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Syria Calls Obama’s Chemical Weapons Bluff
FrontPage Magazine ^ | April 26, 2013 | Alan W. Dowd

Posted on 04/26/2013 5:27:46 AM PDT by SJackson

- FrontPage Magazine - http://frontpagemag.com -

Syria Calls Obama’s Chemical Weapons Bluff

Posted By Alan W. Dowd On April 26, 2013 @ 12:58 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 14 Comments

So, we now have three trusted intelligence agencies—Israel’s, Britain’s and France’s—declaring that a number of chemical agents have been deployed in the Syrian civil war. Arriving late—too late—at the same obvious conclusion, the United States has finally agreed with its allies.

The Brits and French base their assessment on soil samples and interviews, and report that chemical weapons have been used in Aleppo, Homs and perhaps Damascus. U.S. and British intelligence agencies conclude that sarin was used. Both Britain and France doubt that rebel forces have access to chemical weaponry. An Israeli general reports that “the regime used chemical weapons against fighters in a series of incidents in recent months…apparently sarin.” A chlorine-type gas known as “CL 17” may also have been used. ABC News reports, “hyper-salivation…eye pain…seizures…loss of consciousness” among victims in Aleppo. In nearby Aftrin, survivors report “a sharp, bitter odor that stung their eyes,” according to ABC. Doctors in Aleppo administered as much atropine as they had on hand—too bad that wasn’t included in Secretary of State John Kerry’s “nonlethal” aid package—and sure enough, it helped victims survive. Importantly, atropine is used as an antidote to nerve agent.

What’s happening in Syria and what’s not happening in Washington is important—and not just for strategic reasons (the ouster of Bashar Assad would strike a blow against Iran and limit Iran’s reach) or humanitarian reasons (some 70,000 people have died in a war that, like Libya in 2011 and Bosnia in the 1990s, could be ended by the application of U.S. power). The unanswered, unpunished use of chemical weapons in Syria is important because of what President Barack Obama said last year.

Last August, in full-fledged campaign dudgeon, the president warned that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a “red line” for his administration. “A whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” he said, with his stentorian self-assurance, “would change my calculus.” Chemical weapons, he warned, would be “a game-changer.”

Not exactly. Chemical weapons are being used, and nothing is changing in the Oval Office. It pays to recall that this under-the-radar chemical war is anything but unexpected. We always knew that Assad possessed one of the largest chemical-weapons programs on earth, including mustard gas, sarin and VX nerve agent. We always knew Syria had mated these weapons with artillery shells and missilery. We always knew that Syria had five major chemical-manufacturing facilities and some 45 chemical-weapons storage facilities. We have always worried—at least since 9/11—about jihadist groups gaining access to someone’s unguarded WMDs. And we know from history—Saddam Hussein in Iraqi Kurdistan, Assad’s father in Hama—that dictators pushed into a corner will do about anything to survive.

Moreover, outside observers warned and worried about loose chemical weapons during Libya’s civil war in 2011. And the warnings continued to sound as the anti-autocracy rebellion swept into Syria. In fact, in this space last July, I concluded that “the notion that Barack Obama—the anti-Bush—would launch attacks against Syria in order to preempt the use or transfer of WMDs is as unthinkable as, well, what might happen with those WMDs.”

And here we are.

This sort of inaction is easy to criticize. But Obama’s inaction in the face of Assad’s crimes is especially glaring in light of Obama’s intervention in Libya. Recall that in announcing his decision to attack Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Obama declared , “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy…where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.”

If that sounds like today’s Syria—and it does—Obama’s inaction looks like yesterday’s response to the mangling of Bosnia. Now, as in Bosnia circa 1993, a well-armed regime is warring against an under-equipped and sometimes-unsavory rebel force. Now, as then, a dictator is winning by default, because Washington is unwilling to answer the call for help. Now, as then, the United States refuses to act, and the world follows suit.

Yet the president’s greatest failure in Syria is not in refusing to intervene—indeed, a case can be made on cold, calculating, Kissingerian grounds that America should stay the hell out of Assad’s sandbox—but rather in threatening to intervene in the event of a chemical-weapons attack and then failing to follow through.

Whether democracy in Damascus is worth risking American blood is open to debate—whether democracy will even take root in Damascus is open to debate—but the importance of American credibility is not. Maintaining the global taboo against using these weapons is not. As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel observes, “it violates every convention of warfare.” The president fails to grasp these truths. And placing far too much trust in the power of his own words, he fails to understand that actions always speak louder than words. By averting his gaze from Syria’s chemical-laced civil war, he has sent a message around the world that can be understood in every language: Push the envelope as far as you want. Commit any outrage you want. Use any weapon at your disposal. Washington’s words are empty.



TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
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1 posted on 04/26/2013 5:27:46 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: SJackson

Maybe Obama would react to the dreaded double-dog-dare.


2 posted on 04/26/2013 5:29:55 AM PDT by AU72
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
Middle East and terrorism, occasional political and Jewish issues Ping List. High Volume

If you’d like to be on or off, please FR mail me.

..................

Who cares about intelligence services, what does Valerie Jarret say? I'm not sure there's a good solution here, or any constructive action to take at this point, but our President has done another fine job of displaying American weakness.


3 posted on 04/26/2013 5:30:18 AM PDT by SJackson (The Pilgrims—Doing the jobs Native Americans wouldn’t do !)
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To: SJackson

....calls their bluff, Translates:...is it safe now to speak up without causing a reaction?


4 posted on 04/26/2013 5:31:20 AM PDT by Doogle (USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: SJackson

Did you see this? Just breaking from Stratfor:

Israel: Forces Reportedly Mobilized Along Border With Lebanon
April 26, 2013 | 1044 GMT
Israeli military forces mobilized along the country’s border with Lebanon on April 26 after an unmanned aerial vehicle allegedly launched from Lebanon was shot down April 25, NOW reported, citing the National News Agency. Lebanese forces reportedly increased their operations on the border in preparation for any military developments.


5 posted on 04/26/2013 5:32:47 AM PDT by crosslink (Moderates should play in the middle of a busy street)
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To: SJackson

Obama’s chief mistake on this issue is making that “red line” comment. There are no good guys in that conflict in Syria, but the recent actions and statements of the insurgency tell me they’re many times worse. Though the Assad regime is despicable in many ways, I haven’t been quite so willing to believe all the propaganda about killing children en masse during attacks. Muslim radicals have shown repeatedly they are quite willing to murder their own young to score points in international media.

As for the direction of Syria or any other hellhole over there, Muslims may want “democracy” all right, but the problem is what emerges from it. Egypt is the shining example of what comes from giving the majority the power of life and death over the minority.


6 posted on 04/26/2013 5:35:21 AM PDT by ScottinVA (Gun control: Steady firm grip, target within sights, squeeze the trigger slowly...)
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To: SJackson

Color me skeptical. Assad is no dummy. He knows than much of the West is just looking for an excuse to intervene against him. The Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and the rest of the alliance arrayed against him are quite capable of using chemical weapons and blaming him. Obama is also certainly an accomplished liar and is still concealing the degree of US involvement in arming and aiding the rebels.


7 posted on 04/26/2013 5:36:27 AM PDT by Truth29
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To: ScottinVA

Obama’s answer to the violation of his dare: Unfortunately due to the GOP inspired sequester, we do not have the funds to conduct any further operations in this part of the world. In fact, I asked George Bush about that yesterday and he agreed with me.


8 posted on 04/26/2013 5:37:34 AM PDT by Mouton (108th MI Group.....68-71)
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To: SJackson

Pretty please, with sugar on top, will you please step back behind “the red line?” —0bumble


9 posted on 04/26/2013 5:37:46 AM PDT by luvbach1 (We are finished.)
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To: SJackson

Obama’s way out was reported at FOX this morning. It is all in the wording. The O admin says that Obama said there would have to be “significant use” of these weapons and what has been reported does not meet that threshold.


10 posted on 04/26/2013 5:39:17 AM PDT by dforest (I have now entered the Twilight Zone.)
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To: SJackson

wouldn’t the use of tear gas be the use of chemical weapons? so would it be better to just use nukes? arent all weapons killers by definition?


11 posted on 04/26/2013 5:41:59 AM PDT by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: Truth29

IIRC, reports circulated 6 months ago of chemical weapons use. At tghe time it was blamed on the rebels trying to suck the US into intervening.

This was about the time of Bengazigate. Connected? Most likely. And that would account for trace detection of chem weapons.


12 posted on 04/26/2013 5:42:47 AM PDT by wrench
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To: Mouton

Quite honestly, who gives a damn at this point who does what to whom over there? It’s time for us to stop interfering and let that conflict burn itself out the way fate decrees. I’m sick of paying every higher taxes to improve conditions for the rest of the world when our own country is being flushed down the drain. Keep the money here and take care of Americans for once.


13 posted on 04/26/2013 5:43:43 AM PDT by binreadin
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To: SJackson

They’re NOT using chem weapons..

These are lies from Syrian terrorists aka rebels backed by Obama administration

guns2jihadists.com for the break down


14 posted on 04/26/2013 5:49:47 AM PDT by JohnPDuncan
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To: Truth29

Your nickname is very apt.

I’m pleased so many freepers are being skeptical about this.

Of course there are interests who want an intervention and they stupidly want Assad gone so they can install Muslim Brotherhood who can murder more Christians and Jews i.e McCain/Graham and probably elements within the Administration.

So far Obama has resisted them but Libya showed us he won’t for long.


15 posted on 04/26/2013 5:51:57 AM PDT by JohnPDuncan
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To: Truth29
Color me skeptical. Assad is no dummy. He knows than much of the West is just looking for an excuse to intervene against him.

Very good point.
16 posted on 04/26/2013 5:53:11 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: dforest

At the end of the day the ‘rebels’ aka foreign jihadist islamic nutjobs can manufacture anything and blame it on Assad and the neocons like McCain will want an intervention.

At the end of the day it’s a political decision whether to invade a country or not or aid the foreign radical Al qeada terrorists in a more direct fashion.


17 posted on 04/26/2013 5:53:58 AM PDT by JohnPDuncan
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To: wrench

There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.

The CIA are totally out of control in my opinion but we will never know the full extent of their operations.


18 posted on 04/26/2013 5:55:37 AM PDT by JohnPDuncan
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To: JohnPDuncan

IMO, we should leave them alone and allow them to fight their own battle. We have lost enough blood over Muslims.


19 posted on 04/26/2013 5:56:57 AM PDT by dforest (I have now entered the Twilight Zone.)
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To: JohnPDuncan

John McCain was the chief GOP cheerleader for getting involved with the Libyan mess but he sure sounded tough demanding answers when it predictably went to hell.


20 posted on 04/26/2013 5:57:54 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: AU72

I bet Kerry got a STFU call from the President. Obama’s only hope is to get the media to bury the story.


21 posted on 04/26/2013 6:03:42 AM PDT by AppyPappy (You never see a massacre at a gun show.)
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To: cripplecreek

I called it a schizophrenic foreign policy.

McCain has never been against any intervention for as long as I can remember and is always complaining there isn’t more.

If it was up to him the US would be a military state like North Korea with 25% GDP spent on the Pentagon and 150 countries around the world under direct occupation with governors appointed by Washington DC. Even then he’ll find something to complain about.

In short he’s a joke.


22 posted on 04/26/2013 6:05:56 AM PDT by JohnPDuncan
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To: ScottinVA

If you draw a line in the sand, you should already know what your response is going to be ... you’ve had time to plan for almost all realistic contingencies. It’s shows a complete ineptitude that they waited till the ‘red line’ was crossed to make the decision that now they have to plan their ‘next steps’.

Every news conference of the coward in chief’s PR guy:
- been in close contact with our allies in the region
- closely monitoring the situation
- put the regime on even more notice
- leaving all options on the table


23 posted on 04/26/2013 6:07:18 AM PDT by ChiefJayStrongbow
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To: SJackson

Obama’s red line is now Obama’s PINK line..


24 posted on 04/26/2013 6:08:31 AM PDT by baddog 219
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