President Obama spoke about ISIS at length in his Meet the Press interview this morning, but he didn't offer much clarity as to what he's going to do about ISIS. One might say he's learned from bitter experience not to lay down red lines, and that he 's being purposefully vague. But I'm afraid the truth is closer to Jonah Goldberg's mordant comment: "Everyone’s talking about what the president should say. The assumption is that saying something will reflect a policy of doing something. But that isn’t how Obama sees the situation. He wants to say something that will take the pressure off of him to do something." It still looks as if Barack Obama will do as little as possible, as hesitantly as possible.
Obama's secretary of state, John Kerry, on the other hand, isn't embarrassed to talk about red lines: “We need to do kinetic, we need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, that bolster the Iraqi security forces, others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own, obviously. I think that’s a red line for everybody here, no boots on the ground.”
So it's apparently obvious, in the age of Obama, that we wouldn't dream of committing "troops of our own," or "boots on the ground," against a brutal enemy which poses a strategic threat in a key region of the world, and which has American blood on its hands. Has there been a more pathetic statement—especially the "obviously"—by an American secretary of state?
We used to set red lines for our enemies. Now we set them for ourselves.
It now seems to be the general consensus that President Obama’s Syria policy is a contradictory mess. But that’s only how it appears on the surface. Probe a bit deeper and it’s very seriously deranged.
It has long been The Scrapbook’s contention that one of the great weaknesses of Barack Obama in the White House is both simple and obvious to discern: inexperience. People can argue until they’re blue in the face about his Kenyan father, or his wicked Chicago friends, or whether he’s a socialist or a Marxist or unholy hybrid of both. But the fact is that, in 2008, the American people elected a freshman senator as president of the United States—and on occasion, it shows.
With the images of slaughter coming out of Syria and fresh evidence that the Assad regime may be using chemical weapons on its own citizens, it’s worth revisiting the case for intervention in Libya that Barack Obama made on March 28, 2011. At the time he spoke, Amnesty International reported that “hundreds and hundreds” had been killed in Libya. Others put the death toll at nearly 1,000. The United Nations—always more effective at counting deaths than at preventing them—puts the death toll in Syria above 100,000.
Six months after it was first hinted at, and a month after widespread reports surfaced, the United Nations, Britain, and France have all just confirmed the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Yet, there has been no U.S. response to Syria’s increasingly clear violation of President Obama’s publicly stated red line. This lack of action raises serious questions about the resoluteness of U.S. policy when it comes to another potential “game-changer” in the region: Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war is, says the secretary of state, "unacceptable." Back when their use was one of those contingencies for which we are supposed to have plans, the president warned that the use of such weapons represented a "red line," for the United States.
The Obama administration now believes that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad may have used chemical weapons. Today the White House released a letter explaining that the American “intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specially the chemical agent sarin.”
House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers said this morning on CBS that "it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed." Watch here.
"I think that it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed," said the House Intel chair, about chemical weapons being used in Syria. "There is mounting evidence that it is probable that the Assad regime has used at least a small quantity of chemical weapons during the course of this conflict."