Over the past week or so, Americans have been bludgeoned with news about Syria and the prospects of war. According to multiple reports, U.S. intelligence, United Nations medical testing, and some pretty disturbing photographs; chemical weapons were used in Syria to kill people in the region.
In addition, many reports suggest that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is behind the attacks while others imply that it was the work of rebel forces. Syria has been enthralled in a two year civil war that has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people, and many believe that Assad used chemical weapons as a means to gain the upper hand in the country’s conflict.
Prior to the previous reports of chemical weapons usage in Syria, President Barack Obama drew a pretty bright line in the sand regarding Assad’s potential use of chemicals against his own people.
“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,” said Obama during an August 2012 presser.
Now that Obama is being reminded of his tough language regarding the red line, he’s trying to walk his statement back. While answering a question about the “red line” during a press conference in Sweden, Obama expounded his position.
“I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.
Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that — in a piece of legislation titled the Syria Accountability Act — that some of the horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for.”
So why bring up the red line comments now? We know that Syrian people were gassed to the death, and that the civil war in the Western Asia country seems to worsen by the day. But these comments are vital to where America stands on its position regarding Syria because of potential military strikes against the Assad regime for its supposed use of chemical weapons.
Oh, and this article I saw about Obama’s brilliant strategy.
In the piece, the author attempts to explain why Obama went to Congress to ask for permission to attack Syria, and how he has turned a potential weakness into a loud strength.
Innately, I noisily disagreed with the sentiment. The White House has bungled the communication surrounding Obama’s want to punish Assad, so it’s hard to believe that this is a political strategy to prove that he’s still an anti-war liberal.
Moreover, this White House has always struggled with explaining how things work. Remember when Obama called on former President Bill Clinton, the “explainer-in-chief,” to talk about America’s financial situation? Clinton was able to explain to the American people how the economy has gotten better under Obama better than anybody in the Obama White House.
The Affordable Care Act is another example of how poorly this White House communicates. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 42 percent of Americans do not know that “Obamacare” is still law and nearly half do not understand its components.
Next, the author suggests that Obama is now a “hawkish leader before the U.S. and the world.” Not according to Florida Congressman Alan Grayson.
In an interview with the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, Grayson was asked about the White House’s strategy to press Congressional leaders for a ‘yes’ vote on Syra.
“When has the White House ever — ever — been able to turn around a vote? It hasn’t happened in the entire Obama administration; much less happened when the constituent mail is running 100-1 against. When nobody is paying attention, anything is possible. The president can offer you favors or employ moral suasion or enlist lobbies. But the public is watching and is extremely angry about the president’s position. In that kind of environment, the president doesn’t even have the tools.”
Grayson also said that the perception is that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were backed into a war corner by beleaguering Senator John McCain. That doesn’t make Obama sound hawkish to me.
In the end, I side with the majority of Americans; I do not want our military to strike Syria. With thoughts ringing that an attack on Syria is a strike for Israel, or that Saudia Arabia has a vested financial interest in this raid; I would prefer that we sit this one out.
Let’s not try to pretend that Obama’s attempt to back himself away from comments that he made about Syria is some grand political strategy, because it’s not. He’s making up his strategy as he goes, and some far left liberals are trying to envelop his inept foreign policy on Syria.
Note: It’s not working.
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- Assad tells Charlie Rose no evidence he is responsible for Syria chemical attack (theguardian.com)
- White House Syria Approach Questioned By Members Of Congress (huffingtonpost.com)
- Members of U.S. Congress question White House approach on Syria (reuters.com)