Speaking in Russia on Friday, President Obama admitted that using force to send a message to Syria has been a tough sell to both Congress and the American people.
“I expected this,” he said. “This is hard, and I was under no illusions when I embarked on this path, but I think it's the right thing to do.”
However, gaining international support hasn’t been easy. At the G-20 Summit of world leaders, more than half of the nations present agreed that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated – but they stop short of supporting military strikes. The most outspoken opponent is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met briefly with President Obama on Friday.
Theirs was a conversation that focused solely on Syria, but did not change Russia’s position, leaving at least one foreign policy expert to worry about the tension between the two world leaders.
“We certainly are in a situation now where the relationship could only improve at this point,” said James Goldgeier, the Dean of American University’s School of International Service. He has worked at both the State Department and National Security Council, and believes the U.S. has now reached the point where there is one primary concern about the relationship between Obama and Putin:
“Even if they're disagreeing on important issues, we need the leaders of the U.S. and Russia to be able to talk to each other in a way that's civil and even at times productive.”
And although Senator Kerry has said that this is not a war, for many Americans, using military force and being unaware of what will happen next are exactly what characterizes a war.
"I think it does raise questions around the world as to what is the United States position," said Kerry. "How much support does the President of the United States have, and what does this mean for the future? I think he opened up a can of worms by going to Congress…”
According to Kerry, even after the military strikes, there is still no clear path forward to solving the situation in Syria. Even if one is opposed to the strikes, there are still questions regarding what another alternative would be.