President Obama's coldly articulated redline regarding the use of chemical weapons might just translate into a greenlight for more frenzied killing sprees by Assad and his militias.
In his recent White House press briefing, President Obama said that he had not "ordered military engagement" in Syria, but noted that he might change his "calculus" should "we see a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around, or being utilized," by the Assad regime, as this development, for him, as he pointed out, would constitute a "redline."
By framing things this way at a time when Assad's MIGs, helicopter gunships, missiles and heavy artillery are pounding residential neighborhoods and civilian installations, including schools and hospitals, in villages, towns and cities all across Syria claiming hundreds of lives every day, President Obama's redline will most likely be taken by Assad as greenlight for sticking to his bloody tactics to the bitter end. After all, he was just told by the most powerful man in the world that he has no plans to stop him.
President Obama, a Nobel Prize laureate, also showed more concern for the regional ramification of using biological weapons than for the humanitarian cost involved. He said: "It doesn't just include Syria. It would concern allies in the region, including Israel, and it would concern us."
Why President Obama would be so callous about the tragedy unfolding in Syria is beyond me. Why slaughter would be deemed tolerable if it happened one way and not another remains an enigma. Be that as it may, President Obama has just told millions of Syrians that their suffering simply does not concern him, that his cold calculus does not leave much room for compassion.
Coming from the most powerful man in the world, the man who just last year invoked the Responsibility to Protect to stop carnage in Libya, this is an unfathomable and cynical abdication of moral responsibility. The Syrian people who dared yearn to be free will pay dearly for it. But down the road, so will America, and so will the rest of the world.
For devoid of her moral compass, America will be no different than Russia and China - just another cynical superpower in it for herself, and nothing more. American exceptionalism will come to an end. Many in America and across the world would rejoice, but the world will be left leaderless, and without any reliable mechanism for collective decision-making and consensus building. This will not be a better world, as so many envision, but a cold dark one, filled with conflicts, suffering and tumult.
Syria will be forgotten then, but her torn pieces will continue to bleed. By the time, the world grasped that Syria is nothing less than its beating heart, it will be too late.
Meanwhile, thank you Mr. President, and Happy Eid to you too.