What is the point of setting red lines if they can be crossed without consequence?
By not implementing immediate military action in Syria, the U.S has greatly compromised its world image and shown hostile countries such as Iran and North Korea that they can now cross the nuclear threshold and develop their own WMD’s without reprise from the West.
While President Barack Obama attempted to portray the image of a seasoned Commander in Chief by setting an arbitrary red line of chemical weapon use by Assad and his dictatorial Syrian regime, he has recently revealed himself to be much more of a Robin Thicke with his confused blurred line policy.
United States intelligence services have already been confirmed to have provided small arms, transportation, and training for the Free Syrian Army and other opposition forces to Assad, but for some reason the president has declined to provide further support in the form of no fly zones and surgical drone strikes.
This makes little sense, seeing as Obama has employed the use of drones throughout the Middle East much more so than his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush. Unlike those strikes which were orchestrated by his own hands (his fabled ‘kill list’), which have killed thousands of innocent civilians to date in Pakistan and Yemen, he could instead repurpose the drones to provide an end to the brutal Syrian Civil War and choose to prevent further death and hence, save lives.
The truth is that the United States should not have even let the Syrian War progress to this point. By not providing substantial arms to the rebels from the outbreak of war, and using a one foot in, one foot out strategy, the U.S and her allies let Putin and Russia force open the door with multi-million dollar arms deals, complete with highly advanced weaponry such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft vehicles to aide Assad.
Instead, the president has chosen to save his image by seeking Congressional approval in this time of dire need instead of using the executive powers of his office immediately. Now regardless, he will save him image by blaming Congress for delayed military action if it should fail and Assad prevails over the rebels while simultaneously appeasesing his base by claiming it was Congress that went to war while he was spit shining his Nobel Peace Prize.
There will of course be doves among the American people who decry any military action beyond sticks and water guns, but these pacifists often misunderstand the geopolitical, economical, and strategical imperatives of military action towards regimes which are hostile towards U.S interests.
The president’s inaction also has wider geopolitical implications for our Middle Eastern allies such as Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, who now have to deal with an emboldened axis of hostile nations of not only Syria, but a less fearful Iran, Hezbollah, Palestine, North Korea and increasingly Russia. For what is the incentive of discontinuing a nuclear program if the U.S does not do what is has threatened to do?
A dangerous precedent has been set by the unpunished use of chemical warfare, which was confirmed by a convoy of United Nations investigators last week. But truth be told, whether these claims are valid or not are irrelevant to the geopolitical goals of the West in the Middle East. It shouldn’t matter whether civilians or U.S interests are assaulted by C4, grenades, or sarin gas. By setting an arbitrary red line, the only course of action was inaction until the stimulus occurred, and in this case the stimulus was 1,429 dead innocent Syrians, 426 of which were children. While the term may have been originally used because it sounded good on parchment paper, geopolitically, red lines are red lines for a reason- and should be enforced with the deadliest of intent.