Sunday, September 8, 2013

Obama's "red line" on Syria does not comport with "R2P" or "responsibility to protect"

The Outlook front page of the Washington Post on Sunday has an important article by Michael Abramowitz from the Holocaust Museum about the idea of “Responsibility to Protect”, or R2P, as it would apply to the current Syrian crisis. The link is here

The writer maintains that “R2P” would have applied long before chemical weapons were apparently used in Syria, and that Obama’s use of the international “red line” does not satisfy the concept.  Had action been taken sooner (although this is all recent, such 2011) the crisis might not be so pressing now.

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) says he has heard things in classified briefings that may change many minds in Congress.  But unless the “R2P” concept is being fully honored, that would suggest that she has heard of some sort of threat to the US homeland, implicit in the presence of WMD’s in Syria at all.  That would make more sense with biological or radiological agents than chemical.

Jeff Toobin of CNN says that Obama does not have the legal authority to act without some sort of third party backing.  John McCain supports action, but says Obama risks impeachment if he puts “boots on the ground” after miscalculation if he acts without Congress.

CNN says that the administration has not shown, at least in unclassified reports, proof that Assad knew these weapons would be used.
The president will speak Tuesday night to the nation, maybe about the risks and sacrifices involved.  He didn’t seem to want to compete with the Washingto Redskins’ Monday Night Football NFL home opener.

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