Syria's horrific civil war rages on, with the (unofficial) death toll rising by the day. The Obama administration's formal position on the conflict was that the "Assad must go," but that the US would not intervene unless the regime in Damascus crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons against its people. Assad just that, a fact on the ground confirmed and acknowledged by our government, pushing America's armed forces to the precipice of a strike. With public opinion calcifying against US military involvement, the president equivocated on whether to seek Congressional authorization for an attack. On that question, 'no' gave way to 'yes,' which then evolved into 'uh oh,' as informal whip counts on the Hill looked bleak. On the brink of an enormous geopolitical humiliation, a cornered Obama had little choice but to latch onto a farcical "deal" offered by Assad and his Russian benefactor, Vladimir Putin, who managed to exploit a gaffe by Secretary of State John Kerry by turning it into official policy. The agreement called for the Assad regime to renounce and turn over the entirety of its chemical weapons stockpile on a strict timeline, supervised by the international community. The logistical chances of this task being carried out on schedule were virtually nil to begin with. The likelihood that Assad's murderous, Iran-backed government would faithfully execute its role as a partner for peace was always zero. And thus, to the surprise of no one, Kerry was forced to admit that the administration's Syria policy was a complete failure earlier this year. The White House wasn't sure it agreed with its State Department's assessment, but the results spoke for themselves:
Syria on Wednesday missed a deadline to hand over all the toxic materials it declared to the world's chemical weapons watchdog, putting the programme several weeks behind schedule and jeopardizing a final June 30 deadline. At the same time, opposition activists say the Syrian air force is attacking the country's biggest city, Aleppo, with barrel bombs, forcing many to flee. Turkey was turning away some of those refugees because camps were now full. Under a deal reached in October between Russia and the United States, which helped avert a U.S.-led missile strike against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Syria agreed to give up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons by February 5. Russia said on Tuesday its ally Damascus would ship more chemicals soon, but Western diplomats said they saw no indications that further shipments were pending.
Assad had crossed the American president's red line, bamboozled the West into accepting a sham "solution," and appeared to have gotten away with it. Indeed, US intelligence sources warned that the Obama/Putin/Assad deal had only strengthened Damascus. And now, new evidence indicates that the Assad regime may have once again employed the very weapons of which they were obligated to have rid themselves under the terms of this useless agreement:
The Obama administration said Monday it has "indications" chemical weapons were used in Syria earlier this month, and is investigating whether the Assad regime might have been responsible. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki discussed the allegations a day after French President Francois Hollande said France also had indications the regime is still using chemical weapons. Bashar Assad's government last year agreed to ship chemical weapons out of his country following a sarin gas attack, as part of a deal to de-escalate tensions with the United States and its allies. President Obama had declared the use of chemical weapons a "red line," but backed off threats of military force following the agreement. The latest attack in question allegedly occurred April 11 in the rebel-held village of Kfar Zeita....Both sides in Syria's civil war blamed each other for the attack in Kfar Zeita....The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that relies on a network of on-the-ground volunteers, said the gas attack happened during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area.
The French believe this latest outrage lands squarely on Assad's doorstep. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, who plied her trade with the Obama campaign, would prefer not to speculate, thank you:
I understand proceeding with caution. Fog of war, etc. But let's say it's definitively proven that the regime once again crossed the chemical weapons red line -- what then? It's bad enough that they're shirking their disarmament responsibilities; vowing to meet those conditions was ostensibly the only thing that spared them a
punishing "unbelievably small" US reprisal. So actually unleashing the banned WMDs again would be truly brazen. Is the Obama administration prepared to do anything? Would any potential action be put before Congress? Are there repercussions for defying unambiguous threats from the President of the United States? And would a post-Assad Syria be measurably preferable to the horrible status quo? Obama has no political appetite for any of this, of course, but he may recognize that taking some action (even if it's unpopular) may not be materially worse than telegraphic more rudderless non-leadership to the American people and the world. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, you'll be pleased to know that the United States has unfrozen more than $1 billion in additional cash assets for Iran, in accordance with the interim deal the Obama administration struck with the anti-American fanatics in Tehran. Since that agreement was forged and hailed as a breakthrough by the "smart power" crowd, the Iranian regime has (a) defiantly insisted that they didn't agree to dismantle any element of their nuclear program, (b) been accused of attempting to obtain banned nuclear components, and (c) nominated this man as its ambassador to the United Nations. Terrific. I'll leave you with this: