Skip to comments.NYT: Obama retreating on “red line” for Syrian chemical weapons
Posted on 12/07/2012 6:19:30 PM PST by chessplayer
In the summer of 2012, Barack Obama talked tough about red lines for Syria and the regimes chemical weapons. In a rare press conference on August 20th, the President warned Bashar Assad that the US was prepared to act if Assad began to move his chemical weapons as a precursor to their use, emphasis mine:
obama-We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.
Almost four months later, the New York Times reports that the equation has changed, all right but not in the direction Obama threatened. Instead, the red line has moved backwards, apparently to negate the threat of military action before the use of chemical weapons by Assad in the Syrian civil war:
When President Obama first warned Syrias leader, President Bashar al-Assad, that even making moves toward using chemical weapons would cross a red line that might force the United States to drop its reluctance to intervene in the countrys civil war, Mr. Obama took an expansive view of where he drew that boundary.
We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people, he said at an Aug. 20 news conference. He added: A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.
But in the past week, amid intelligence reports that some precursor chemicals have been mixed for possible use as weapons, Mr. Obamas red line appears to have shifted. His warning against moving weapons has disappeared from his public pronouncements, as well as those of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The new warning is that if Mr. Assad makes use of those weapons, presumably against his own people or his neighbors, he will face unspecified consequences.
When the White House was asked about this significant change, they claimed that there was no change. They offered a Clintonian explanation instead:
The White House says the president has not changed his position at all it is all in the definition of the word moving.
Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said Thursday that moving around means proliferation, as in allowing extremist groups like Hezbollah, which has training camps near the weapons sites, to obtain the material.
The NYTs sources admit that Obama overshot the mark in August, though, and had to retreat on his red line:
But for Mr. Obama, the change in wording reflects the difficult politics and logistics of acting pre-emptively against Mr. Assad. No American president has talked more about the need to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction, and to lock down existing stockpiles.
Just where did Syria get these chemical weapons? Salaam? Helllo?
Oops...I meant Sadaam..
IF the Syrians use them—and I think they will—Obama will back peddle. the Syrians will say the rebels did it to get international support (like Hitler saying Poland attacked Germany) Obama will want an investigation—and go to the UN. The world will watch as thousands, maybe tens of thousands, die. In the end assad will still have to go but his Party will survive and it will have a lock on power. After so many deaths no one will dare revolt. And America will do nothing.
There is no way Obama should go into Syria without Congressional approval whether or not Assad uses chemical weapons on the rebels. For Obama to announce he would do so in the first place was absurd, and the GOP should have been all over that aspect of this.