Obama Blurs Red Line in Syria

President says potential mass chemical attack is a “grave concern” but no immediate intervention

  • Share
  • Read Later

President Barack Obama said the alleged mass chemical attack in Syria “is clearly a big event of grave concern,” he told CNN in an interview aired Friday morning. But the President was hesitant to get the U.S. more involved. Citing the ongoing human and financial burdens the U.S. still faces in Afghanistan, he was unwilling to “get involved with everything immediately” and “drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region.”

Two years ago this month, Obama called for the ouster of Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. A year ago, Obama drew what he called a “red line” saying the use of chemical weapons would change his “calculus” on the conflict, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the last two and a half years. Syrian opposition groups say this red line has now been crossed with this one attack Wednesday morning claiming as many as 1,300 lives in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

Now that that moment seems to have arrived, though, the President is hedging. “There is no doubt that when you start seeing chemical weapons used on a large scale — and, again, we’re still gathering information about this particular event, but it is very troublesome,” Obama said. The President called on the United Nations to investigate the attack. But said he remained leery of entering a fresh conflict abroad without a UN mandate. “If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work, and, you know, those are considerations that we have to take into account,” Obama told CNN.

Such a mandate remains highly unlikely. Moscow remains a close ally to the Assad regime and has vetoed all previous attempts in the UN Security Council to pass a resolution using force. Russian officials have accused the Syrian opposition of staging the purported chemical attack against their own population to gain international sympathy.

U.S. officials met Thursday for more than three hours at the White House trying to come up with an appropriate response to the attack, if it’s proven true, according to the New York Times. The actions on the table ranged from a cruise missile attack to an aerial bombing of regime strongholds in Syria, though the officials ended the meeting with no decision made, the paper said.

57 comments
clementgmorris
clementgmorris

today was good voted after morning reconnected to computer to chat

EddieHoward
EddieHoward

Didn't I remember something about, "I'll be the stop the wars President", and "we sill not be engaged in conflicts that don't have a direct effect on our National security"? But I guess when you win the Nobel peace prize for no apparent reason one gets a free pass.

cjjoy
cjjoy

I believe that Obama is listening to General Dempsey and rightfully so .He says the war is a bridge too far , in financials ,causalities ,time  & accomplishments .. Nowhere worth the candle .

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

When did Obama start caring about International Law?

outspoken
outspoken

Barak  obama   is saying    BLa  Bla bla  !!!!

نسرحوران
نسرحوران


Mr Barak Obama :

It's ok to admit that you are a sissy to take any kind of action to save the Syrian children , but don't insult our intelligence by saying you are not sure if the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against his own people and over 1500 people died , over 6000 people got effected by this chemical attack , we thought you are a man of your ward when you said the use of chemical weapons is a red line , but it turned out you are full of it and stinking lier to your self and to every body believed in you , and you are like every body els ( George W Bush ) who hide behind shiny logos just to get to power and stay in it and your reputation and your legacy just got smeared by your rule towards the Syrian conflict watching Syrian children getting killed and you are standing on the side lines and doing nothing to stop it .

westernfivepoints
westernfivepoints

The Pres, is spot on, stay out of this confrontation, we are not the police of the world.

We can't afford it anymore & they will blame us for the conflict in the end. the middle east has been fighting for thousands of years, let them settle it on their own accord.

We have enough problems to deal with on our own home front.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

US military joins Syrian rebels in march on Damascus

News | 23.08.2013 | 19:42

 Syrian regime’s opponents, supervised by Jordanian, Israeli and American commandos have been moving towards Damascus since mid-August, according to information obtained by French “Le Figaro”.

“The first trained in guerrilla warfare by the Americans in Jordan Syrian troops reportedly entered into action since mid-August in southern Syria, in the region of Deraa,” says the report. “A first group of 300 men, probably supported by Israeli and Jordanian commandos, as well as men of the CIA, had crossed the border on August 17.”

The intelligence service began training rebels despite their alleged links to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

According to “Le Figaro”, these military troops made their way to Syria on August 17, four days before the alleged chemical attacks of Syrian government. This makes the theory of Syrian government using UN sanctioned weapons look very suspicious.

Numerous impartial analysts also commented on a lack of necessity for Assad’s forces to carry out such an attack days after UN inspectors entered the country.

“There are, within some of the videos, examples which seem a little hyper-real, and almost as if they’ve been set up. Which is not to say that they are fake but it does cause some concern. Some of the people with foaming, the foam seems to be too white, too pure, and not consistent with the sort of internal injury you might expect to see, which you’d expect to be bloodier or yellower,” saidStephen Johnson, an expert in weapons and chemical explosives at Cranfield Forensic Institute, in an interview with Euro News.

If the UN experts, who are currently working in Syria, confirm the usage of chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict, one can expect another “Libyan” style scenario to be implemented in the Middle Eastern country.

Voice of Russia, Infowars.com, Le Figaro

JimStarowicz
JimStarowicz

Are all the Hawks, like McCain and Graham, how about you all at TIME, and especially the talking heads still getting airtime after the bush, ready to Finally Demand, a decade plus now of Not, the country actually Sacrifice!!!!!!!
Have yet heard them do so especially to pay for these most recent wars, after rubber stamping the costs for off the books till this present administration, but more importantly the long costs as to the results of wars or military actions, the peoples responsibility the decades long underfunded Veterans Administration!!!!!!!

"If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too — not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

RM: "We got a huge round of tax cuts in this country a few weeks before9/11. Once 9/11 happened and we invaded Afghanistan, we kept the tax cuts anyway.
How did we think we were going to pay for that war? Did we think it was free?
Then, when we started a second simultaneous war in another country, we gave ourselves a second huge round of tax cuts. After that second war started. The wars, I guess, we thought would be free, don`t worry about it, civilians. Go about your business." 23 May 2013

USN All Shore '67-'71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country '70-'71

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

Bravo Obama! Don't get sucked into another Middle eastern mess! Senator MCain has a twin agenda: First to show that the GOP are supporting the right causes in the world and second to show that Obama has back tracked on his commitment to keep the US out! This battle in Syria will have run its course and the World will have to sadly seen savagery at its worst. Bosnia and Algeria will pale because the Jihadists are better armed and more ruthless. Obama is doing the right thing!

applefellup
applefellup

Time for the Bismarck approach: The entire ME is not worth the bones of one American soldier.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

If Iraq taught us one thing and one thing only, it's that reaching conclusions and then fitting the data to them afterwards is insane. The first step is to verify that we know WTF actually happened.

j45ashton
j45ashton

Trouble in Iraq, trouble in Afghanistan, trouble in Libya, trouble in Iran, trouble in Turkey, trouble in Pakistan, trouble in Yemen, trouble in Oman, trouble in Egypt, trouble in Lebanon, trouble in Iran.  And according John McCain & Fox News we're supposed to be "US to the rescue", expend treasure and more blood,,,and when it's all over we bury our dead and are pretty well bankrupted.  Are there no lessons learned from when England did the same thing a hundred years ago?  Limited, limited targeted involvement at most and careful assessment of American interests.  Obama's caution is 100% percent warranted.  The situations in the Middle East and North Africa are the most complicated I've seen in my lifetime.  More complex than what Kennedy faced with the Cuban missile crisis.  Would be very nice if the GOP and Fox (Only Complain about Obama) News would stop second guessing, playing arm chair generals and just shut the hell up for a change.

Heizzzenberg
Heizzzenberg

Clearly this is a job for MERCIA to fix according to the media. They would love to see tanks rolling in the desert with big American Flags strapped to the backs of them. Choppers flying with speakers attached blasting Metallica as troops charge across the desert yelling at the top of their lungs.

Wait no no no....how about we just stay home and play call of duty instead. It's cheaper, we all get to win a war against the badguys, and we don't have to reconstruct the mess we make ingame for the next 100 years. ;) Sorry Media, still not going.

poliphobic
poliphobic

I believe your president is very wise, for once, to be cautious and may he continue to be so.  People with no responsibility should cease taunting him with the "red line" quote.

It is completely feasible that the rebels/opposition , or some faction thereof, were responsible, trying lure America in. Absolutely nothing should be done unless and until the use of "wmd" has been confirmed and the users positively identified. Even then, staying out of it might well be much the wiser option.

I'm sure he won't be swayed by the intellectual midgets here  (Cameron and Hague) who seem desperate for another war, for which of course they would need American forces.

MoamenZyan
MoamenZyan

Everyone expected United Nations investigations. The prior statements are released without evidence condemning the system. The Syrian. Or the army.And everyone knows that there is now a United Nations Mission within Syria. There's no need to anticipate events

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

Let us be perfectly clear - The Syrian civil war is an internal affair and one that we the United States should stay away from.  Period. 

Let us also understand that neither side in the self inflicted conflict likes us.  Let us be perfectly clear in our understanding that the sympathy that the media is constantly throwing in our faces will do nothing to stem the atrocities that both sides perpetrate.  Neither should sympathy be considered in any foreign policy decision as it applies to Syria. 

Getting involved in Syria is a lose-lose proposition for the U.S.

Are you reading this Sen. McCain?

AMalfas
AMalfas

@TIME @TIMEPolitics Where is the Arab community in all this? They obviously aren't concerned, why should we be?

dalerandlr
dalerandlr

@TIME @TIMEPolitics USGov.InterventionInSyriaTantamountToSteppingOnToesOfPutin'sRussia!Problematic,ForSure!Obama'sTryingToKeepThePeac!

jamesc253
jamesc253

@TIME Obama is totally clueless when it comes to dealing with middle east crisis.

thebax
thebax

They've been killing each other for hundreds of years...it's their way of life. Lets just not give them any advanced technology weapons that they will use against our troops. If they are using chemical weapons on each other and it bothers you lets just nuke the whole country. That way we don't have to worry if we picked the wrong side to support, the weapons won't be used against us and the chemical weapons will be destroyed!

bill1
bill1

So why do we have to be the world's policeman?  Haven't we spent enough of our resources in the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles?  Let the Syrians or their neighbors sort it out.

Syria is a lose-lose, no matter how you spin it.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Obamas mistake was to try to bluff Assad with a red line. The truth is that no one wants to stumble into a civil war or feed a side with weaponry when you don't know who you're giving arms and if it'll come back and be used against our allied forces.

There's no win win here.

sacredh
sacredh

Getting involved in another country's civil war has NEVER been a good idea. If we do it at all, it should be with a broad coalition with clearly defined goals and limits.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). Canada.

US Sponsored Rebels in Syria have been Defeated. Government Forces are Restoring Peace throughout the Country.

August 22, 2013

«It will be difficult for the American leaders to explain to the international community and the voters the way the US has become an ally of Al-Qaida. The cynicism of the West was revealed when the CIA appointed General John Right, who had been fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, responsible for US operations in Syria, so that now he is in charge of training Syrian terrorists in Jordan. However, without direct Western military intervention, the rebels are being defeated. Step by step, region by region governmental forces are restoring peace throughout the country.»

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Jay. Too bad the first comments you got here are trollery. It's also too bad that the legacy of Bush's Iraq invasion is that when there is a real crisis like this one that may need intervention, our hands are tied, unlike the earlier action action Iraq under Bush's father. Since Russia is stonewalling and blaming the opposition, where is their proof? That's one area I can see Obama applying pressure.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@cjjoy Putin will be the final decider on this. Obama would be better off laying off his incompetent hands off this situation. Take more vacations and play more golf. Just wait till somebody more competent and capable take over the Presidency. Obama is OK if nobody calls his bluff like Boehner and McConnell. Not the hard nose guys like Putin and Assad.

SJH0627
SJH0627

@poliphobic people with responsibility shouldn't be giving a "red line" then, should they?

reallife
reallife

@jamesc253 @TIME Obama is totally clueless. (emphasizing the period)


RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@thebax The history of our species is the history for survival. Strifes, strifes, strifes. You think your country is the personification of peace, but don't forget that your country was formed in a bloodbath. All the major confrontations of the 20th century have had your country as a protagonist. So, Hush, hush. If you have a glass roof...l 

NickNelson-Hall
NickNelson-Hall

@thebax Anyone who thinks "nuking the whole country" is ever a solution obviously doesn't understand the implications that the use of nuclear weapons carry. We should all be grateful that you aren't in a position of leadership, lest World War 3 break out and the world ends up looking like the Moon.

reallife
reallife

@MrObvious"Obamas mistake..."   

whoah whoah!  mistake?  your messiah makes mistakes? 

ok, ok... breathe deeply... I know that was really hard but... go ahead...   we're making progress here 

keep it up


now turn your attention to the part time economy, obamacare, the deficit, etc etc etc



RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@Sibir_Russia This information is not welcome to the arrogant jingoists. They think that their arrogance is an excuse to have created Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, therefore is no a big deal to form an alliance with these "FREEDOM FIGHTERS". For these jingoists, defeats don't exist in their vocabulary, only Appeasements.

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@deconstructiva Your arrogance is limitless. Who elected in the UN the USA as the avengers of all the ills of the world?. " May need intervention", you write, Why don't you intervene the Israelis, or Saudi Arabia, or, etc,? Your arrogance is sickening.

poliphobic
poliphobic

@SJH0627 @poliphobic 

A  miscalculated buff ?  Possibly not.

I think you have to fully understand that for several decades now, in fact since the end of WW2 when America became supreme among nations,  your presidents have taken it for granted that when they warn/threaten the addressees pause and take serious note. Those days have begun to slip away now, in no small part because of your recent disastrous wars. 

Mr. Ob may be starting to appreciate this.