President Obama warned the Assad regime not to use chemical weapons against the rebels. To do so, he said, would be to cross a “red line.” So now that it’s been crossed the consequences are . . . unclear.
To be fair, the options are neither numerous not attractive.
For example, the U.S. could establish a “no-fly zone,” which might require shooting Assad’s planes and helicopters out of the sky. That would hurt Assad, Iran’s loyal servant, and that’s a good thing.
But the Obama administration never gave significant help to the non-Islamist opposition whose protests sparked the Syrian conflict two years ago. The result: Well-funded jihadist and Islamist forces have taken the lead on the battlefields. What if hurting Assad means helping them?
Another option: We could establish safe zones where those fleeing Assad’s forces would be protected. But what if, again, groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front go there to rest and recuperate? Do we want to be giving them care packages?
A NATO coalition could go into Syria, topple Assad, and set up a provisional government excluding the extreme elements. And I could get a call from Marty Scorsese this afternoon asking me to star in his next picture.
If Obama does nothing about Assad crossing his chemical weapons “red line,” what reason is there to believe he will do anything about Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s crossing the nuclear threshold? And surely a red line was crossed in Benghazi. There have been no consequences to date.
Many of America’s friends and enemies may be beginning to perceive a pattern. That can’t be good.