Barack Obama’s “Red Line” On Syria

Yesterday, the world awoke to an influx of reports citing hundreds dead in Syria. According to anti-Assad activists, the Assad regime carried out a toxic gas attack in Ghouta, a suburb east of Damascus. Claims by the opposition estimate hundreds of people, maybe even more than a 1,000, were massacred…

Yesterday, the world awoke to an influx of reports citing hundreds dead in Syria.

According to anti-Assad activists, the Assad regime carried out a toxic gas attack in Ghouta, a suburb east of Damascus. Claims by the opposition estimate hundreds of people, maybe even more than a 1,000, were massacred in the middle of the night as they slept.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is now searching for answers about the attack.

If initial reports prove accurate, yesterday’s attack would be the worst use of chemical weapons in Syria’s two-year civil war and the worst known use of chemical weapons since Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in 1988. It would also be the most blatant violation of President Obama’s “red line” for potential military intervention in Syria.

The rising death toll and painful images from Syria have indeed put the spotlight on President Obama’s promise from over a year ago that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a “game-changer” for the United States.

The President has made it clear he would prefer not to be drawn into another Mideast conflict after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, either President Obama or a member of his administration has invoked red line language regarding Syria on six separate occasions since August 2012.

Neither the United States nor President Obama and his administration are responsible for preventing yesterday’s apparent massacre in Syria. Admittedly, there are cases to be made for staying out of Syria: intervention would be costly, the rebels aren’t necessarily friendly to the West, and a collapse of Bashar al-Assad’s regime might trigger chaos. But, why draw lines without real intention? The President cannot control what happens in the Middle East, but he can own the policies he creates and the messages those policies send.

It’s obvious that the Obama administration has been softening its language on a United States response to chemical weapons regarding Syria; it seems the administration would like to uphold the standard without forcing itself to commit to a direct intervention. Balancing those two goals has created a real conundrum, simultaneously playing down and playing up the red line. This will only get tougher if yesterday’s accusations prove true and Assad’s regime continues to call the administration’s bluffs.

We should certainly want our presidents to be cautious in their use of American power abroad; but it seems that autocrats in the Middle East are only getting better at turning President Obama’s cautiousness into a seriously effective weapon.

Military intervention remains unlikely and so far the United States and our allies have fallen back to urging the United Nations to continue investigations into the use of chemical weapons. None of this has yet to make a difference on the ground.

Skepticism is understandable, but Syria seems to be a place the Western world and its leaders is comfortable ignoring. In two short years, more than 100,000 lives have been claimed in Syria’s civil war. Though it’s still too early to tell, the loss of these lives may be one of the worst blemishes upon Obama’s administration, not because it failed to prevent them, but because it failed to try.

If yesterday’s reports are true and hundreds more Syrians have lost their lives to poisonous gas, President Obama’s red line will be yet another casualty.


Morgan Allison is a recent graduate of Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @m_allison6.

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Jackie Chiles August 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Nobody respects Obama’s red lines. That’s why Putin looks at Obama with such contempt. Putin is an alpha male. Obama is an over-educated nerd who’s never really stood up to anybody.

Finius Nullis August 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm

The (potus) is, as of this posting, meeting with his advisors, and playfully juggling his balls (yes, THOSE balls) and hoping (1) that he doesn’t have to answer to the American Citizens (yes, US citizens), and praying (2) that it will somehow just all go away.

Centrist View August 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

“If initial reports prove accurate,…”

Does our military not track flights in Syria? If so, it seems they could confirm the timing of the Syrian military flights with the timing of the attack on Ghouta.

CNSYD August 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Don’t you think they know? Just because a “recent” Erskine (Due West of what?) grad doesn’t know means nothing.

Philip Branton August 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Dear Morgan Allison,

If I may, considering your writing and intellectual display, being a part of the Fitsnews scribing staff requires that you are personally aware of all aspects of your persona and professional duty. Wil Folks is not stupid and your not either. So, you need to be demonstrating that to the sponsors and advertisers that are going to be paying dearly for your efforts on this website. Do not get a glamour shot photo to be tagged to this article; but, instead…..pull that nice hair back in a bun and get a nice black dress to show that you mean business when you write. Why do you think Wil Folks even allowed your present ipad shot to be tagged to your piece of work.? He knows his readers demand the best and you need to start displaying your best to pimp the advertisers for more dollars. The only way you can do that is to demonstrate that you are serious about your passion..! Matter of fact, you need to go ballistic in your next meeting with Mr. Folks and accuse him of blatant whitewashing of your articles. Just look at the white space on either side of this comment section. How are you getting paid for this white space..? Furthermore, what type of Heading is this for this type of article..?? Who would look at this heading and read the article..?? Heck, the number of comments tell the TRUTH..!! A better title of your article would have been……”Where’s Obama’s DICK in Syria?…” and ask what Dick Cheney would have done by now if Mitt Romney was President..? Just think how many more page views you might just have..? Heck, redo this article with this headline and see if I am right..?

Allison, look at me, …..if your finger nails are not RED in honor of the blood in Syria then you need to really think about why you even wrote this article at all. We have quality citizens in DUE WEST and your one of them. You may be fresh out of Erskine but we feel sure you understand how to read a financial spreadsheet analyzing the metrics of this web page..! If you don’t, then you need to openly ask Nancy Mace to help you in your next article…!!

Allison….its time to wake up…!

Philip Branton August 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Dear Nancy Mace…….

When you read this article, what do you get out of it..? How does this article ask YOU or Mr Stamper or Mr Graham to take any action based upon the information in this article..? Nancy, as a woman, are you going to let Wil Folks out-do you if you were contributing articles to this fine news site..? Since Wil frequently tags his favorite song to the front webpage then why does Morgan fail to do the same with her articles..? Is that one way she could be more connected to the readers who take time to read her articles..? Better yet, how would knowing what songs that drive Senator Lindsey Graham stark raving loony be used by Morgan to attack Mr Graham with..? Mrs. Mace….just think how the song “Senator Graham lives in a “yellow” submarine” be used to poke fun of who in Syria..?? If Rush Limbaugh can do it then why can Morgan not get a grip and do the same..? Does she want to make money for this website at all…?

Nancy, we feel sure that Morgan would love to see you win the Senate seat being farted on by Senator Lindsey Graham……..so Nancy, the question is….”is”…..is Morgan writing like it..??

Thomas August 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Well written. Well researched. Clear. Concise. No embedded biased opinions. No ambiguity save the antagonist, the Obama regime.

Frank Pytel August 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Better secure your milk factories, Syria.


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