United States President Barack Obama said on Thursday he does not regret stepping back from his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons by Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
In fact, Obama told the Atlantic magazine in an interview that he was “proud” of the decision.
In 2012, Obama warned Assad that the use of chemical weapons would be crossing a “red line”, but when such weapons were indeed subsequently used, he failed to act on those comments and instead opted to back the diplomatic deal brokered by Russia that saw the Assad regime hand over its declared chemical weapons stockpiles.
Speaking to the Atlantic, Obama described his decision to step back from planned military strikes, which would have changed the course of Syria’s brutal five-year-old civil war.
“I’m very proud of this moment,” he stressed.
“The overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom and the machinery of our national-security apparatus had gone fairly far,” Obama was quoted as saying.
“The perception was that my credibility was at stake, that America’s credibility was at stake. And so for me to press the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically,” said the president.
Critics argue that Obama’s decision did damage to American credibility that will not be healed quickly or easily.