In an interview published by the Atlantic magazine on Thursday, Obama described his decision to step back from planned military strikes, which would have changed the course of Syria's brutal five-year-old civil war.
"I'm very proud of this moment," Obama said.
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"The overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom and the machinery of our national-security apparatus had gone fairly far," Obama was quoted as saying.
"The perception was that my credibility was at stake, that America's credibility was at stake. And so for me to press the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically."
Critics argue that Obama's decision did damage to American credibility that will not be healed quickly or easily.
"The fact that I was able to pull back from the immediate pressures and think through in my own mind what was in America's interest, not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to our democracy, was as tough a decision as I've made -- and I believe that ultimately it was the right decision to make."