Iraq looms large as wary Obama warns Syria over chemical weapons
Iraq looms large as wary Obama warns Syria over chemical
By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 1 hr 33 mins ago
“A whole bunch,” meet “systematic.” President Barack Obama's cautious stance
on the conflict in Syria shone clearly Friday as he warned President Bashar Assad
that “the systematic use” of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels would
trigger a forceful American response.
Back in August, Obama bluntly warned Assad’s regime that while he had not “at
this point” ordered an American military response to Syria's civil war, “a red line
for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or
When it comes to chemical weapons, what is "a whole bunch"? What does
"systematic" mean? The White House has carefully refused to define either term
precisely, keeping the president's options open. Republicans have called for a far
more forceful U.S. role in Syria, notably by arming the rebels and establishing
"safe zones" to protect the opposition or Syrians fleeing the fighting.
In 2008, Obama used his opposition to the Iraq war—and Hillary Clinton’s initial support for it—as a potent weapon to
capture the Democratic presidential nomination. The flawed case for toppling Saddam Hussein looms large now as the
president wrestles with the U.S. response to signs that Assad’s iron-fisted regime used chemical weapons in Syria’s two-year
civil war. The conflict has claimed the lives of an estimated 70,000 people.
“I think all of us, not just in the United States but around the world, recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the
systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations,” Obama said as he met Friday in the Oval Office
with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
The president’s comments came a day after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the White House revealed that U.S.
intelligence believed Assad had used chemical weapons, specifically the deadly nerve agent sarin, against opposition forces in
the country's on