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White House Wants Syria ‘Red Line’ to Be Determined by UN

Despite that body's schooling on what a red line means, lawmakers are livid about the message Obama's sending.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

April 25, 2013 - 8:17 pm
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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said it’s “important that we read the intelligence as it is laid out, not as we would like it to be.”

“President Obama correctly said that Syria’s use of chemical weapons would be a red line for the United States. Now that we have confirmed their use, the question is what is our plan for transition to a post-Assad Syria?” Rogers said. “I have laid out several steps, short of boots on the ground. The world is waiting for American leadership.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said “the time for passive engagement in this conflict must come to an end.”

“It’s clear the ‘red line’ drawn by President Obama has now been crossed,” Rubio said. “…I urge President Obama to explain to Congress and the American people how he will ensure Syria’s chemical and biological weapons stockpiles are secured, how we’ll work with our allies to prevent further use of these deadly weapons, and what additional measures he is ready to take to follow through on his previous statements.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce noted that if Obama wanted international confirmation, the French and British have already ascertained that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons.

“Tomorrow, I will be briefed on the Syria situation by Secretary Kerry,” Royce said. “At that briefing, I will ask the secretary to explain the administration’s new plans in Syria.”

Some Democrats, though, were willing to give Obama some breathing room on the definition of red line and urged a careful international response.

“Based on the intelligence that we have, it appears that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people. If true, this is a sad and worrisome development in an ongoing humanitarian crisis,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member on the Armed Services Committee. “We must work with our partners in the region and the international community to confirm beyond a doubt that chemical weapons were in fact used and, if so, determine who used them and when. The seriousness of the situation dictates a thorough and thoughtful approach.”

“The Syrian people deserve the right to live free of tyranny and oppression and the United States must continue to be a force for good in the world,” Smith added. “I encourage the administration to take the time necessary to confirm what has taken place and to develop an appropriate response.”

Even some liberals, though, criticized a failing policy and White House wordplay.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said “the time has come for a new policy,” as the current path “is no longer strategically or morally sustainable.”

“Syria today is the scene of some of the worst state-sponsored violence since Milosevic’s war crimes in the Balkans,” Jackson Lee said. “What is all the more astonishing is that Dr. Assad’s killing spree has continued despite severe and escalating international pressure against him. Despite a year’s worth of diplomacy backed by sanctions, Assad and his lieutenants show no signs of giving up. To the contrary, they appear to be accelerating their fight to the finish.”

“…The Syrian people deserve a chance at freedom, and shame on us if we fail to help them now in their moment of greatest need.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez, who was expected to be harder on administration parsing than his predecessor John Kerry, said there’s no question that the red line has been crossed.

“The Assad regime has crossed a red line by using chemical weapons, which forces us to consider all options as to how we act to influence the balance of the conflict. Among these options would be the enforcement of an internationally-recognized no-fly zone, providing lethal assistance to vetted opposition forces, and sanctioning the transfer of arms to the regime,” he said.

“The greatest humanitarian crisis in the world exists in and around Syria. It is clear that we must act to assure the fall of Assad, the defeat of extremist groups, and the rise of democracy,” Menendez added. “We must do everything possible to prevent the regime’s use of chemical weapons and to ensure those stockpiles are secure.”

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (32)
All Comments   (32)
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There are no WMDs. I repeat. There are no WMDs. It is Karl Rove pulling strings in some way no one can say but everyone is certain of.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why does the line have to be red?

I mean what does the color of the line have to do with the crossing thereof? I say we call a Congressional Committee to investigate the possible preferential treatment of red lines by the Obama administration and Americans in general. I also think we need to enact legislation that ensures and end to "red line priviledge" and ensures that other color lines have equal opportunity to be crossed!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's really just racist, anti-Native American code. Elizabeth Warren should get right on it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The best decision in my opinion Obama has ever made punting this back to the UN let their blue helmets handle this and nothing would be sweeter than UN officials and blue helmets getting gassed in and by the Syrian's in their drive to eradicate Syrian's from the face of the earth.
Screw Syria one side is the same as the other and just as bad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, of course.
Outsourcing to the UN was a prime plank in John Kerry's (BTW, did you know he served in Vietnam?) '04 Presidential Campaign.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What? Somebody expected Prezident Stompy Foot to do something besides talk? Where have they been living?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments are not alone sufficient."

Is he takling about Iraq? Or Benghazi? Or Boston?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Shelia Jackson Lee gives credence to the fact that leftist ideology creates an 'idea' to address an issue or problem. Here they go AGAIN: we need a 'new' policy. Create a new idea from their ideology AND when it doesn't pan out, well, we can create another new and improved idea. On and on it goes and where it stops NOBODY knows! Living in the reality of the of the solution (leftists live in an alternate universe, I'm convinced) should be first and foremost.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no firm evidence that Assad has used chemical weapons. There is no firm evidence of an Islamist connection in the Boston bombings. The so called "attack" in Benghazi was merely a peaceful demonstration protesting a video that spun out of control. The Fort Hood shootings resulted from the temporary derangement of an American officer and gentleman.

There are no red lines anywhere. Nothing on the horizon but clear blue sky.





1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Red line? Like the one we have on the southern border? One of THOSE kinds of lines. Wouldn't it be racist to draw a line?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hey, there's a bright Red Line here in Los Angeles - it runs from Downtown to The Valley! And, it gets crossed all the time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
American presidents are required to get approval from Congress for all military action except for raids and reprisals by the Constitution. Presidents often played fast and loose with that but it really picked up after FDR. Congress went along and passed laws giving the president more and more authority to use the military.

The people didn't like that so much, so presidents starting seeking "Coalitions of the Willing" and getting UN approval. Obama is simply taking this to the next step. Already 200 troops are in Jordan paving the way for 20,000 more. If Obama gets UN approval he can try to put the blame off on the UN. After all, sending a mere 20,000 troops, or about 2,000 combat troops, into the Syrian hotbed with no direct line of retreat (they will be supplied by expensive air bridge through Syria and not be sea) could very easily end badly.

Aside from that, we see how well the Arab Spring is turning out and clearly very radical elements will be taking over in Syria once Assad is gone. Obama will try to pawn off all that will follow on the UN rather than himself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
But when it all goes to hell, it will be Bush's fault!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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