ABC News, trying desperately to reinforce the impression that Barack Obama has a coherent foreign policy, attempted to defend Obama’s indecision about his policy toward Syria and his unwillingness to give his term “red line” any real significance.
ABC News reports, “President Obama’s red line on Syria isn’t quite as straightforward as it’s been made out to be. The president is facing a complicated decision on Syria.”
The article explains Obama’s wavering this way:
The use of chemical weapons, itself, was not exactly Obama’s original “red line,” as he laid it out during a news conference at the White House on Aug. 20, 2012. For purposes of expediency and practicality, media outlets have simplified the “red line” as this: If Syria deployed chemical weapons against its own people, it would have crossed a threshold with the White House.
But what Obama said was a little less clear.
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” the president said a year ago last week. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
It was also unclear what the consequences of crossing that “red line” would be.
Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders announced that three hospitals in or near Damascus received 3,600 patients on Wednesday morning, 355 of whom died. Dr. Bart Janssens, the group’s director of operations, said the deaths “strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent.”
After noting that Obama is seeking approval from the U.N. for any intervention, the ABC piece goes on to give Obama every inch of wiggle room:
But despite the description of “mass exposure” to nerve gas, whether the “red line” has been crossed seemingly will depend on Obama’s interpretation of how much gas was used and may also depend on whether Obama intended his “red line” to refer to multiple attacks and large-scale movement of weapons, not just a “whole bunch” of neurotoxins deployed at once.