Friday, April 26, 2013

How Should Obama Respond To Syria Crossing His 'Red Line'?

Seeing Red

If Syria has used chemical weapons against its own people and crossed Obama’s red line, how should the president respond?

A man runs amongst rubble as smoke rises from buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa province, eastern Syria, March 12, 2013.  

It seemed for a moment today that we might soon be at war with Syria.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters that, according to new intelligence analyses, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has likely used chemical weapons, specifically sarin, against rebel forces.

At least five times in the last eight months, President Obama has declared that any such use of chemical weapons would cross “a red line.” These are fighting words, or very close to them. If a president describes a possible action as “crossing a red line,” then does nothing about it, no future declaration of red lines—no threat to respond with force to some horrible action—will be taken seriously by anyone, friend or foe.

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