Sept. 11 - Americans in New York's Times Square weigh in on U.S. President Barack Obama's plan for Syria with expressions of both support and disapproval after he delivers a national speech outlining his administration's response to alleged chemical weapons use by the Assad government. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: U.S. President Barack Obama used a televised address to the nation on Tuesday (September 10) to make his administration's case for taking military action against Syria to neutralize its chemical weapons if diplomacy fails. Speaking from the White House's East Room, Obama vowed to explore a diplomatic initiative from Russia to control Syria's chemical weapons but voiced skepticism about it and urged war-weary Americans to support his threat to use military force. After the speech Americans in Times Square had mixed reactions to any use of force against Syria and to the Obama administration's case for taking action. "I don't think we should attack Syria," said Kim Lemmon from Oregon, saying Syria is a big topic of conversation in her family. "I'm very disappointed. I don't think that we should be doing this. I love Obama. I voted for Obama. I don't agree," she added. Several people pointed to the United State's involvement in Iraq and the faulty intelligence on that country's chemical weapons program. "In Iraq we've proven that sometimes our intelligence isn't always coming up with the right answers," said Joe Toscano from Washington State. "I think we need to pursue all possible solutions before we take military action. I think we need to listen to our Congress," he added. "I don't want to see another Iraq," said Californian Jason Lauterjung. "I don't necessarily agree with what happened there. And I don't think it's necessarily the United States position to play police to the world." Obama used much of his speech to lay out the case against Syria, saying there was plenty of evidence showing that the Syrian government was behind an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that killed 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. He argued that Syria should face consequences for using such weapons because much of the world has adopted a ban on chemical weapons. If the civilized world does nothing to respond, it will only embolden U.S. adversaries and increase the chances U.S. troops might one day face these weapons on the battlefield, he argued. Felice Carson from New York City agreed with Obama that the use of chemical weapons requires an unambiguous response. "Together we should be standing up to say we don't accept genocide, we don't accept chemical warfare and if you do these things and support terrorism there will be grave and swift consequences." "Chemical warfare and nuclear warfare is not to be stood for. So I think if somebody is threatening it then we're to make a move to stop it, absolutely," said Greg Andrews visiting from California. Raj Thadani from New Jersey said he wasn't sure a military response was what was called for against Syria, but he said something needed to be done. "It's too risky to just leave it be and we have that moral responsibility to work that out. Hopefully it won't lead to military action, something can proceed that hopefully. But we do have to do something about it," said Thadani. Obama asked the U.S. Senate to put off a vote on his request for an authorization of military force to let the diplomacy play out. It has been far from certain whether Obama would win a vote in the restive Congress on the Syrian issue. A negative outcome would be a huge embarrassment for the president. Obama set no deadlines for diplomacy to run its course, but said any deal with Assad would require verification that the Syrian president keeps his word. The Russian offer had the effect of extending Obama a lifeline as he fought an uphill battle to persuade Congress and Americans to support a go-it-alone attack on Syria.