Peace and Freedom Commentary
Last week we spoke to several U.S. military men and women with intimate familiarity with the situation in Syria.
Most of the mainstream news still covers Syria — but not in a very aggressive way any more.
We spoke at length to one U.S. senior officer who just visited the Aleppo area of Syria. He talked about the mounting civilian death toll, the lack of humanitarian aid and water, and the breakdown of rescue and medical systems. He said Russia and Syria here using incendiary bombs, cluster bombs and perhaps even chemical weapons.
I asked him for his honest opinion on President Obama’s “red line” and what has happened since President Obama failed to enforce his “red line.”
“With that one decision, President Obama unleashed hell,” the senior U.S. officer told us.
“Russia came in on Assad’s side in a big way. Obama said Putin would wind up in a quagmire. That didn’t happen. Syria is now mostly ruined. Refugees have headed out into the world by the thousands with no idea where to go or how to get there. People are dying today in Aleppo because of the failure of America — and specifically the President of the United States. Sometimes, failure to act is the worst possible thing in the world to do.”
“And Assad is still using chemical weapons, our testing tells us. We gained nothing and we lost it all.”
“And the refugee migration problem was a completely avoidable, unforced error that will have repercussions for decades to come.”
“The President Blinked”: Why Obama Changed Course on the “Red Line” in Syria
By PATRICE TADDONIO
May 25, 2015
President Obama pauses while speaking in the White House briefing room on Aug. 20, 2012. In his remarks, the president said use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line.” (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
In August of 2013, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus was attacked with sarin gas — a nerve agent that causes lung muscle paralysis and results in death from suffocation.
The attack killed 1,400 men, women and children, and at the White House, officials asserted “with high confidence” that the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible.
One year earlier, President Barack Obama had described Assad’s potential use of chemical weapons as “a red line” that would have “enormous consequences” and “change my calculus” on American military intervention in Syria’s civil war.
When Assad appeared to cross that line, Obama ordered the Pentagon to prepare to attack.
“Our finger was on the trigger,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells veteran FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith in tomorrow’s new documentary, Obama at War. “We had everything in place and we were just waiting for instructions to proceed.”
But as FRONTLINE details in the below excerpt from Obama at War, the president had second thoughts.
“The president was looking for a way to not have to make good on the threat that he had made,” Col. Andrew Bacevich (Ret.), author of The Limits of Power, tells FRONTLINE. “I think because the president having drawn that red line realized that he had no appetite for direct military engagement in Syria.”
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Tags: Assad, chemical weapons, cluster bombs, incendiary bombs, migrant crisis, migrants, Obama, Obama unleashed hell. We gained nothing and lost it all, Obama's red line, President of the United States, Putin, Putin would wind up in a quagmire, refugees, Russia, Syria, United States, What Happened After President Obama Failed To Support His Own Red Line in Syria