“I mean what I said — the world has an obligation to make sure we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons,” Obama said in a brief White House statement the same day, ensuring that media coverage of the Friday statements emphasized the prospect of an immediate attack.
“U.S. officials signal Syria strike is near,” said the top headline in the Aug. 31 Washington Post.
But the Friday statements also included many hints and suggestions that Obama was not eager to strike.
“I have not made a final decision about various actions that might be taken to help enforce that norm” against the use of chemical weapons, Obama said Friday.
“President Obama will ensure that the United States of America makes our own decisions on our own timelines, based on our values and our interests,” Secretary John Kerry said in his Friday statement.
“Ultimately, [Obama] will make the best decision for the best interests of the United States on his timeline,” a White House official said during a Friday afternoon background interview.
The next day, Obama announced he would ask Congress for an authorization to strike. The Washington Post’s Sept. 1 front-page headline on declared “Syria attack put on hold.”