President Obama held a surprise press conference today. It was wide ranging, but in the last few minutes Obama laid down the goal posts for direct American military intervention in Syria. And it would seem we are likely headed for war as the conditions he cited have already been met.
A few quotes from the press conference:
“At this point the likelihood of a soft landing is remote.”
“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.”
“A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized, that would change my calculus, that would change my equation.”
Some Headlines from the last month:
“Syria’s Chemical Weapons Threat Demands A Response” CNN Aug. 16 2012
“Securing Syria chemical weapons may take tens of thousands of troops” Reuters Aug. 16 2012
“Israel fears Syria’s chemical weapons could be seized by Hezbollah or al-Qaida” HAARETZ July 22 2012
“Syria: Assad regime ‘ready to use chemical weapons'” BBC July 17 2012
“Syria has begun moving its chemical weapons stockpile out of storage, U.S. warns” UK Mail Online July 17 2012
“Syria Moving Parts of Chemical Arsenal, U.S. Says” NYT July 13 2012
“U.S. Concerned as Syria Moves Chemical Stockpile” WSJ July 13 2012
U.S. intervention in Syria would seem a virtual certainty since that the “Red Line” has already been crossed. Chemical stockpiles are already being moved and it has been widely reported. In fact one month ago The Guardian reported “Syrian regime makes chemical warfare threat”, saying “The Syrian regime has threatened to use its chemical and biological weapons in case of a foreign attack, in its first-ever acknowledgement that it possesses weapons of mass destruction.”
Additionally, what would the “wrong hands” for possession of chemical weapons in Syria be? They are clearly already in the wrong hands. And the waiting hands belong to al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, key powers in the opposition forces. So the answer is none of the above. Particularly since the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the White House has “calculated” is a peaceful partner in the Middle-East has begun nailing people to trees in front of the Egyptian Presidential Palace.
When answering a reporter’s question on the statement Obama was focused on the movement of chemical weapons, adding “use” almost as an addendum. Clearly Obama has made a statement that leaves the door open for war with Syria at his whim. Missing from the statement was any kind of plan for a post-Assad transition. And what, if any, involvement the U.S. would have in shaping that government.
So what has changed in the last month? The Obama campaign. President Bush Sr. held the highest approval rate for any post-WW2 president, 80%. The invasion of Afghanistan had an approval rate of 90%, and Iraq 83%. A good war can also be good for business in the White House.