August 18, 2016

New Report Highlights Clinton’s Weak Response To Syrian Chemical Weapons

As the Syrian civil war rages in the Middle East the death toll continues to climb, with one estimate putting the total as high as 470,000 and estimating that 11.5 percent of the Syrian population has been killed or injured since the civil war began in March 2011. A new U.N. report due out next week will likely place blame for several chemical weapons attacks in Syria on the doorstep of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, highlighting Secretary Clinton’s weakness in the face of Assad’s chemical weapons use and renewing attention on a dark mark on Secretary Clinton’s failed foreign policy record.

The report, compiled by the U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism, follows a year-long investigation into several chemical weapons attacks in Syria with the “main purpose” of naming the “suspected perpetrators” of the attacks. Coming “… in the wake of a new spate of such alleged attacks in Syria,” it flies in the face of Secretary Clinton’s March 2011 comments that Assad was a “different leader” than his autocratic father and that some felt Assad was a “reformer”:

The U.N. report’s findings may come as a surprise to Secretary Clinton who supported the Obama administration’s dithering in 2013 in the face of an Assad regime chemical weapons attack that killed around 1,400. After reiterating President Obama’s establishment of a “red line” for chemical weapons use in Syria, Secretary Clinton first supported strikes against the Assad regime, then supported President Obama’s decision to go to Congress first.

Ultimately, Russia helped the Obama administration secure a deal with Assad regime where Assad would turn over his chemical weapons stockpiles and dismantle his chemical weapons infrastructure, thereby avoiding U.S. missile strikes. In her book, Hard Choices, Secretary Clinton called the deal a “success.”

However, the deal was no success. There have since been dozens of chemical weapons attacks. Further, in a September 2014 hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that the Assad regime’s continued use of chlorine was a violation of the chemical weapons convention. President Obama’s Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the failure to uphold the red line “dealt a severe blow to the credibility of both Obama and the United States.”

Now, three years later, the Syrian people are suffering because of Secretary Clinton’s unwillingness to act. She failed to stand by her own red line or hold Assad accountable for striking his own people with chemical weapons. Her willingness to accept a weak deal set the stage for years of chemical weapons use against the Syrian people, showing her failed decision making and underscoring her disastrous foreign policy record.