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