Earlier this year Obama spoke of chemical weapons being the “red line” Syria could not cross. Syria of course promptly crossed the “red line” leading Obama to announce “action” against Syria back in May. That it took Obama months to finally admit Syria crossed the “red line” only emboldened Assad. Just last week he and his Syrian military have used chemical weapons again. The Obama administration spent nearly a week dancing around whether the red line had been crossed. Now John Kerry claims Obama wants to make an “informed” decision. The French are ready to let the bombs drop. Obama is pondering his informed decision. It appears the pondering will lead to a two day air strike.
The message from Obama to Assad all along has been that the red line doesn’t mean anything. Like in Libya, Obama is leading from behind. The French, of all people, are going to take control of any long term war against Assad. At best Obama is going to launch a handful of bombs for two days. If Assad’s bunkers can handle a couple days of American bombing, he’ll still be in control and likely in a stronger position. The Syrians aren’t in love with the United States and likely wouldn’t think much of air attacks. To say nothing of Russia and China lining up behind Syria.
It’s clear Obama doesn’t really care about Assad using chemical weapons. If Obama was so concerned about such weapons he would have been all over this matter the first time Assad used them last spring. Now with a two day bombing he risks further alienating Russia and China, Russia has demanded that the US wait for a UN Security Council resolution before bombing commences. Russia just happens to have veto power over the Security Council, if Putin wants he can make sure the US never gets “international” approval for an air strike. Putin supports Assad and so Obama has to consider whether or not the use of chemical weapons is worth harming our relationship with Russia.
The worst case scenario is that Syria is the tipping point for a wider war in the middle east and the world. Russia, China, Syria, Iran against Israel and the west. It ought not shock anyone if Obama gets us tangled up in such a war, unwittingly or otherwise. We Americans have to ask ourselves whether Syria’s use of chemical weapons is worth another middle east war. It appears Americans have thought about it already, only 9% favor intervention in Syria. Whether that poll reflects our war weariness or it reflects an acknowledgement that our President has no idea what he’s doing in the Middle East, 9% is a shocking figure. More people support Congress then support intervention in Syria.
As much as we may hate the use of chemical weapons in war, Obama should refrain from attacking in Syria. If Obama had stuck to his original red line position back in March or April when Assad first used chemical weapons, it would be one thing. A President ought not draw a line in the sand unless he intends to back it up. Obama clearly had no intention of backing up his red line comments, so why should he do it now? Especially so when Russia and China are creating waves over Syria. With all due respect to the Syrians, they just aren’t worth risking a wider middle east conflict. When the President failed to act when the red line was originally crossed, Obama opened the door for further chemical weapons use. Obama’s word is meaningless internationally, there’s no point now in trying to save his word.