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Red lines and lies

Red lines and lies

President Obama is in the Mideast, geographically not all that far from where Bashar Assad may be using chemical weapons against his own people.

Verification of that would be a “red line” for the administration to get involved militarily—something the president wants to avoid after the debacle in Libya.  (Apparently it’s tough learning on the job that the world isn’t the White House press corps; it doesn’t get all weak-kneed at the sound of your voice.)

So this is no surprise, whether or not it’s true:

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford testified today that the Obama administration has not uncovered any evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but he warned that if the Assad regime uses or loses any of its stockpile, “there will be consequences.”

“So far we have no evidence to substantiate the reports that chemical weapons were used yesterday,” Ford testified during an ongoing hearing at the House Foreign Affairs committee in Washington.

Obama’s reluctance to get involved in Syria’s civil war is wise.  Of course, it contradicts his rationale two years ago for involvement in Libya:

Facing accusations that he has not explained the United States’ interest in Libya’s war, Obama said the nation had a responsibility to prevent a mass killing after Gaddafi pledged to carry out a brutal reprisal campaign against civilians in rebel-held territory.

Well, in Syria, the death toll is many times greater than Libya’s was when the president spoke those words: at least 70,000. Yet in Syria, the red line is WMD use.

Why the change?  It might have something to do with the fact that WMD use wasn’t a distinct possibility in Libya, given that Khadafy was so terrified of George Bush after Iraq that he voluntarily abandoned his program.

No doubt the president fears supporting a coalition effort that results in the deaths of good guys, American or not, from chemical or even biological weapons.  The political damage would be devastating.

So the redrawn red line turns out to be ironic flypaper.  If he acknowledges WMD use, he has to take action.  And action means deaths, possibly grotesque deaths, shown on American television.  Ergo, seeing no evil is a strategic necessity, no matter how many Syrians die.

We’ve been here before.  In 1994, Bill Clinton chose not to see how many Tutsis were being slaughtered by Hutus in Rwanda.

In reality the United States did much more than fail to send troops. It led a successful effort to remove most of the UN peacekeepers who were already in Rwanda. It aggressively worked to block the subsequent authorization of UN reinforcements. It refused to use its technology to jam radio broadcasts that were a crucial instrument in the coordination and perpetuation of the genocide. And even as, on average, 8,000 Rwandans were being butchered each day, U.S. officials shunned the term “genocide,” for fear of being obliged to act. The United States in fact did virtually nothing “to try to limit what occurred.” Indeed, staying out of Rwanda was an explicit U.S. policy objective.

The author of those words, which appeared in The Atlantic two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, was Samantha Power—who spent the last four years as special assistant to the president, senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council, and the foremost proponent of America’s Libyan intervention.


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Here’s another instance, Joel.

“In 1996, while serving as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Rice helped persuade President Clinton to rebuff Sudan’s offer to turn Osama bin Laden, who was then living there, over to U.S. authorities.”

[…] Obama thinks a speech to Israelis will make Israelis overthrow their leaders and embrace him. But Israelis live on the front line of the red line and they will not fall for Obama’s duplicities as easily as gullible American voters twisted […]

BannedbytheGuardian | March 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I think Libya was more ‘wanted’ by the Euros. Than the US. even today Libya has virtually no foreign debt & was thought to have tens of billions stashed away in European deposits .

When the Euros need your money they will kill you off & take over your accounts. The nice neat Swiss managed to hold on to all the deposits of European Jews & only handed over some when they were forced 60 years later. Just hoping they would all die .

Now they want Cyprus but will have to deal with the Russian Mafia.

Ghaddafi to his credit , did admit mistakes – primarily helping the IRA. but he realised that the were he absolute devil long before NE American Catholics.

Luckily. Syria does not have large foreign reserves to be stolen.

Also Euros don’t have any ammunition over after Libya.

I don’t think Israel is quite as defenseless as the Tutsis, and they definitely aren’t going to wait on outside help while they get massacred. They did that once already – didn’t work out so well. Go read about how the Allies knew about the death-camps, yet refused to do anything, include announce their existence.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to radiofreeca. | March 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Most of the camps were Arbeiten Kampfen. The immediate killings – ie people who did not even get in the door – but went straight to gas chambers – were later in the war.

    If they could put you to work then they did. Not exactly life benefits but there were survivors .

    Looking at the timeframe – just what could the allies have done? Stalin desperately wanted a third front to draw off the massive German invasion but got no joy. Germany had 19 divisions on the Eastern front , 3 in Nth Africa & only 6 in Europe. How do you propose they could have liberated them before DDay onwards? How could they get into Germany & Poland?

    The camps that were always just straight murder machines were those operated by the USTASHI. I suggest you look them up & it was not about Jews. Even the SS were horrified. Hideous Catholics who later arranged the South American escapes for their friends the SS.

      radiofreeca in reply to BannedbytheGuardian. | March 21, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Actually, you’re incorrect on that – German veterans from WW1 were being killed off in 1938, just done quietly. Plus all kinds of people in mental-health institutions. The Wannsee conference in 1943 just ramped things up to a “mass production” mode. And the Allies knew from escapees and phot-recon airplanes. But said nothing and did nothing. Even when if they’d bombed the entrance to a camp or two, they’d have caused the Germans a lot of work to try to find them all. And parachuting some supplies of cheap machine-guns would have really disrupted things. In a word, much as I hate to say it, the Allied leadership was complicit in mass murder.

      Being a ‘slave laborer’ meant death. Just because they survived does not mean there was no genocide. There are survivors of every genocide.

      Everyone knew about the Nazi killings very early on — including Roosevelt. You ought to read this.

      The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking:
      The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to radiofreeca. | March 21, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Also by midwar there were inhumane Japanese prison camps for POWs that were known but kept quiet due to morale . Nothing could be done for them either until the Japanee war machine w broken bit by bit .

    It was not just about Jewish.

Phillep Harding | March 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm

So, is Obama going to go into Syria to find the WMDs?

“Khadafy was so terrified of George Bush”.

Nobody is afraid of the Kenyan Zero … if he’s mad at you, he just won’t bow to you anymore.

Henry Hawkins | March 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

I think the problem is the color. Obama needs to draw blue lines in the sand.