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3 takeaways from Obama's speech on Syria

President Obama addressed the nation last night in a speech on Syria. He made an impassioned case for targeted strikes against Syria but also heralded the potential of recent diplomatic developments. Here are three key takeaways from his address.

3. Short-term public appeasement may hurt long-term interests

Obama’s slide in the polls may stop. It's not because of what he said, but because the latest Russo-Syrian maneuver seems likely to avert a military strike. And that's what the American people wanted.

The long-run consequences of this episode might not be so rosy if Mr. Assad stays in power and Russian President Vladimir Putin gains in prestige. But as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of American democracy: "The people feel more strongly than they reason; and if present ills are great, it is to be feared that they will forget the greater evils that perhaps await them in case of defeat."

John J. Pitney Jr. is the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics and coauthor of “After Hope and Change: the 2012 Elections and American Politics.”

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