The New York Times has an article discussing the bind that Obama is in due to his red line comment regarding Syrian use of nuclear weapons. According to sources, the comment was made off-the-cuff by Obama in response to a question and never discussed previously. This is what one source had to say:
“The idea was to put a chill into the Assad regime without actually trapping the president into any predetermined action,” said one senior official, who, like others, discussed the internal debate on the condition of anonymity. But “what the president said in August was unscripted,” another official said. Mr. Obama was thinking of a chemical attack that would cause mass fatalities, not relatively small-scale episodes like those now being investigated, except the “nuance got completely dropped.”
What I find interesting about this is just how much it reveals about Obama’s attitude towards foreign policy matters. In my opinion, he has never given them much thought or cared much about them. He came to office with very specific views about social policy and very undeveloped views about economic and foreign policy, many of which were ignorant. In the extant case, he made a remark about Syria because he didn’t understand the nature of the regime and he failed to comprehend the fact that merely spouting off words to a dictatorial regime 6,000 miles away without actually taking concrete steps to make sure the regime knew he was serious would result in his being ignored. Now, having been ignored, he has been backed into a corner by his own words.
The sad part about all of this is that there are still people out there who think that his has been a man who has done a good job of handling foreign policy decisions. It is clear he has been anything but, and this is just the latest example. International issues have always been a sideline or deviation for him from his main goal of social change. The result is that America is less respected as a force in the world than it was when he came into office.