Sunday, May 05, 2013

It's background all the way the down

The White House has given the New York Times the privileged deep background anonymous quote filled pull-back from Barack Obama's now infamous "red line" to Bashar al-Assad on chemical weapons use, which turns out to have been an invitation to the al-Assad clan to test the line both in terms of massacres and atrocities but ultimately in the use of chemical weapons itself. Anyway, there's one obvious problem with the New York Times article. If all the president's men were so uneasy about the whole concept of a red line, why were they still freely discussing it in those terms less than 2 weeks ago -- in a on-the-record background interview? --

We go on to reaffirm that the President has set a clear red line as it relates to the United States that the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups is a red line that is not acceptable to us, nor should it be to the international community. It's precisely because we take this red line so seriously that we believe there is an obligation to fully investigate any and all evidence of chemical weapons use within Syria ... On your red line question, it is absolutely the case that the President's red line is the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups ... So again, it’s precisely because we take the red line seriously that we feel like there needs to be clear, factual, evidentiary basis for our decisions ... But I think nobody should have any mistake about what our red line is. It is when we firmly establish that there has been chemical weapons use within Syria, that is not acceptable to the United States, nor is the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist organizations. And the people in Syria and the Assad regime should know that the President means what he says when he set that red line.

If the concept was seen as a mistake from the start, why did the advisers dig themselves in 2 weeks ago before rushing to brief the New York Times that really they didn't like it at all?

The phrase should have been dumped once the problem was realized. Right now it's on the way to being the equivalent of the State Department's "no opinion on your border dispute with Kuwait" communication to Saddam Hussein.