Shortly after the US Secretary of Defense weakly claimed that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, the neocons went directly onto warpath mode. Never mind that no evidence was presented at all to substantiate the claims and the US intelligence community appears to have been blindsided by Secretary Hagel, who was himself blindsided by claims from an Israeli general immediately after he departed the country. Truth has never impeded the neo-cons at all, and they have been pining for war with Syria from the beginning: now there was something tangible that they could sink their teeth into. A gift from Hagel. They saw red – a “red line” to be exact.
The Foreign Policy Initiative quickly came out with a statement:
"It is increasingly clear that Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons in his war against the Syrian people – crossing what President Obama has previously described as a 'red line' for the United States...
“Other nations, such as Iran and North Korea, will be watching the American reaction closely. If the US government itself declares that a red line has been crossed in the use of such weapons but then takes no action, this may give Iran, in particular, confidence that it can move forward in developing a nuclear weapon without fear of any action by the United States.”
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin fears what inaction does to US credibility:
"Does anyone really think the world would be more peaceful and more free if China, Russia and the U.N. were running the show with the U.S. on the sidelines, leaving friends and allies to fend for themselves? (Syria is a good example of that.)"
Actually, yes, many people do believe the world would be much more peaceful if the U.S. weren’t "running the show." The only show that the U.S. should be running is in displaying to the world how peace and commerce work, and how they are much better alternatives to conquest and war.
For the moment, Obama has not taken overt action on his foolish “red line” warning. But pressure is mounting and he may well continue to relent to save his own face.
That would be a mistake. As Pat Buchanan correctly points out:
"Better to have egg on Obama's face than for America to be dragged into another unnecessary war."