President Barack Obama's step-back Wednesday from his comments about a red line in Syria indicates he's abdicating his leadership role in the conflict, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial
Obama said in August 2012
that if Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, he would be crossing a "red line" that would "change my equation."
But on Wednesday, Obama put the onus on the rest of the world and then on Congress.
"I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line," he said. "The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.
"Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty," he said. "Congress set a red line when it indicated in a piece of legislation titled the 'Syria Accountability Act' that some of the horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for."
Obama also doesn't see his credibility at stake over Syria. "My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line. And America and Congress' credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important."
Journal editors weren't impressed. "If a president wants to lose a vote in Congress, this is what he would say," they write.
"Minimize his personal leadership responsibility and tell the members of Congress that they are responsible for whatever happens if they fail to pass his resolution, as well as for the results of any military action that Mr. Obama would conduct."
The close 10-7 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday approving the use of force by Obama shows Congress isn't eagerly following his lead, the editorial says.
"Mr. Obama still hasn't figured out after five years in office that America is the only enforcer of world order, and thus that there is no substitute for the president of the United States," the editorial states.
"Mr. Obama can't default to 'the international community,' whatever that is, much less to Congress. He has to lead. If he loses on Syria, it will be because he hasn't."
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