Barack Obama's former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, says the president has a "responsibility" to act in Syria.

“The president of the United States, as commander in chief, has the responsibility to protect our vital national security interests. There’s no question that the credibility and the leadership of the United States in a troubled world is extremely important to our national security,” Panetta tell NBC, according to Politico. “Having drawn a clear red line that Syria should not use chemical weapons, same kind of red line that we’ve drawn on Iran, with regards to the use of nuclear weapons, it is absolutely important to our national security interest that we back up that word and take action when that line has been violated.”

Panetta adds, “I think we have a responsibility as a result of that to take action. I recognize that the American people are exhausted by war, we all are. But at the same time we continue to have a responsibility to exercise leadership in the world. ... It would be nice if the U.N. acted. It would be nice if our allies acted. It would be nice of others were willing to take that action. But when that line has been drawn and action needs to be taken, then the U.S. ultimately has to do that for the sake of the world and for the sake of world peace.”

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