The New York Post
Former President Barack Obama said his controversial decision to not bomb Syria after Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his own people “required the most political courage,” a new report said Monday.
Obama had warned the Syrian dictator that he would cross a “red line” if he used chemical weapons in the country’s bloody civil war — implying that the US would retaliate militarily.
But Obama did nothing, sparking outrage from critics who said the decision to stand down weakened America’s standing on the world stage and left Syrians at the mercy of a brutal madman.
Obama was interviewed by Jack Schlossberg, President Kennedy’s grandson, last week before receiving a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.
Schlossberg released a transcript of Obama’s head-scratching statement on the website Medium, as first reported by Politico.
He said deploying US troops on the battlefield was “the hardest issue that I dealt with,” because they “would be in a really dangerous situation, that was tough.”
“But I actually think that the issue that required the most political courage was the decision not to bomb Syria after the chemical weapons use had been publicized and rather to negotiate them removing chemical weapons from Syria,” Obama said.
Obama admitted that his call “was an imperfect solution” even though “99 percent of huge chemical weapons stockpiled were removed without us having to fire a shot.”
But, he added, the US knew the Assad government still had chemical weapons in its arsenal — which they used again this spring, prompting President Trump to bomb a Syrian military airfield.
“The reason it was hard was because, as president, what you discover is that you generally get praised for taking military action, and you’re often criticized for not doing so,” Obama said.
Trump was praised for acting when Obama had not.
“It wasn’t a slam dunk,” Obama said about his decision.
“But I thought it made sense for a variety of reasons for us to see if [the US] could actually try to eliminate the prospect of large-scale chemical weapons than the political expedience of a one-time shot,” he said.