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Assad Dancing on Obama’s Red Line


One of America’s closest allies claims to have unimpeachable evidence that President Obama’s “red line” in Syria has been crossed…several times. The FT reports that France has examined samples obtained from a Damascus suburb and from Saraqeb in the north, and concluded beyond any shred of doubt that the regime has targeted rebel forces with sarin gas:

“France is now certain that sarin gas has been used in Syria on several occasions and in a localised way,” [French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius] announced in a statement. […]

“Certainly a [red] line has been breached,” he said. “All options” were now on the table for action against the regime, he said, but any reaction should not block proposed peace talks. […]

Mr Fabius said: “It would be unacceptable that those guilty of these crimes should be able to benefit with impunity (from their use).”

According to the FT, the White House responded to the Foreign Minister’s statement by saying that it wants to further examine the evidence about chemical weapons use itself.

The more evidence that comes out, the more difficult it becomes for the White House to pretend that Assad is not just crossing but dancing on the President’s red line. At the point it becomes impossible to deny, President Obama will have to decide whether keeping his word is worth getting involved in a conflict he obviously wants to avoid.

All the while, the mullahs in Iran are watching and drawing conclusions about what happens when you defy this American President. That’s bad news for a White House already sweating over Iran’s plans to build a new nuclear reactor in the northern city of Arak.

[Obama photo courtesy Getty Images. Assad photo courtesy Wikimedia.]

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  • Luke Lea

    Remind us why piercing, ripping, rending, tearing, shredding, and pulverizing human flesh with flying pieces of metal is considered better?

  • Anthony

    “Instesd, events in Syria are spinning in Iran’s favor. Assad’s regime is winning ground, the war has made Iran more comfortable in its nuclear pursuits, and Iran’s gains have embarrassed U.S. allies that support the Syrian uprising. What’s more, Iran has strengthened its relationship with Russia, which may prove to be most important strategic consequence of the Syrian conflict, should the U.S. continue to sit it out.” (for related material, see Vali Nasr in today’s Bloomberg View)

    So, WRM does forecast change in both NSA and UN reveal foreign policy fine tuning, exasperation, ambiguity, transition, status quo, …????

  • Anthony

    We need to stop wasting so much time on this admittedly awful mess in Syria. The rise of China is, far and away, a larger issue. Is Professor Mead really in favor of invading Syria and/or Iran? Can our country really afford that?

  • bpuharic

    I wonder how much ‘sweating’ they’d do if we decided to repeat our Iraq experience. Red lines pale in comparison to failed nation building.

    • Anthony

      You can say that again.

  • Anthony

    WRM, you definitively provide your readers/audience instructive balance as you obliquely reference (though geopolitical topics) various U.S. foreign policy conceptual frameworks: Balancing, offensive realism, multipolarity, passing-buck, etc. Via Meadia readers are certainly exposed.

    • bpuharic

      I agree; his book “Special Providence” is a great introduction for those of us who are neophytes to the frameworks of international policy. I just wish he’d be more direct in his recommendations and criticisms of Obama’s policies since he seems to ‘dance on the red line’ alot himself.

      • Anthony

        Noted and sound observation.

  • oogabooga

    We could do a no-fly zone (assuming we have the balls to stare down Russia) but there is no way we will stabilize Syria without a massive ground occupation, food and water aid, etc. I don’t envision many takers for that option…

    If sending a message to Tehran is what this is all about, then we need to confront Iran directly. It won’t be easy and it won’t be fun, but it will make strategic sense, and Americans will be more likely to support that then watch as we get sucked into the Syrian quagmire.

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