Concerning Syria, The Red Line Continues To Shift

While news outlets reported that Secretary of State John Kerry has requested NATO begin considering how it would respond to the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Kerry was quick to clarify that the administration made no such request.

“I didn’t ask for additional planning. I think it might have been Secretary
General or somebody who commented that we may need to do some additional planning. But there’s no specific request,” said Kerry during a press availability. He did add that a “very clear statement about the threat of chemical weapons and the potential for chemical weapons generically to fall into bad hands” was sent to his NATO partners.

Clarity, however, is a descriptive few would use to characterize the administration’s current policy toward Syria, particularly where the use of chemical weapons is concerned.

British, French Contend Assad Has Used Chemical Weapons
Both the British and French governments recently informed the United Nations that they possess corroborating evidence, including soil samples, of chemical-weapon use by Syria. This week Israel followed up with evidence of its own that chemical weapons had been used by government forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.

For most, this constitutes a clear violation of the “red line” the Obama administration claimed would be a “game-changer” in the civil war. As The Washington Post editorial page notes: “Many analysts believe the relatively limited use of chemical weapons until now was intended to test international reaction. If there is no response, Damascus may decide that it is free to use its chemicals on a larger scale.”

The editorial page of The New York Times echoed this contention in its assertion that to end the violence will “require the United States to play an even greater role,” as the “consequences of our continued collective failure are unthinkable, and grow more serious every day.”

The White House, however, continued on Tuesday to maintain that they “have not come to the conclusion that there has been that use.”

US Inaction In Middle East Will Have Far-Reaching Impact
David Rothkopf expounds on the assertion made in the editorials – that US inaction in the Middle East is an action that will have far-reaching consequences.

“Similarly, these analysts see U.S. reluctance to undertake policies that might meaningfully affect outcomes in some of these at-risk countries as a contributing factor both to the coming era of protracted instability and to the likely rise in our appetite for strongmen. Syria is again a signature case. While the United States has in recent weeks ratcheted up its rhetoric and its peripheral involvement in the situation there, America’s inaction is still seen as more important to the situation on the ground as its action,” he writes.

Assad Supporters Hack AP Website
In related news, supporters of Assad claimed credit for hacking the website of the Associated Press and a sending out a felonious tweet asserting President Obama had been harmed in an attack on the White House. Before a clarification was issued by the White House, the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 100 points between 1:08 p.m. and 1:10 pm., which raised additional questions about cyber security safeguards.


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