In a move designed to turn up the heat on Assad, President Obama signaled he was ready to intervene in the conflict if Syrian forces use chemical or biological weapons against their own people. The Wall Street Journal has the story:
Mr. Obama, speaking at a news conference at the White House on Monday, said the U.S. was closely monitoring the situation and, although he hasn’t yet ordered military action, has “put together a range of contingency plans.”
In a blunt warning to the Syrian government, Mr. Obama promised “enormous consequences” if the U.S. detects any preparations by Mr. Assad to use chemical weapons, which are internationally banned. The use of such weapons, he said, isn’t only a worry in Syria but also to the U.S. and its close allies in the region, including Israel.
“A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moved around or being utilized,” Mr. Obama said. “That would change my calculations significantly.”
U.S. presidents don’t threaten war every day, so this news is worth noting.
That “responsibility to protect” we heard so much about back in the heady days of the Libya intervention is clearly inoperative in Syria. But U.S. concerns about WMD in the Middle East remain real. The problem of WMD will grow more acute as fighting spreads and the country falls into chaos. The Obama administration could find itself sending troops into Syria to keep WMD out of the hands of Hezbollah or other terror groups.
This isn’t over yet. Unfortunately.