Obama gives himself a pass for ‘red line’ speech on Syria

by WorldTribune Staff, January 16, 2017

U.S. President Barack Obama says he has no regrets over his speech in 2012 in which he drew a “red line” over Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” broadcast on Jan 15, Obama said that he had ad-libbed the “red line” phrase, which wasn’t in the text of his speech.

In August 2012, President Barack Obama declared the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a ‘red line’.

“I don’t regret at all saying that if I saw (Syrian President) Bashar Assad using chemical weapons on his people that that would change my assessments in terms of what we were or were not willing to do in Syria,” Obama said.

Challenged by “60 Minutes” interviewer Steve Kroft that “you didn’t say that … you said – you drew the red line,” Obama declined to say whether he would take it back.

“I think I would have made a bigger mistake if I had said, ‘Eh, chemical weapons. That doesn’t really change my calculus.’ ”

“I think it was important for me as president of the United States to send a message that in fact there is something different about chemical weapons,” Obama added. “And regardless of how it ended up playing, I think in the Beltway, what is true is Assad got rid of his chemical weapons.”

In 2013, Assad regime forces used chemical weapons in an attack against rebel-controlled areas of Damascus, killing nearly 1,500 civilians, including more than 400 children.

As the United States was preparing to enforce Obama’s “red line” with airstrikes against the Syrian government, Washington instead agreed to a last-minute, Moscow-brokered deal to send Syrian chemical weapons to Russia.

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