Obama’s distorted relationship with the truth: Al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria

(developing story)

See Isabelle Lasserre, “Washington tergiverse face aux armes chimiques d’Assad,” Le Figaro, 23 avril 2013 (mis à jour le 24/04/2013 à 16:13).

President Obama has gotten himself into a real bind with all of his talk of “red lines” in Syria. If al-Assad crossed Obama’s red line on using chemical weapons, the U.S. was going to…going to…going to…do something really big, like even intervene militarily.

Now, with Israeli generals asserting al-Assad has used chemical weapons, and other allies’ intelligence agencies essentially in agreement, it would seem that Obama has to do … SOMETHING!

The situation is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s reluctance to call al-Assad a war criminal, because that would increase pressures on the administration to act.

But Obama does not want to act in Syria. Despite the unanimous recommendations of his secretaries of state, his defense minister, his CIA Director, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

So, his solution for the moment is to say we are still investigating whether Syria used chemical weapons in places like Homs, Aleppo, and maybe even Damascus.

One would think he can only investigate for so long. On the other hand, as his leak investigations show, or his torture investigations, he’s pretty good at stretching out investigations until no one remembers or cares.

This time, in Syria, however, the truth just may be getting poised to take a big bite out of Obama’s credibility–such as it is–and his silly use of words like “red lines”.

He really ought to be basing his statements on international law, not imaginary and unilaterally imposed “red lines”, which are naked assertions of power devoid of the appeals to legitimacy contained in international law.

Obama’s principal approach to foreign policy issues is to try to solve them with words. We’ll see if words suffice this time, or if action may be forced upon a reluctant president.

The Trenchant Observer

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The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.