from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Of Presidents and Bluffing

May 06, 2013

Blog Post

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United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Syria

The Syria crisis has led to a great deal of criticism of administration policy, most of it in my view quite justified on both humanitarian and strategic grounds. I discuss this in a short article in the Weekly Standard, here.

Consider the humanitarian issue, now with an estimated 75,000 dead and 4 million displaced. According to a New York Times story, at a meeting last summer an Obama administration official asked “If he drops sarin on his own people, what’s that got to do with us?”

As I note in the Weekly Standard:

How soon they forget. According to the Times that line was uttered last August, not quite four months after Mr. Obama established his "Atrocities Prevention Board." In a speech on April 23, 2012 he said this at the Holocaust Museum:

And finally, "never again" is a challenge to nations.  It’s a bitter truth -- too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale.  And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

Four months to go from there to "If he drops sarin on his own people, what’s that got to do with us?”

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