NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Five Norfolk-based ships await word from President Obama, who says he hasn't made a final decision on a possible U.S. military strike against Syria.
The President and Secretary of State John Kerry made a case for a strike Friday. Kerry told Americans there is evidence the Syrian government recently used chemical weapons against its own people -- killing 1,400, 426 of which were children.
"This kind of attack is a challenge to the world,” said the President Friday. “We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale. This kind of attack threatens our national security interests.”
"So, the primary question is really no longer 'what do we know?' The question is 'what are we -- we collectively -- what are we in the world going to do about it?'” said Kerry on Friday.
That is an answer the nation, the world, and particularly Hampton Roads families are waiting for, with more than 1,400 Norfolk-based Navy personnel aboard warships in the Mediterranean.
Secretary Kerry described the kind of attack the President is considering. His remarks give every indication that the Norfolk-based fleet -- equipped with cruise missiles capable of reaching targets more than a thousand miles away -- will be the ones to deliver America’s response to the Assad regime.
"It will not involve any boots on the ground,” Kerry said. “It will not be open-ended. And it will not assume responsibility for a civil war that is already well underway."
That's not the only thing the Secretary of State revealed about the action the Obama administration seems about to take against Syria.
"The president has been clear. Any action that he might decide to take will be limited in tailored response to ensure that a despot's brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable,” Kerry said.
But Virginia's 2nd District Congressman Scott Rigell disputes the notion that an attack utilizing dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of cruise missiles from our Norfolk-based fleet strains the definition of a limited response.
"I think we've become so callous to violence and to war and to the tremendous lethality of cruise missiles that to think that we could even launch one of them and describe it as limited,” Rigell said to WAVY.com Friday. “I think that this, we've just done a disservice to the English language and any rational definition of the word limited."
"This matters to us and it matters to who we are,” Kerry said. “And it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world."
Credibility is certainly an issue for the United States in this crisis, but there are other matters of importance for the United States to consider before shots are fired.
10 On Your Side has obtained a copy of the U.S. Government's Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21st. The report makes a strong case for some kind of severe punishment of the Assad Regime, but several members of Congress, including a number of Virginia's representatives, want the opportunity to vote on America's response before the administration pulls the trigger.
"I don't think the President has made [a case of] national interest to us. Obviously we're very concerned about chemical weapons, but I think at this particular point in time, under the War Powers Act, it seems very, very clear to me – if you have a declaration of war, you have to have authorization by Congress or we have to have an immanent threat or an attack on American interest. That hasn't taken place yet," said Virginia Representative Randy Forbes.
But the President says differently. He said that that case has been made through "the use of a weapon that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war. And if there is no action, then we're sending a signal that the international norm doesn't mean much, and that is a danger to our national security."
NBC News released a new poll Friday indicating nearly 80 percent of Americans think the President should get congressional approval before using force in Syria. And half of Americans think the United States should not intervene.
However, White House officials tell NBC News the administration is prepared to "go it alone." Meanwhile, Syria has its own allies – Russia, Iran, and China.
Russia is one of Syria's largest arms suppliers. It has two warships headed to the Mediterranean, but Russian officials argue it was a planned deployment.
Iran counted on Syria during its eight-year war with Iraq. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has said he would work with Russia to prevent any military action against Syria.
China was ranked as Syria's third largest importer in 2010, according to the European Commission. The Chinese historically don't support external force against any regime.
Stay with WAVY.com and WAVY News 10 for the latest on the crisis in Syria.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
The art of making jewelry is helping some Norfolk students learn independence and job skills.
The suicide of a 16-year-old Gloucester girl has led a community to speak up about bullying.