Chemical attack in Syria? Whatever

Article Highlights

  • Now, according to State Department spox Patrick Ventrell, Assad will merely be “held accountable.” Evolution!

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  • Why doesn’t Obama care? Simple: this is the new normal in foreign policy.

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  • When you don’t want to do anything in the world, you don’t need people to like, trust, or fear you

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Yesterday evening, Josh Rogin over at FP’s The Cable dropped a bombshell of a story: The Assad government, US government investigators have concluded, likely used chemical weapons in Homs on December 23, 2012. Josh has the entire tick-tock of the reports, the investigation, purported videos of the attack (“videos, which are graphic, can be found here, here, here, here, here and here”), reax from State and observations about the Obama administration’s shifting red lines on Assad’s use of WMD. Remember, in August of last year, when the president cared what people thought, it was the mere “moving around” of chemical weapons that he threatened would trigger US action. But after the election, when, apparently, he did not, the red line was “use” of chemical weapons. Now, according to State Department spox Patrick Ventrell, Assad will merely be “held accountable.” Evolution!

Why are so few people talking about this? Why doesn’t Obama care? Simple: this is the new normal in foreign policy. Chemical attacks are just another day in the life of American retreat from the world. 80,000 deaths? Whatever. Al Qaeda on the march? Whatever. Priorities in Afghanistan? Whatever.

What will it mean? Exactly what has been foretold so many times: The Syrian people, like the Kurds who were gassed mercilessly by Saddam Hussein at Halabja while Ronald Reagan was president, will neither forgive nor forget America’s failure to stand with them. Then again, when you don’t want to do anything in the world, you don’t need people to like you, to trust you, or to fear you. America? Whatever.

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About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


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