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Trump Blames Syrian Attack on Obama for Not Sticking to his ‘Red Line’

Trump Blames Syrian Attack on Obama for Not Sticking to his ‘Red Line’

Obama drew a red line with Syria in 2012 but did nothing substantial after chemical attacks occurred.

On Tuesday, almost 60 people died in Syria after warplanes dropped bombs filled with chemicals. The number includes women and children. Many suspect President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the attack.

President Donald Trump condemned the attack, but also ripped into former President Barack Obama for not sticking to his “red line” on Syria:

“Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people including women and children is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

“These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” he added. “President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ’red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.”

Trump’s Line

Trump spoke to reporters on Wednesday about the attack, stating that it “crossed a lot of lines” for him:

“I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly,” Trump said responding to a question about a White House statement Tuesday that blamed the attack in part on President Barack Obama.

“It is now my responsibility. It was a great opportunity missed,” Trump said.

Trump did maintain that Obama’s failure to respond to his red line threat “was a blank threat (that) set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world.”

The President condemned the attack as “heinous.”

“Yesterday’s chemical attack, a chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies, their deaths were an affront to humanity,” Trump said from the Rose Garden. “These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks, for that matter.”

However, Trump did not offer specifics on how the U.S. will confront Syria:

“You will see,” Trump said when asked if he would take new action, according to pool reporters present when Trump welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah to the Oval Office.

“These are very troubled times in the Middle East, and we see what happened just recently yesterday in Syria — horrible. Horrible, horrible thing. Unspeakable,” Trump said, later calling it a “terrible affront to humanity.”

The Red Line

In August 2012, then-President Obama considered chemical attacks in Syria a “red line” for the regime:

“What I’m saying is we’re monitoring that situation very carefully,” Obama said in a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room.

But if the Assad regime were to use its weapons stockpiles, or alternatively, move it around, Obama suggested military action could be on the table.

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

Obama also told NBC News that the United States had “communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made similar remarks:

“Both the minister [Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu] and I saw eye to eye on the many tasks that are ahead of us, and the kinds of contingencies that we have to plan for, including the one you mentioned in the horrible event that chemical weapons were used. And everyone has made it clear to the Syrian regime that is a red line for the world,” Clinton said at the time.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta even admitted that Obama’s inaction after the Syrian regime crossed the red line hurt America’s reputation:

Chemical Attacks in Syria

A chemical attack in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, Syria, killed 26 people in injured 86 more. Of course, the Syrian regime and opposition blamed each other for the attack. The UN report on this situation did not identify the culprit.

Rockets containing the chemical agent sarin hit Ghouta, Syria, in August 2013. The attack killed between 350 and 1,400 people. The opposition blamed the Syrian regime while the regime blamed the opposition. The United Nations stated that “[T]he perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents.”

Remember the red line Obama mentioned? Well, U.S. officials claimed they had proof that Assad’s regime caused the attack and it did indeed cross the red line. Obama offered to send more support to the opposition but didn’t get into specifics.

In August of that year, Obama said he would go to Congress and ask “for authorization to carry out punitive strikes against the Syrian government, but appears to lack the necessary support in the legislature.” Instead, the U.S. and Moscow came to an agreement that Syria should “destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.” The UN Security Council agreed, but stated that it would “authorize the use of force in the event of non-compliance.”


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I saw some comments on a twitter account (K.Schlichter) and they raise some issues…

1) Do Americans want another war?
2) Are we unified for war?
3) What’s the endgame?
4) Is it worth US lives?
5) Who would we want to replace Assad?
6) Are we prepared for an open war with Russia?
7) Are we prepared for what’s needed after we win?

I do like Trump’s attitude that we are not going to announce when we are going in – and we shouldn’t tell them when we are going to leave.

    Tom Servo in reply to Liz. | April 5, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    First off, Trump’s statement is quite factually true. Obama’s actions convinced Assad there was no price to pay for doing this.

    Those are good questions, and I think the answers are obvious:

    1) Do Americans want another war? A) NO
    2) Are we unified for war? A) NO
    3) What’s the endgame? A) Endgame? What’s that?
    4) Is it worth US lives? A) NO
    5) Who would we want to replace Assad? A) Chelsea Clinton?
    6) Are we prepared for an open war with Russia? A) NO
    7) Are we prepared for what’s needed after we win? A) NO

      MattMusson in reply to Tom Servo. | April 5, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      Amen Brother!

      Besides, we still do not know who used the Chemical weapons. Is it possible they were old weapons being stored that were hit by a bomb? There does not appear to be any military significance that would encourage anyone to use them.

      This is not an excuse to go to war.

      Liz in reply to Tom Servo. | April 5, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      I took the “end game” question to ask if we are going in briefly to punish for the chemical attack, to do a regime change, to establish a permanent base in the area, or why?

      I agree that these questions are all valid and need to be answered especially by those people who will cry that we have to do something. I don’t want to be pushed into a war by the bleeding hearts who will then start whining that the US is mean, oil grabbing, etc.

      Trump should get a renewal of the authorization to go to war – make the Ds own any retaliation action.

        Tom Servo in reply to Liz. | April 5, 2017 at 5:24 pm

        heh – I took the “Endgame” answer as emblematic of the US attitude towards every military adventure we’ve been involved in over the last 30 years.

buckeyeminuteman | April 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm

The enormous consequences of Obama’s inaction in the Middle East are multi-faceted. Not only were chemical weapons used, but ISIS grew and took over large areas of territory. The consequence of that is the millions of Muslims who have left for Europe; some legitimate refugees but mostly opportunist, military-aged males. We all know how that is working out for the average European who doesn’t have the benefit of residing in the German Federal Chancellery.

    Obama did do one thing – took us out of the area too soon and therefore leaving the void in leadership. The result is the growth of ISIS.

    Heck, we still have a presence in Germany, Korea and Japan.

I have nephews who are active military. HELL NO to sending them to fight and die for these people.

We can troll through the refugee pools and find all the military age men leaving the region and solve two problems at once.

We don’t even know if Assad used the chemicals. Eva Bartlett at the UN Press Conference schooling a Norwegian journalist on why the mainstream media lies about Syria:

I don’t think Assad gassed anyone, there was nothing to gain and everything to lose, something else is going on.
McCrazy was there just 2 weeks ago, I don’t trust him… as the song goes, he’s come undone.

I don’t know who is advising the President, but they are going to get him into hot water again.

Here we have an incident about which we know very little. We do not know who was responsible for the release of the gas. We do not even know what the extent of the incident was, or if it really occurred at all. One has to remember that all of the “monitoring” and information sources in “rebel” controlled areas in Syria are controlled by or sympathetic to the “rebels”. So, their information has to be verified from reliable sources. We have found this out from places like Aleppo, after the “rebel forces” were driven out. And, no one has put forward any logical reason why Assad would use chemical weapons with the UN Security Council “agreement” hanging over his head.

Second, do we really want to get into a shooting war over Syria? It would be one thing if we knew that Syria had attacked another sovereign nation, especially one with which we had relations. But this is both internal and the perpetrators are largely unknown. And it has to be remembered that we are already in Syria in violation of international law and that we have violated international law on at least three prior occasions by overflying the country without permission, bombing Syrian ground troop [not in self defense] and by arming groups who were in revolt against a legitimate sovereign government. We are standing on quicksand, both legally and morally.

So what can Trump do here? Pretty much what Obama did, nothing. This will come back to haunt him, just as it did Obama.

“Potemkin Village”

Connivin Caniff | April 6, 2017 at 4:54 am

Trump’s recent actions are very close to restricting us to one primary question: Is Trump a knave or a fool?