Note from Norm: No More Red Lines in Syria
“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.”
President Barack Obama, August 2012
Barely a year after President Obama assured the world that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad would be met with a fierce response by the United States nearly 1,400 Syrian civilians died after rockets filled with sarin gas hit towns around Damascus.
President Obama did nothing.
Then, in a nationally televised speech the President declared:
“If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons…As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical weapons on the battlefield. And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and use them to attack civilians.”
Once again, President Obama did nothing.
By doing nothing Assad felt even more empowered to continue to wage his war against his own people.
Which he has continue to do with the aid and support of the Russian government
The same Russian government out maneuvered Obama and brokered a deal in which it claimed it would take all of Assad’s chemical weapons out of Syria.
Obama, in 2015, assured the world that all of Assad’s chemical weapons were, indeed, now outside of his command and control.
Of course, we now know this not to be true as Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, again, in April of this year.
Use that resulted in an immediate response from the Trump Administration in the form of nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles that were launched against military targets in Syria.
Now, we are learning, once again, of a potential imminent attack against Syrians by Assad with the use of chemical weapons.
In a statement issued on Monday evening by the White House it was revealed that:
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”
In a sharply worded statement about the implications of such an attack the White House added:
“…As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
The consequences of a U.S. response to another chemical weapons attack by Assad will not be insignificant.
This reality was underscored when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, issued this Twitter statement shortly after the White House warned of Syrian chemical weapons preparations.
“Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.”
The Russians, already furious with President Trump’s Tomahawk missile reprisal, as well as the recent downing of a Syrian aircraft, will be watched closely in the days ahead.
Will they focus their efforts on Assad and demand he take a different course of action that will deescalate the matter?
Or, will they stand by Assad and insist that accusations that he will use chemical weapons is nothing more than propaganda?
This much is for certain – there can be no more imaginary “Red Lines” when it comes to Syria.
Either the United States’ response to Assad’s barbaric behavior will be swift and punishing or Russia, Iran and Assad will return to their destruction of Syria and with it the innocent people that live there.
The world will be watching the reaction by the United States if another chemical weapons attack is launched by Assad against his own people.
While it may create further conflict with Russia if we act against Assad for atrocities committed against his own people it will a clear differentiation to the world as to the priorities of the United States and those of Russia.
Strongly worded condemnation against Assad was the primary weapon of choice by the Obama Administration.
America, our allies and the Syrian people, paid a price for our President’s feckless response to Assad’s treachery.
Putin grew stronger. Iran became more emboldened. Assad grew more confident.
The destruction of Syria sits on the shoulders of Assad, Russian and Iran.
The promise of hope from death and destruction to the Syrian people may well rest on the shoulders of America and her allies.
There are no more Red Lines to cross.