President Obama warned the regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels. Obama said such usage would be a "game changer", that a "red line" would be crossed if Assad used WMD.
Now, it appears Assad has used WMD. Both British and US intelligence say they have evidence of Assad's use of chemical weapons. If this is true, Obama's line in the sand has been crossed. Here's a statement from the White House:
"Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin. This assessment is based in part on physiological samples. Our standard of evidence must build on these intelligence assessments as we seek to establish credible and corroborated facts. ...
"Given the stakes involved, and what we have learned from our own recent experiences, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient — only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision-making ...
The "physiological samples" the Whiite House is talking about are commonly known as dead bodies.
The Free Syrian Army (opposition to the Assad government) criticized the White House's statement, saying there is no doubt Assad has used chemical weapons:
"Small scale? Varying degrees of confidence? The leaders of the Free Syrian Army are certain that chemical weapons are being used in Syria, so we find this whole statement odd,...We've noticed that the American administration only works according to its own needs,...We've started to believe that there is a conspiracy in the West to support the regime in its quest to oppress the Syrian people,...But if Washington 'truly' wants to help Syria, it will use this finding to start arming the Syrian rebels".
Welcome to the Middle East. No matter what America does or doesn't do, we end up being blamed.
My prediction is, if Assad's chemical weapons usage is corroborated, we will be at war with Syria. Not an all-out invasion type of war like iraq, but war nonetheless. Something along the lines of Libya, with UN backing. The White House referred to "the stakes involved" here. When those stakes include chemical weapons possibly falling into the wrong hands, the Obama administration will not turn a blind eye.
However, there's a big problem. In Syria, as with so much of the Middle East, defining the "wrong hands" for WMD is tricky business. As we already know, the Syrian rebels, who we officially support, include anti-American factions such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda allied groups. Those are the ultimate "wrong hands" to acquire chemical weapons, because they could end up being used against America and/or Israel. If we help overthrow Assad only to see the Isalmists rise to power in Syria, it would be hard to call that an improvement. Imagine nerve gas being released at the Boston Marathon finish line instead of homemade bombs. The thought is almost too horrific to contemplate.
Here is a link to Syria's chemical weapons history. Within Syria's WMD history is a link back to Saddam's WMD, those WMD stockpiles that we all remember were not found during the American invasion of Iraq. However, there were a few things our media conveniently left out of it's narrative. Check this out:
In 2003 the US, Britain and others went to war in Iraq to make the world safe from Saddam Hussein and his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Ever since, however, we have been told that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the proof of that is that none was ever found – surely one of the most profoundly illogical and imbecilic formulations ever to have fallen from human lips.
At the time, however, there were a number of reports that enormous truck movements across the border from Iraq into Syria suggested that some of these WMD had been moved there. Saddam’s Air Vice-Marshal Georges Sada, whom I interviewed, said he was absolutely certain that WMD had been moved from Iraq to Syria. All of this was however brushed aside for, as the bien pensant world has never stopped intoning with positively religious fervour, ‘we were taken to war in Iraq on a lie’...two official reports – Duelfer and Carnegie in 2004 – that supposedly exonerated Saddam of still having WMD by the outbreak of war ignored much information that indicated the smuggling of chemical and biological weapons from Iraq into Syria...In October 2003, the US intelligence community publicly pointed for the first time to transfers of WMD from Iraq to Syria. The Director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, James Clapper, said it linked the disappearance of Iraqi WMD with the huge number of Iraqi trucks entering Syria before and during the US invasion; based on satellite imagery, it assessed that these trucks contained missiles and WMD components...captured Iraqi documents record that the Russian ‘spetsnaz’ moved many of Saddam’s weapons and related goods, including chemicals used to make chemical weapons plus missile components and MIG jet parts, out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the 2003 invasion.
There's more evidence, but you get the picture. Things aren't always so simple as they'd have you believe, but "Bush lied" is an easier concept to grasp onto, I guess.
WMD threats. We're back to that. All that is old is new again. But now that I think about it, the threat was never old or non-existent, it was just swept under the rug for a bit.
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