As the Syrian uprising continues to boil, it is becoming increasingly clear the the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people. CBS News has reported that Sarin gas has been used multiple times and can confirm that at least one of those chemical attacks was by the Assad regime. This marks a dangerous turing point in the uprising that is quickly spinning out of control. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising according to U.N. estimates. The use of chemical weapons presents a frightening precedent that could set the stage for mass casualties.
Which brings me to the central question of this article: what ever happened to the red line set by President Obama? Remember this:
That was President Obama on August 20, 2012 stating that the use of chemical weapons was the “red line” for the United States. Well, that red line has come and gone. And what has the U.S. done? Nothing. Zilch. Zero. And why? According to President Obama it is because “we don’t have a chain of custody that establishes exactly what happened.” Last I checked, the conflict in Syria wasn’t a trial for drug possession – chain of custody?!? He can’t be serious. Obama set a very clear red line and now that the line has been passed, he has shifted and set an impossibly high standard for further engagement. The U.N. has been barred from entering Syria to investigate the use of chemical weapons making it nearly impossible to conclusively establish every minute detail of the chemical weapons use that President Obama is seemingly requiring before doing anything about it.
Now, to be clear, the situation in Syria is very very complex. There are very legitimate reasons for being cautious before we jump into the conflict. Not the least of which is the influx of foreign fighters among the ranks of the rebels.
BUT, if the United States is to remain credible on the world stage we cannot make empty threats. It makes us look weak and impotent. At the very least, given the fact that chemical weapons have been used, regardless of who used them, targeted attacks on known chemical weapons facilities and stockpiles in Syria seem warranted. Such a strike would not only protect the Syrian people, it would also protect the interests of the United States. The last thing we need is for a rebel group with sympathies to al Qaeda to get their hands on chemical weapons. The ramifications of that need no explanation.
The world needs leaders that will step up and meet the tests of our time. America used to be that leading nation. But this President seems perfectly comfortable relegating America to a back seat while we watch others do the job.
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