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Obama Meekly Shifts his “Red Line” on Syria

by Keith Koffler on December 7, 2012, 5:36 pm

So much for President Obama’s “red lines,” warnings to Iran that “I don’t bluff,” and any other bluster emanating from the West Wing.

Turns out the president lacks credibility when he plays the tough guy. Israel should be nervous.

In a New York Times piece, David Sanger notes that Obama conveniently erased his red line on Syria and moved it – well, somewhere.

Here’s what he said August 20:

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.

Well, chemical weapons are “moving around” in Syria, and Obama still seems to be doing his calculus. The witches and warlocks of the Damascus regime are bent over their cauldrons mixing up batches of nasty stuff to use against their own people.

A White House spokesman says by “moving around,” Obama meant moving the weapons to extremist groups like Hezbollah. Not likely, suggests Sanger:

When Mr. Obama warned against moving chemical weapons, administration officials said he did not mean shifting the weapons from one site to another, which has happened several times, but preparing them for use. But in recent days, that is exactly what intelligence agencies fear has happened.

I suppose Obama wants now to wait until a few thousand Syrians have experienced excruciating deaths at the hands of these weapons before acting.

And perhaps we’ll deprive Iran of its nuclear weapons after Tel Aviv has found itself on the wrong end of a nuclear armed medium-range missle.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Guillermo Grande December 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm

In a statement about a statement, the White House issues a strong statement today… More blather. Elections do have consequences it would seem.

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srdem65 December 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

For once, I’m with the President; get out the eraser and remove the red line.
Let the big talkers at the UN take on Assad, while we assume the same concern as the Swedes or Brazil and mind our own business.
It’s time we concentrate on our friends and let our enemies fight it out among themselves.

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Otis Driftwood December 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm

we of course have no idea how well he can handle Calculus, since he has never opened his school records.

“Turns out the president lacks credibility when he plays the tough guy.” damn straight Keith! I have yet to see anything credible out of Mr. O.

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cincycinco December 8, 2012 at 8:08 am

“Turns out the president lacks credibility when he plays the tough guy.” – Keith Koffler

Hmm. Maybe the Republicans should think about this in their “fiscal Cliff” negotiations. Remember, even Julius Caesar would act the strongest when he was trying to conceal a weakness…

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Jeff December 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm

absolutely not, between us Turkey and Israel n France it can be managed with a small footprint and maybe we can kill a few extra of the hardcore bunch at the same time..Im sorry but a confrontation is coming with Iran, prolly in the next 6 months, if we can knock Syria out of the game now, it makes the job easier in a few months..Im not being a warmonger either..This is the deadly reality of the way things are

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Not Nabob December 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I have iterated and now reiterate, Obama doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to make any sense to stop the Syrian madness. Iran, China, and Russia would probably squash the little manchild.

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cincycinco December 8, 2012 at 8:09 am

Vladimir Spank?

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Susan December 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm

“A White House spokesman says by “moving around,” Obama meant moving the weapons to extremist groups like Hezbollah.”

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” ~ BJ Clinton

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Not Nabob December 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Is is, is Si si backwards. Just like the clowns that are ruining (sic) this country.

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Girly1 December 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

When Obama speaks, no one listens. Unless he is battering Republicans, he is completely impotent – the impotent potentate.

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Not Nabob December 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Impotent? He sure has impregnated this great country with many unwanted policies.

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cincycinco December 8, 2012 at 8:20 am

“He sure has impregnated this great country with many unwanted policies.” – Not Nabob

Remeber the “Vote Virgin” ad?

“Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy, It’s super uncool to be out and about and someone says ‘did you vote?’ and [you reply] ‘no, I didn’t feel — I wasn’t ready.’”

http://washingtonexaminer.com/obamas-virgin-voter-ad-mocks-girls-who-turn-down-sex-because-theyre-not-ready/article/2511804

Yeah, if that special someone refuses to wear a condom, has a very loose sexual history with far more partners – of both sexes – than doctor visits, and promises to call you in the morning…

Tell me, America. Does he still respect you?

In fairness to Obama (and God knows he worries about fairness!), it probably can be truly said he respect America as much now as he did the night before the erecti – uh, “election”. That says a lot about what he thought of us to begin with, nicht wahr?

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Julie Brueckheimer December 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Obama knows he does not have money for yet another war, and unfortunately the Islamic terrorists and Middle Eastern countries who support these thugs also know this. I fear for Israel: the US which has been its one true supporter is backing away and letting it stand alone.

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gracepmc December 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Obama will do exactly what ValJar tells him to do.

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Francesca December 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Obama is talking about his calculus when he can’t even do middle school math? Good grief.

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Swedishlady December 8, 2012 at 6:10 am

I think the west should stay away from this conflict. The culture in the MidEast is so different from ours. Look at what´s happening in Egypt. The “Arabic spring ” hatched political islam and dictatorship. I am just as appalled by the violent Syrian (??) “rebels” as of the government forces. But if those rebels grab power Syria will be another unpredictable islamist country in our neighborhood. At least Assad keeps them in check. However, whatever happens we will have to deal with it then. Because of the wars Europe is flooded with Muslims including several islamist troublemakers. The problems with assimilation is constantly in the debates although a political correct media tries to censur and filter. In my country a new poilitical party is on strong rise ( it was elected to the Riksdag) with one major issue on the agenda: reformation of the extremely expensive immigrant and asylum policy.

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Car in December 8, 2012 at 8:34 am

Oh this is just terrible.

Is it golf-able weather today in DC?

I’m asking for a friend the POTUS.

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Michael December 8, 2012 at 9:58 am

No doubt that his view on this is still evolving…

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WNY_ROC December 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Anyone remember “Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people on this,” the president said, according to both Cantor and another attendee?

And now So much for President Obama’s “red lines,” warnings to Iran that “I don’t bluff,” and any other bluster emanating from the West Wing.

Does he bluff, or doesn’t he. I’m so confuse!

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Trochilus December 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Recall if you will that his oddly “folksy” “red line” was drawn back during the summer doldrums of this year when a) he was actively running for reelection; and b) there was also a very real and nasty regional fight building at the time, one that had arisen out of Gaza, which involved existential threats of a kind that might also prompt a sudden act of desperation by a party or parties under the gun. It was also one in which very real missiles were also being launched against very real civilian targets.

His comment was made on August 20th to be exact, during an extremely rare and hastily drawn Press Conference. Judging from the depth of content of the subjects, it looks suspiciously like it was held in lieu of a series of campaign appearances.

Only one of the purposes seems to have been for the opportunity of drawing that red line, and it seems pretty clearly to have been as a way of assuring voters concerned with the safety of our allies in the region — such as Israel — that we were mindful of the necessity of ensuring that chemical weapons did not somehow fall into the hands of those who were much more likely to actually try and use them, and not, I might add, against their own people . . . say, Hezbollah.

In drawing that red line back in August, note that Obama left himself another rhetorical escape hatch in responding to the second part of the two-part question which was dutifully fed to him for clarification by NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Obama included in his answer a rhetorical escape hatch that is actually a little bigger than the one he is currently retreating under.

Let me explain. To date, he has only given us his Clintonian definition of “moving around” in order to slightly retreat from having to actually do something — to follow through on his threat. Now, I’m not knocking the guy for failing to act hastily, by the way. Acting to contain the “movement” of chemical weapons is an alarming prospect to say the least, and when that prospect would at some point include sending American troops in to secure the situation, no one expects the President to act precipitously.

But as you’ve said, Keith, it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that his latest use of the phrase “moving around” is one that does not exactly comport with the ordinary understanding of the phrase!

My point is that he has a second readily available retreat line he can go to as well, one that gives him “a whole bunch” of flexibility. And there you have it. The original redline was as phrased as follows:

“I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.

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. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

You really do have to wonder, under the circumstances, what his meaning of “a whole bunch” is?

Thinking about that should make anyone very nervous, but especially the Israelis!

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