According the the official White House website, in the briefing he said, “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.”
Now, I say unscripted because that’s just exactly what it was. The Washington Post said that President’s use of those words were only intended to be, “very loose and informal, focused mainly on the question of movement of chemical weapons.” Unfortunately for the President, you can’t unring a bell. Ever since he uttered the words ‘red’ and ‘line’ together, they have been coming back to bite him in the back--is the US going to do something about the weapons? Should Syria be scared?
For a while Obama was considering a military strike against Syria that, as reported by the Washington Post, “would be of limited scope and duration, designed to serve as punishment for it’s use of chemical weapons and as a deterrent.” To everyone’s surprise, however, Obama sought Congressional approval for a military strike. The problem was, though, was that Obama needed Republican votes to win approval but it’s no secret to everyone that the Republicans doesn’t trust his leadership. Thus, ‘Obama’s Red Line’ was changed to “the world’s red line” as introduced by John Kerry during the September 2013 congressional debate.
In order to avert a US attack, Russia proposed that Syria place its chemical weapons under international control; syria welcomed this proposition. The United States and Russia deliberated for a long time as to what should be done and finally (miraculously) reached a deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons with the “full cooperation” of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. According to NPR, the American Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments…And, as I said at the outset of these negotiations, there can be no games, no room for avoidance, or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime”. All in all, that sounds very convincing and optimistic— keyword, optimistic. Let’s not kid ourselves. Cataloguing, securing, and destroying President Assad’s cache of poison gas, which measures to around 1,000 tons, according to officials in Washington D.C. and Moscow, by 2014 is an incredibly ambitious task (New York Times). Combined with the fact that Syria is still in the middle of a vicious civil war, this task is even more difficult. But let’s say Syria wasn’t busy fighting a war that has killed over 100,000 people and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. It is still an incredibly bold task to attempt to destroy all their weapons in just under a year. The US and Russia have both shown just how difficult it is to catalog and dispose of chemical weapons. The two countries started the process of destroying…