fails to grant him approval. “In the coming days I’ll continue to consult with my fellow leaders around the world, and I will continue to consult with Congress,” the president said, adding: “And I will make the best case that I can to the American people, as well as to the international community, for taking necessary and appropriate action.”
The president also alluded to his anti-war record as evidence that the proposed military strikes are justified. “I was elected to end wars, not start them. I’ve spent the last four and a half years doing everything I can to reduce our reliance on military power as a means of meeting our international obligations and protecting the American people.”
Video of the entire press conference is below. The full transcript of the president’s remarks is here.