“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” John Maynard Keynes
Go figure.....you knew he was going to come back and try to deny his claim to fame....since it didn't work out.
But you can bet your ass if all had worked. He would be Standing on his Redline with nothing but a **** eating grin.
I think this is irrelevant. I think Obama and Putin are playing this game so as to make it appear that the deals on G20 were the best possible ones under these circumstances that they themselves are creating right now.
In today’s remarks at the Joint Press Conference with Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt, President Obama stated, in part:
I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.”
Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Reinfeldt of Sweden in Joint Press Conference | The White House
Although the argument may well be rooted in commitments made by parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), of which Syria is not a party, the position that the world set the “red line” for intervention (as opposed to accepted the principle of non-use of chemical weapons) appears to be of fairly recent vintage.
In his initial statement on the issue, President Obama stated on August 20, 2012:
I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.
Remarks by the President to the White House Press Corps | The White House
Notice the reference to a “red line for us” not the international or world community.
However, by June 2013, the Obama Administration was referring to a “red line” for the United States, as well as an “international norm” regarding the non-use of chemical weapons. On June 13, 2013, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes, stated, “The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups – is a red line for the United States, as there has long been an established norm within the international community against the use of chemical weapons.”
Statement by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes on Syrian Chemical Weapons Use | The White House
An international norm is not the same thing as a “red line” that would trigger a military response. Indeed, a closer look at the CWC finds no language concerning an automatic military response.
Moreover, when it comes to legal technicalities, the CWC is binding on members to that convention (Article I). There is no language that concerns the actions of non-members. Furthermore, the remedies are set forth in Article XII to the CWC, and they do not confer the ability of individual states or groups of states to launch military responses against violators. Needless to say, if an enemy state used chemical weapons and/or posed an imminent credible threat to use such weapons against another state, then that state enjoys the inherent right of self-defense that supersedes that Convention. Syria posed no such threat to the U.S. or strategic U.S. allies.
When it comes to civil conflict, Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions is the most relevant document as it relates to civilian protections. As is the case with the CWC, Syria is not a party to that treaty. That document sets forth protections for civilians (Article 13). However, it also includes direct language barring intervention by outside parties (Article 3). In part, Article 3 declares:
Nothing in this Protocol shall be invoked as a justification for intervening, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the armed conflict or in the internal or external affairs of the High Contracting Party in the territory of which that conflict occurs.
In short, invoking international law to justify the use of military force against Syria for its use of chemical weapons is not a strong argument. It also goes beyond the remedies set forth in the CWC.
Where does that leave one? It brings things back to states’ interests. If a state’s critical or vital interests or its strategic allies are attacked or under credible and imminent threat of attack, they are entitled to military responses. There is also precedent for military responses when large numbers of civilians are under attack or in imminent danger (NATO’s role in the Serbia-Kosovo conflict). In the case of Syria, no critical U.S. interests or strategic allies have been attacked or under credible, imminent threat of attack. At the same time, the number of civilians who have been attacked or are under threat of chemical weapons attack do not begin to rise to the magnitude of those who were impacted in the Serbia-Kosovo War. In short, the argument that the U.S. is under some kind of obligation to enforce international law and, therefore needs to respond militarily against Syria, is a weak one.
Clearly, the CWC lacks adequate enforcement mechanisms. It also lacks language to deal with states that are not parties to the CWC. This isn’t too surprising. International law has serious limitations when it comes to issues concerning international peace and security.
Hence, I personally fall back to nation’s interests when it comes to deciding on courses of action. While I clearly believe nations should respect one another’s sovereignty, that’s not always possible. The test should concern whether a state’s critical interests and/or its strategic allies have been attacked or are under credible and imminent threat. If not, then military intervention should be avoided except in special circumstances. If so, then military action is wholly legitimate. Syria does not rise to that level.
This is not a perfect approach and there may be no perfect approaches. However, it is a reasonable one. It recognizes the inherent right of self-defense, including the ability to make preemptive military strikes under strict conditions. It also allows for protection against large-scale humanitarian disasters created by warring parties. At the same time, it limits the risk of regional or global instability—and the casualties that could result—by refraining from the idea of license for intervention in the affairs of other states unless circumstances reach a sufficient magnitude to override the argument of sovereignty.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman