Obama Pushes Back The Goal Posts On Syrian Chemical Weapons

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Barack Obama’s latest statement with regard to Syrian chemical weapon use indicates that Assad is going to have to gas more people to get a reaction out of the U.S.

Here’s an excerpt from Reuters:

“Horrific as it is when mortars are being fired on civilians and people are being indiscriminately killed, to use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law,” Obama told reporters at the White House.

“That is going to be a game changer. We have to act prudently. We have to make these assessments deliberately. But I think all of us … recognise how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations,” he said.

Obama’s subtle retreat hangs on the word systematic.

As Spencer Ackerman writes at Wired “Obama has now implied it would take a widespread use of the chemicals to prompt the U.S. to involve itself more deeply in the rebel effort to overthrow Assad.”

Obama also maintains that we’re still in the fact-gathering stage.

The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill writes: “The Obama administration is playing for time, passing responsibility to the United Nations – both to establish whether chemical weapons were used and what action, if necessary, should be taken.”

After two costly protracted conflicts, America may not be in such a hurry to get involved in another one — no matter how light the commitment.

Needless to say, some plans have already been partially implemented. There are U.S. troops in Jordan, and Patriot Missiles in Turkey — indicating that a no-fly zone and possibly a Jordanian-led attempt to secure chemical weapons may be options should intervention occur.

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