In a speech to the American people late Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he has asked Congress to postpone a vote on potential U.S. action in Syria while other, more diplomatic options are pursued.
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The president described what were gruesome attacks against Syrian civilians – including women and children – insisting the United States has both a moral obligation to respond and a national security responsibility to uphold.
“This is not a world we should accept,” the president said. “This is what’s at stake, and why, after careful deliberation, it’s within the national security interest of the United States of America to respond to Assad with a targeted military strike.”
The president reiterated the purpose of the attack was to deter the Assad regime from using chemical weapons, and make clear the U.S. will not tolerate the usage. The president pledged he “will not put American boots on the ground,” adding any potential action will be a “targeted strike with a clear objective.”
U.S. Financial Markets Little Changed in Early Action
U.S. stock index futures were little changed in electronic trading on the back of the address that largely matched Wall Street’s expectations. Equities have rallied over the past two days as traders drastically ratcheted up the odds of a diplomatic agreement.
Todd Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital, expects the rally to continue.
“Traders and institutional investors love it when the president is indifferent, while offering a toned-down version of his retaliatory comments from a few weeks ago,” he said.
He went on to say he expects commodities like oil and gold to continue on their downward trajectory as geopolitical worries fade into the background, and the threat of a U.S.-led attack in Syria diminishes.
“Stocks seem to be getting stronger as the president appears to become weaker in the area of foreign policy,” Schoenberger said.
Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, echoed Schoenberger's comments, saying "the big market takeaway is that the risk of an imminent attack on Syria continues to recede." He added that "all else equal, that's a positive for markets."
U.S. crude oil futures dropped 31 cents, or 0.28% to $107.09 per barrel in electronic trading Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, gold futures climbed $1.40, or 0.1% to $1,365 a troy ounce.
Two weeks ago, President Obama came out in staunch opposition to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on its own people. He said the Assad regime’s actions crossed the United States’ “red line,” and the nation would not stand for such abuses, vowing to retaliate with military action.
But days later, with no action taken, the president once again addressed the American people, telling them the decision about the size and scope of such military action in Syria would be first up to Congress.
Despite the request for a speedy decision from the president, the debate in Congress has been time consuming as members weigh the costs of a potential military strike against budgetary consequences.
After all, Congress must come to an agreement over whether to hike the U.S borrowing limit once again to avoid a default on the nation’s financial obligations by mid-October. If that wasn’t enough, the Pentagon’s budget has been greatly restricted over the last year thanks to the massive, arbitrary cuts, known as sequestration, which took effect at the end of last year.
Adding to all the indecision in Washington was pressure from some other nations, and the United Nations, for the U.S. not to pursue an attack in retaliation against the Syrian government.
Further, the inaction from the president and Congress over the last two weeks highlights the nation’s desire to stay out of another international military conflict, and elected representatives’ desire to stay safe in the political positions.
FOX Business's Adam Samson contributed to this report.