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LEON: Obama's Irresponsible Rhetoric Exacerbates Global Tensions

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III | 9/11/2013, 3 p.m.
President Obama talks with advisers in the Oval Office on Sept. 10, 2013. Attendees include (from left) Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Adviser; Phil Gordon, White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region; National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice; and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Pete Souza/White House)

“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…That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.” — President Obama, Aug. 20, 2012

It is now generally accepted as fact that on Aug. 21, 2013, a nerve agent, probably sarin gas was used on the Syrian civilian population. According to Dr. Bart Janssens, from Doctors Without Borders, “[T]he reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events – characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers – strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent…convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress…”

What is not known is who is responsible for the chemical attack. The United States has placed the blame on the Assad regime. President Obama stated, “…the United States (has) presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people. Our intelligence shows the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place.”

Other credible sources believe that the case against the Assad regime is not as former CIA director George Tenet said about WMD’s in Iraq, a “slam dunk.” According to the Times of Israel, “The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no “slam dunk,” with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike, U.S. intelligence officials say.”

There are conflicting perceptions of reality and requisite action or response. President Obama claims that chemical weapons have been used; the U.S. claims that it has evidence that the Assad regime used them; ergo military intervention (airstrikes) must be the response by the “International Community.” Other countries such as Germany, Russia, China, and Britain agree that chemical weapons have been used but don’t agree that the US “evidence” that Assad used them is as conclusive as the US claims. Also, other countries don’t agree that even if Assad used chemical weapons a military response is the best response. A military response could actually exacerbate the situation not make it better.

President Obama has stated a number of times that the “world” is aghast at the use of chemical weapons. He called the Syrian attack a "challenge to the world". He is also claiming that he did not set the “red line.” In Sweden he stated, ‘‘I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line…‘The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of world population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent.’’