By Micah HalpernI've Been Thinking:
The US has officially concluded that the Assad regime has used gas against the rebels. It is clear that the red line that President Obama drew has been crossed.
So what can the United States do? There are no good options.
The administration has finally concluded that the rebels are not good guys and that there are many groups of rebels. The US now, should I say finally, realizes that a significant part of the rebels are al Qaeda.
Arming the rebels would be arming enemies of the United States. And the rebels are fighting each other. So even if the US gives weapons to rebels who are not anti-US, those same weapons could easily be given to, or taken by, rival rebel groups.
Drawing the red line was a political mistake. It was originally simple rhetoric. But then the president and his administration repeated the phrase so often that, in the end, the result will be that the United States loses face in the Middle East.
The United States now sees the downside of keeping Assad in power. If Assad stays in power, US interests and strength in the region could be severely damaged. The US will lose clout and Mid East leaders will be more likely to enjoy the courtship of Russia and Iran. Ironically, Russian and Iranian leaders are men of their word, not mere rhetorical wordsmiths.
Worse case scenario US weapons fall into the hands and arsenals of al Qaeda and Bashar Assad emerges victorious. If that is the way things play out, be assured that it will negatively impact the United States for the very long term.
All because of the need to publicly articulate a red line.
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