Obama Questions Origins of Chemical Weapons Used in Syria

Julie Pace — AP April 30, 2013

President Barack Obama strongly suggested Tuesday he’d consider military action against Syria if it can be confirmed that President Bashar Assad’s government used chemical weapons in the two-year-old civil war.

At a White House news conference, the president also defended the FBI in regard to its efforts before the deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon two weeks ago.

Asked about Syria, the president said that while there is evidence that chemical weapons were used inside the country, “we don’t know when they were used, how they were used. We don’t know who used them. We don’t have a chain of custody that establishes” exactly what happened.

If it can be established that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, he added, “we would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us.”

“Obviously there are options to me that are on the shelf right now that we have not deployed,” he said, noting that he had asked Pentagon planners last year for additional possibilities.


Comment — April 30, 2013

President Obama had earlier described the potential use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces as a possible “red line” for western military intervention in the conflict.
Now it appears that the “red line” has been reached with emergence of evidence suggesting the use of chemical weapons.
At a hastily convened White House press conference on Tuesday, President Obama said that if proven the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict would be “a game changer“, not only for the U.S. but for the international community too.
Obama’s reference to the “international community” obviously excludes Russia, China and Iran. Nonetheless the implications are clear. If confirmed the use of such weapons may be enough to justify military intervention in Syria.
Possibly with an international military coalition, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Of course this will be done based on “humanitarian concerns” for the “Syrian people”; just as his predecessors used similar grounds for military intervention in Iraq — and we all know the “humanitarian benefits” that brought.
Unlike Iraq and claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction however, the evidence is now being evaluated methodically and thoroughly. Or at least, that’s the impression the White House seems to be trying to convey.
It has to. Western leaders know that after Iraq the public is more than a little sceptical about such claims. So Obama appears to be laying the groundwork for possible intervention in Syria much more carefully and judiciously.
No matter that covert operatives may be fabricating the very “evidence” he speaks of. This is political theatre and like actors everywhere Obama has to convince the public with fine words and convincing props.
So much now depends on whether Obama can provide a convincing case for military intervention in Syria.
Does he look convincing and sincere enough when he presents the ‘evidence’? Even if he knows that it has been fabricated?
This is what Western democracy has now been reduced to. Little more than a stage show where the participants have to convince onlookers with the sincerity of their performance, while behind the scenes they are being directed by hidden powers.

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