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Obama’s Syria Policy Looks a Lot Like Bush’s Iraq Policy

President Obama announced late last week that the US intelligence community had just determined that the Syrian government had used poison gas on a small scale, killing some 100 people in a civil conflict that has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. Because of this use of gas, the president claimed, Syria had crossed his “red line” and the US must begin to arm the rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.

Setting aside the question of why 100 killed by gas is somehow more important than 99,900 killed by other means, the fact is his above explanation is full of holes. The Washington Post reported last week that the decision to overtly arm the Syrian rebels was made “weeks ago” – in other words, it was made at a time when the intelligence community did not believe “with high confidence” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.

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The Rise and the Fall of the Humanitarian Interventionists

Back in the Spring and Summer of 2011, the humanitarian interventionists inside the Obama Administration were riding high.  President Obama put American military force behind the overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya, on the grounds of preventing a humanitarian disaster in Benghazi.  When Congress balked at the idea that he had brought the nation to war without even seeking tacit Congressional approval, President Obama issued an executive order creating an Atrocities Prevention Board inside the White House.  Under the guise of preventing potential future atrocities, the President asserted the authority to wage preventive war.  Several months later, he used a visit to the Holocaust Museum to announce the appointment of Samantha Power, a former protege of hedge-fund billionaire George Soros who never met a regime that she did not wish to change on "humanitarian" grounds as the head of the APB.
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