President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the red line he outlined last year regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons came from international treaties and past congressional action, and now it is time for the international community to make good on its opposition to the banned armaments.
"I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line," Obama told reporters on the first day of a four-day trip to Sweden and Russia to attend a G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.
In particular, Obama said the global red line came when governments representing 98% of the world's population "passed a treaty forbidding (chemical weapons) use, even when countries are engaged in war."
The president spoke as a Senate committee prepared to consider a resolution authorizing a limited military strike on Syria in response to what the administration calls a major chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed hundreds of people in suburban Damascus.
A year ago, Obama warned Syria that his position on the civil war there would change if President Bashar al-Assad's regime used its stockpiles of chemical weapons.
"A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized," Obama said then. "That would change my calculus. That would change my equation."
Conservative critics have said Obama painted himself into a corner with that statement and now must respond to save face, even if this is not an imminent national security matter for the United States.
The nerve of this guy. When he was in the middle of a presidential campaign, he wanted to talk tough. There was no mention of treaties or the world, it was all about Barack Obama's "calculus," Barack Obama's "equation." Now, when he actually has to follow through on his threat, it's someone else's fault.
More and more, Obama's speech from 2008 seems prescient. It's all "just words" to this guy.
The most chilling moment to me comes at the beginning when he says "we need to make politics cool again." Oh, dear, that's the last thing we need.