Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

August 27, 2013

The Pandora's Box in Syria

(Continued)

How harrowing could this get?

The Washington Examiner wrote: Syrian President Bashar Assad’s anti-U.S. strategy during the 2003-11 Iraq War has come back to bite him. Mr. Assad allowed al Qaeda operatives to set up a “rat line” through his country and into northeastern Iraq. Hundreds of young terrorists, many recruited from North Africa, took airline flights into Damascus and joined networks ready to sneak them across the border. Mr. Assad’s objective: to keep the U.S. occupation off balance by helping al Qaeda kill Americans. But Mr. Assad’s move also enabled al Qaeda to set up a logistics foothold in Syria that now is being used against him.

There is little doubt that if al Qaeda obtained this type of weaponry, it would raise the terrorism stakes, here, in Europe and Russia.

In 2005, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama traveled to Russia with Lugar, forging an alliance that prompted the two to write legislation to expand Nunn-Lugar to cover conventional weapons. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama cited his relationship with Lugar at his campaign kickoff in Springfield, Ill., and his Democratic National Convention acceptance speech.

President Obama now finds himself accountable for what he identified as a “red line” exactly a year prior to this attack, should Syria gas its own 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,” Obama said on Aug. 20, 2012. “We have put together a range of contingency plans.”

The White House said it was trying to confirm the reports independently from this week’s attack.

Lugar said on MSNBC Thursday, “The President is going to have to deal with Congress on these issues. The ‘red line’ . . . means going to war. Essentially, the President said there would be enormous consequences. He needs to start outlining what would be involved. This is very dangerous because we may be aiding people who will use the arms against us and our allies.”

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