Obama Denies Credibility at Stake in Syria Response

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-09_20be415fc7.jpgJEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images (STOCKHOLM) -- President Obama says his personal reputation is not at stake if no action is taken to punish the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons. At a joint press conference in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Obama declared, "My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line. And America's and Congress' credibility is on the line."

Pressed about why the U.S. hasn't acted sooner after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime seemingly cross a "red line" touted by the president, Obama proclaimed, "I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line."

He went on to tell reporters, "The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.  Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty."

On the question of whether or not he would strike Syria even if Congress rejects the resolution authorizing military action, the president did not offer a direct answer. However, Obama made it clear he retains the authority to strike regardless of what Congress does, a power that some lawmakers have questioned.

Asked how he squares his status as a previous Nobel Peace Prize winner with his decision to attack Syria, the president said it is America's responsibility to take action.

Yet, Obama admitted, "I would much rather spend my time talking about how to make sure every three-and four-year-old gets a good education than I would spending time thinking about how can I prevent three-and four-year-olds from being subjected to chemical weapons and nerve gas."

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