Obama’s ‘Red Line’ For Syria, But Not for Iran

Pages: 1 2

On August 20, US President Barack Obama held an impromptu news conference after reports surfaced that Syrian President Bashar Assad was moving his country’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

Obama publicly issued this warning: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime…that ared line for us is [when] we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.”

Obama then implied he would intervene militarily if the delineated threshold was crossed, cautioning of “enormous consequences” if Assad did not heed his words. He also stated that while he had refrained up to “this point” from ordering troops into Syria, the deployment of chemical weapons “would change [his] calculations significantly.”

Fast forward to September 9, less than three weeks later. Following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s appeal to the international community to set limits on Iran’s nuclear progress, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bluntly retorted: “We’re not setting deadlines.” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland elaborated the next day, “it is not useful to be…setting deadlines one way or the other [or] red lines.”

The inconsistency is striking: According to the Obama administration, it is appropriate, even beneficial, to delineate “red lines” on Syria, but not Iran.

And to prove there is no disconnect between Clinton’s statements and the US president’s Iran policy—given that Obama himself did not weigh in on Iran as he did on Syria, which itself is telling—consider her remarks on August 11, ten days before Obama’s Syria comments, which prove they are on the same page: “Everyone has made it clear to the Syrian regime that [the use of chemical weapons is] a red line,” Clinton revealed during a press conference in Turkey.

So what exactly is going on here?

Ultimatums are productive only when the corresponding threat is credible. In other words, because Obama apparently is prepared to go to war in Syria to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons, he is ready to state so definitively. That the same rule does not apply in the case of Iran, however, suggests that Obama is not willing to confront the Mullahs militarily, despite his repeated affirmations that “all options are on the table.”

In fact, that Obama’s strongest declaration to date on Iran’s nuclear program is that he reserves the right to use force to stop it—as if this is not rhetorical given his role as commander-in-chief—further reinforces this impression. Moreover, just because an option is lying around on a table somewhere does not entail that such recourse will be implemented or even that it is seriously being considered.

Obama’s vagueness on the matter speaks for itself.

Pages: 1 2

  • Gamaliel

    Israel had to know if Obama was serious which is why they had to insist on red lines. Obama proved he was not. So now Israel has to go it alone. Israel can't warn the U.S. in advance or the U.S. will interfere. In addition Israel won't have American help which will make the operation more dangerous and less likely to succeed.

  • Schlomotion

    Iran should go nuclear. Israel is now parading around with submarines with nuclear weapons. They are not signatories to the Nonproliferation Treaty. They do not permit IAEA inspections.

    We should honor the 1976 Symington Amendment and the 1977 Glenn Amendment and stop all economic and military assistance to Israel since it is in violation. Otherwise, we should look the other way for Iran too, and let them balance out the nuclear threatening and posturing in the region.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      You should get a job driving a nuclear scientist to work in Iran.

  • Poupic

    Only when it is the Jewish state that is the target of a nuclear bomb does anti- Semite Obama refuse to set up a red line. He did it in the Gulf of Oman if blocked, if mined, if the US fleet is attacked and in Syria if the Salafi’s against Assad are gassed by Assad. I will vote in November to replace anti- Semite Obama.

  • Ghostwriter

    Are you an idiot or what,Schlobrain? Iran has repeatedly said it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth,but that's perfectly alright with you,because the majority of Israelis are Jews and to you,Jews have no right to exist. Why don't you say what you really feel,that Iran should cause a second Holocaust simply because you share the same hatred of Jews that they do.

  • watsa46

    The fall of Assad will be a major blow to Iran. Schlomotion is apparently a fanatic too. Welcome to the Iranian Mullah's club.

    • Nigel

      But it won't. The Iranian regime has said it is happy to work with whoever ends up in power in Syria. Furthermore, Iran recently hailed Morsi's call for a "conference" on Syria – the same Morsi who calls for Assad to step aside.

      Obama's position on Iran should come as no surprise to anyone who realises that the US Establishment sponsors and supports the Iranian regime – the hostile words between them are purely for theatrical purposes. See http://www.hirhome.com/iraniraq/guide-iraniraq.ht… for documented details.

  • Asher

    Several people on websites were making the comment, So Who cares about Israel. They are implying they don't think anything should be done about Iran. You can see that Obama's policies are still all about warring with other Muslim tribes (against Assad) continually causing chaos and division. The Leopard never changes its spots…and keeps the peoples in bondage, just like they have for thousands of years. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and getting the same abysmal results.