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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Syria, Chemical Weapons, Red Lines, Nuance And Obama's 'Unscripted' Moment

By Susan Duclos

Now that evidence is mounting on Syria's crossing Barack Obama's "red line" and using chemical weapons against it's own people, pressure is mounting on Obama to take some kind of action, because now his credibility is at stake, according to the New York Times.

Citing anonymous advisers and White House senior officials, the NYT reveals exactly what action the obama administration is going to take...... move the red line.

In a frenetic series of meetings, the White House devised a 48-hour plan to deter President Bashar al-Assad of Syria by using intermediaries like Russia and Iran to send a message that one official summarized as, “Are you crazy?” But when Mr. Obama emerged to issue the public version of the warning, he went further than many aides realized he would.

Moving or using large quantities of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and “change my calculus,” the president declared in response to a question at a news conference, to the surprise of some of the advisers who had attended the weekend meetings and wondered where the “red line” came from. With such an evocative phrase, the president had defined his policy in a way some advisers wish they could take back. 

“The idea was to put a chill into the Assad regime without actually trapping the president into any predetermined action,” said one senior official, who, like others, discussed the internal debate on the condition of anonymity. But “what the president said in August was unscripted,” another official said. Mr. Obama was thinking of a chemical attack that would cause mass fatalities, not relatively small-scale episodes like those now being investigated, except the “nuance got completely dropped.”

 See the red line wasn't really about chemical weapons being used, that was totally unscripted and off-the-cuff,  and if it isn't in the script, then Obama can't be held accountable for it. The script says the red line is how many people die from those chemical weapons in any one attack, that is the "nuance," that Obama was supposed to be clear about, but wasn't, so now unnamed, anonymous White House officials can legitimately move that red line because everyone knows if it isn't in the script written for Obama then it doesn't count!

No one wants American boots on the ground in Syria, but Obama's credibility is at stake because of his own unscripted comments, so that limits the administration's options.

Here is an option for Obama.... Call Bibi Netanyahu.

The conversation would go something like this:

Obama: Hi Bibi, good job on bombing the crap out of those Iranian-made guided missile shipments Syria was preparing to send over to Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group to attack you with.

Bibi: Thanks.

Obama: Bibi, here's the thing, my mouth sort of ran away with me a few months ago because I got caught up in all your "red line" talk, sounded good at the time, but Assad has crossed that line and now I am in a bind.

Bibi: Yes, when you draw a red line, you have to act if it is crossed.

Obama: I was thinking, since your warplanes are already there, maybe you could drop a couple more, this time targeting their chemical weapons stash for me, you know, take the heat off of me having to actually do something.

Bibi: No problem Bammie, Israel will always stand up for our allies, even when they don't stand up for us.

Win/win for Obama, if the chemical weapons caches are destroyed, Obama can claim he "acted" through our allies. If it fails, Obama has someone else to blame.