On Aug 20, 2012, President Obama said of intervention in Syria’s civil war, “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.” The Washington Post headline read: “Obama issues Syria a ‘red line’ warning on chemical weapons.”
In a press conference in Sweden on Wednesday, Obama said, “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.” And so the leader of the free world was reduced to making a brazenly false statement in a desperate attempt to rescue his personal credibility from his own foolishness.
It was his red line, drawn on his whim, and now he’s simultaneously disowning it and proclaiming that we have to go to war for it. Our enemies laugh and our allies shake their heads. Obama’s assertion that the red line was drawn by the international community via the chemical weapons convention is absurd. Syria did not sign the treaty. His assertion that Congress drew the red line in 2003 with the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act is equally absurd. It says nothing about Syria using chemical weapons within its own borders, and it does not authorize any use of force against Syria for anything.
The red line is Obama’s alone. His eagerness to disown it is evidence enough of its foolishness.