President Obama seems to be trying to wriggle out of his ‘red line’ comment, perhaps realizing that if the Syria attack goes badly awry, then people will use that statement to suggest that it was he who was solely responsible for getting the US into the mess even if Congress authorized him to act, since it was that statement that people are repeatedly using to suggest that US ‘credibility’ is on the line.
Barack Obama, speaking during a stopover in Sweden before the summit, denied his political credibility was at stake but admitted relations with Russia had hit a wall. He insisted he had not set the red lines requiring a military response if the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons.
“The world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons was abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war,” he said. “That was not something I just kind of made up, I did not pluck it out of thin air.”
He added: “My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.
“Keep in mind, I’m somebody who opposed the war in Iraq, and I’m not interested in repeating mistakes about basing decisions on faulty intelligence,” the US president said at a news conference in Stockholm.
Perhaps it was because he was in Stockholm, the place where he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 in what has to be considered a travesty, that made him realize that he had to try and salvage his tattered image. But his ridiculous efforts at shifting blame for the coming conflict onto the entire world are bound to draw ridicule.
Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin seems to be hardening his position that Russia will respond to this violation of international law, though how was kept unspecified.
Putin, in an interview published on Wednesday, said it was too early to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria but added: “We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise. We have our plans.”
He then said Russia might restart Syria’s suspended S-300 air defence missile contract. Describing the weapon as “very efficient”, he said: “If we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world.”
The statement could also be a veiled threat to revive a contract for the delivery of the S-300s to Iran, which Russia cancelled a few years ago under strong US and Israeli pressure.
This is crazy. It is Cold War brinkmanship all over again.