Chemical Weapon Use in Syria Challenges Obama’s ‘Red Line’
(WASHINGTON) — Pressure is mounting for the Obama administration to act after obtaining evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, an act that crossed what Obama had previously called “a red line.”
“The president has laid down the line. It can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on ABC’s This Week Sunday.
He says that what Obama does next in Syria matters not just in Syria, but across the world. “[It is] more than just Syria. Iran is paying attention to this, North Korea is paying attention to this. So I think the options aren’t huge but some action needs to be taken.”
The Obama administration has made it clear that they want to avoid American boots on the ground, says ABC News Chief Political Correspondent George Stephanopoulos. Though there are other actions the United States can take, it’s unclear how effective they will be against the Assad Regime.
During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said that he believed the United States should set up a safe zone in Syria.
“A safe zone, arming the rebels, making sure that we help with the refugees, McCain suggested. He continued, saying we should “be prepared with an international force to go in and secure these stocks of chemical and perhaps biological weapons.”
That might not be so easy, explained ABC’s Martha Raddatz on This Week.
“None of that is easy. It sounds great, a safe haven, but that involves taking out anti aircraft. It involves kinetic action and it involves a great deal of risk,” Raddatz said.
“I think here you have to remember the comparison with Iraq–President Bush was looking for ways to go into Iraq. President Obama does not want to go into Syria,” she said.
McCain also noted that the concept of a “red line” might have been a mistake in the first place.
“What has happened here is the President drew red lines regarding chemical weapons thereby giving a green light to Bashir Assad to do anything short of that including scud missiles and helicopters gunships and air strikes and mass executions,” McCain said.
Whatever Obama decides to do in response to Assad crossing the “red line” by using chemical weapons, it’s not likely to happen just yet. Stephanopoulos says that the administration is verifying the intelligence to make sure that they’re positive such weapons were used before they launch any sort of response.
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