“CENTCOM had kept a keen eye on Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons, and we were picking up indications that he was preparing to use them against his own people,” Mattis writes. To stop this from happening, in August 2012, he says, “President Obama issued a firm warning. ‘That’s a red line for us,’ he said. ‘There would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.’”
“A short time later, Assad did employ chemical weapons, killing hundreds of civilians,” Mattis continues. “At CENTCOM, I assumed we would be the ones to provide the President’s ‘enormous consequence.’ We prepared options to hold Assad harshly accountable, with NATO and Arab allies in support, from single strikes to more extensive operations, depending on the President’s judgment.”
But Obama declined to do anything. “This was a shot not heard around the world,” Mattis writes. And the effects were felt far beyond Syria and even the Middle East.
“Old friends in NATO and in the Pacific registered dismay and incredulity that America’s reputation had been seriously weakened as a credible security partner,” Mattis writes. “Within thirty-six hours, I received a phone call from a friendly Pacific-nation diplomat. ‘Well, Jim,’ he said, ‘I guess we’re on our own with China.’”
Mattis concludes, “Over the next several years, Syria totally disintegrated into hell on earth. The consequences included an accelerated refugee flow that changed the political culture of Europe, punctuated by repeated terrorist attacks. And America today lives with the consequences of emboldened adversaries and shaken allies.” https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/…/emboldened…