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Bryan Preston


April 25, 2013 - 8:47 am

On Tuesday Israel said that it had proof that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons against the rebellion. Now, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has publicly agreed.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the intelligence community believes the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its people.

The intelligence community, Hagel said, has determined with “varying degrees of confidence” that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have used the nerve agent sarin against civilians and forces fighting to remove Assad from power.

Any use of chemical weapons, Hagel said, would violate standards of warfare.

Just two days ago, Hagel disagreed with the Israeli assessment. Now, he says they’re right. This is a significant shift. In August 2012 President Obama called any Syrian use of chemical weapons a “red line” that would demand a US response. But any direct US response could have dire consequences, as Syria’s chief ally is Russia. Russia has reportedly been providing the Syrian regime with military aid, as has Iran.

Update: The White House is walking Hagel’s comments back a bit.

The U.S. intelligence community assesses with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on a small scale, the White House said on Thursday, adding however that such assessments were not enough and that “credible and corroborated” facts were needed.

“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,” Miguel Rodriguez, White House director of the office of legislative affairs, said in a letter to lawmakers.

Obama’s “red line” comment made little sense at the time he made it. His own record proved that it was an empty threat. As a senator he had opposed the war in Iraq against Saddam Hussein, who had definitely used chemical weapons against his own people. There is no American appetite for war in Syria now on either side. There is no force with which Americans would comfortably side, with the tyrant Assad on one side and al Qaeda on the other. Now the Obama White House is caught between its rhetoric and the facts, whatever they are.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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"Line in the sand" is more accurate metaphor than "red line." Lines drawn in the sand tend to vanish when the tide comes in. Then, other lines in the sand can be drawn with the same result; repeat as necessary.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"President Obama called any Syrian use of chemical weapons a “red line” that would demand a US response" this comment virtually assures that Assad will never use chemical weapons. Even in the event that he actually does...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course, the White House is going to walk this back. To do otherwise would require it to do something, and nothing is what the White House wants to do. So, present all the evidence you want, but there are none so blind as those who willfully will not look.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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