The Conversation

Obama Administration Hesitates on Response to Syrian Attack

Despite reports that the US strongly suspected Syria had used chemical weapons in an attack that may have killed as many as 1800 people, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said today the administration was still "nailing down the facts."

Meanwhile, the administration is under growing pressure to take action. France's foreign minister said "reaction with force" may be necessary. Reuters notes a lack of action could add to a "global perception" that Obama is not decisive when it comes to the Middle East:

Obama's failure to confront Assad with the serious consequences he has long threatened would likely reinforce a global perception of a president preoccupied with domestic matters and unwilling to act decisively in the volatile Middle East, a picture already set by his mixed response to the crisis in Egypt.

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The latest Syria controversy has added to a growing perception of foreign policy troubles for Obama early in his second term. He is facing criticism for his inability to restrain Egypt's generals in their violent crackdown on Islamists and for failing to persuade Russia to extradite fugitive former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

ABC's Nightline featured an expert on chemical weapons who says video coming out of Syria is consistent with exposure to a nerve agent.


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